Sidney Rice's accomplishments in the passing game were not amusing to Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
On the opening play of the Vikings' 29-22 win over the Raiders, running back Chester Taylor was split out to the right, came in motion back to toward quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, took the handoff and continued his momentum to the left. Taylor then pitched to wide receiver Sidney Rice on a reverse and Rice rolled to the right and completed a pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe at midfield.
"It felt good. We talked about it throughout the week and also last night, so it feels real good to finally get a spark," Rice said about starting the game out with a reverse wide receiver pass to a tight end. "You always want to have the crowd in the game, especially when you are playing at home. It's a big advantage."
Shiancoe gathered the pass at midfield and tried to beat the pursuit to the end zone but was hauled down at the 5-yard line.
It wasn't the completion that bothered the talkative defensive tackle from the Raiders, but Sapp felt like the trick play was a direct reflection of Vikings seeing the Raiders as being undisciplined on defense.
"People run plays like that because you are undisciplined," Sapp said. "A double reverse pass – that is because you are undisciplined. That is why people run plays like that. People run trick plays because you are undisciplined. You are not going to be where you are supposed to be. You are not going to read your keys."
Amazingly, the Vikings ran a similar play later in the game, when Rice took an end around going the opposite direction and found Troy Williamson for a 15-yard gain. However, on that play, Raiders contained Rice from getting outside. Instead, Rice found a quick pocket to set up in and unloaded the football before he was unloaded on.
It was something Rice was used to, as he played quarterback in high school through the 10th grade before switching to wide receiver.
"Oh it was fun, as long you are completing passes," he said of getting back to throwing passes instead of catching them. "I am not with getting hit and sacked and all that stuff. As long as I am completing passes, it feels good."
If Rice had been able to lead a wide open Shiancoe a little more, they might have produced a touchdown, but Shiancoe appreciated how far Rice was able to get it.
"I knew he had a strong arm. We always threw before walkthroughs and practice and stuff and I bet a couple guys that he can throw it 70 yards. He can get it like 65-70 yards," Shiancoe said.
Rice said everything went as planned and practiced on the play, but this time he was able to find Shiancoe even quicker than in practice.
"The line, the running back and Sidney and everybody really sold the run, so that really pushed the safeties up and allowed me to get past them," Shiancoe said. "I got on my horse, man, and Sidney threw a good ball."
It was no accident that it was Rice throwing two passes in the same game.
"Usually when you have a halfback or you want a halfback pass or (a play where) any wide receivers can throw, everybody puts their hands up and says, ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh, me, me, me, me, me,' and then some of them throw it just God-awful," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He's not one of those guys. He has a big hand, and he can yoke the football. We've always known that he could do that. The second one that he had, he unfortunately had a zero blitz coming against him, so he did some good things just to get it off, and obviously the guy (Williamson) did a great job of catching the football. But he can throw the football a long way. We fooled around with those things since training camp, and we practice them every week."
This week, it was Rice's turn to dial up a receiver pass twice in the same game … much to the chagrin of Sapp.
Rice's Passes Irk Sapp
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