The Vikings hardly could have scored any quicker on Sunday, when a trick play and a running play provided a touchdown two plays into their 29-22 win over the Oakland Raiders.
The opening play from scrimmage was a gutsy call. Not only was it a reverse to wide receiver Sidney Rice, but the Vikings added on top of that a pass that Rice lofted about 30 yards in the air to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who stood wide open waiting for the ball to come down to him at midfield and raced toward the end zone before being caught from behind at the 5-yard line.
The way the play worked was a thing of beauty for a struggling offense, but head coach Brad Childress didn't exactly have a big backing when contemplating using that play.
"I think I sat in the meetings on Thursday or Friday (and) I didn't get really a unanimous vote of confidence because of what I said about it being either a big hit or a big dejection. I actually told the team on Saturday night that this is the first play we are going to run," Childress said. "I put it up there, and I said now listen, ‘Here is the deal, I have been through it too many times.' When you have success early a lot of times you have a big hit, a big play, and what happens is you have the big hit and so you say, ‘Oh, this is going to be easy.' So we are not running it if that is what we think is going to happen because when we hit the thing and we are running down there at the other end getting ready to score, or scoring, these are never easy. Most games aren't decided on the first play of the game, most of them.
"But I can take you back I don't know how many times over the course of my career (when) we have had a big hit (and) it's kind of (exhale) and you lose something, you lose an edge. So I had to elicit a promise from the offensive room that we are going to use this, we are going to hit it, but we are still going to have a good 59 minutes, 30 seconds of football left. So they were all in from that standpoint."
The offensive players may have been all in after Childress announcement and discussion with them on Saturday evening, but the defensive players weren't convinced it was going to work, according to cornerback Antoine Winfield.
The Vikings have been practicing a series of trick plays since training camp, and last week they were working specifically on a few pass plays that Rice, a quarterback until the 10th grade, could use to keep the Raiders off-balance. But it seems that play didn't work as well in practice against the Vikings defense as it did Sunday when it counted.
"That was good. I don't think anyone expected that," Winfield said. "I seen them run it in practice, but (Rice) threw it just like that, where Shiancoe had to stop and wait for the ball. We were like, That's not going to work, but he made it happen.
"On the sideline in practice, the (defensive backs) were like, That's not going to work."
But it did it hit for a 79-yard gain that likely would have been a touchdown had Shiancoe not had to wait for the ball. Still, according to Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp, the Vikings were able to pull off trick plays because Oakland was too undisciplined on defense.
Childress recalled what went into his decision to call the play.
"Well, you look to see if you feel like you can get somebody out of position with a run fake, making people move side to side with the run, add a reverse fake. You have to have in our case somebody that can throw the football up the field and not just say you can throw the football up the field, which Sid has always been able to do," Childress said. "Typically you are trying to slow people down, whether it be with a reverse, an end-around. … You are trying to take advantage of somebody's aggressiveness by doing something off of it, and slowing them down so they may not be pursuing the run quite as hard."
The Vikings did have 228 yards rushing on Sunday, so it's possible that the opening play and another end-around pass from Rice in the third quarter was enough to keep the Raiders' defensive aggressiveness in check. In fact, the Vikings accumulated 26 of their rushing yards on another end around to Troy Williamson.
"They are fun plays to practice and they are obviously fun plays to hit and it just maybe takes the defensive coordinator and doesn't let him quite go home as early at night because he has got to worry about some gizmo that you have," Childress said.
But the tricks plays could have an opposite effect as well if Rice had been dropped for a loss behind the line of scrimmage or thrown an interception – he told Viking Update he never considered pulling the ball down and running with it. And Childress admitted the coaching staff may have to bend their rules of blocking in order to allow a play like that to succeed.
"They are usually feast or famine. They look real good when they work, and those reverses that lose 12 (yards), everybody wants to know what did you do that for," Childress said.
On Sunday, the trick plays – the opening play and Williamson's reverse – provided two of the Vikings' eight explosive plays.
Trick Play Had Its Vikings Doubters
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