Jackson Gets Chance to Find Consistency

The Vikings have been on a bumpy slide since November 2006, but QB Tarvaris Jackson will get a chance to see if he can make this team more consistent. The challenge appears to be in winning back-to-back games, starting with a very solid Giants club.

Faced with the adversity of an embarrassing 34-0 loss at Green Bay in Week 10, the Vikings rebounded with a victory over Oakland last Sunday that put them within two games of .500 heading into this weekend's meeting against the host New York Giants.

The question now becomes: Can Minnesota string together a consistent stretch of football under coach Brad Childress? So far that has failed to happen in Childress' two seasons.

The Vikings (4-6) have not won back-to-back games this year, and the last time Minnesota had a two-game winning streak was in October 2006, when it beat Detroit and Seattle.

That gave the Vikings a 4-2 record under Childress. Since that time, they have gone 6-14, raising plenty of doubt regarding Childress' job security. Sunday's victory over Oakland could be a springboard to Childress getting himself off the hot seat.

Of course, if Childress is thinking about his team starting any type of run as we near December, he certainly isn't saying.

"You get in trouble when you start to look over the horizon because then you get into if we can do that and if we can do that," Childress said. "The bottom line is you need to take care of this week, and if you do that and not get ahead of yourself, then you have got a group of guys that are focused on one thing and one thing only."

The last time the Vikings visited Giants Stadium, it proved to be part of a winning streak that nearly earned them a playoff berth.

That came in 2005 when the Vikings edged the Giants 24-21 under then coach Mike Tice. It was the second victory of a six-game winning streak that came on the heels of a dismal 2-5 start. Minnesota closed the season on a 7-2 run.

Childress is hoping that once again the Vikings can stay on a roll in a game against the Giants.

In order for that to happen, Minnesota likely will need more production from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson than it got against Oakland.

Jackson, making his sixth start of the season, completed 17 of 22 passes for 171 yards with no touchdowns in a 29-22 victory. He also threw an interception on a play from the Raiders 3-yard line when he attempted to guide a pass toward receiver Sidney Rice instead of firing the ball at his primary target.

The Vikings' goal is to have Jackson start the final seven games of the season in order to make a judgment on whether he is their quarterback of the future. The honest assessment at this point appears to be that the franchise will need to look elsewhere for its signal-caller in 2008.

Nonetheless, Jackson stands to get every chance to show what he can do. The key will be keeping Jackson healthy. He has started six games this season, missing time because of a strained groin, a broken finger and a concussion.

Jackson has a 3-2 record in his starts. The Vikings trailed at halftime against San Diego on Nov. 4 when Jackson departed because of a concussion. Minnesota rallied to win behind backup Brooks Bollinger.

But Jackson has been at his worst on the road, posting a 26.4 passer rating in Detroit and a 44.2 rating in Dallas, meaning playing in Giants Stadium will provide a good, and difficult, test.

BY THE NUMBERS: 79 — The yardage on WR Sidney Rice's pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe on the first play from scrimmage Sunday against the Raiders. It marked the longest pass by a non-quarterback in Vikings history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It didn't matter who I was playing against. All week, all I told our guys was just to have fun. Don't worry about our record. Just go out there and have fun. I want them smiling every day, joking around with everyone every day. Do whatever it takes to keep things hungry. We had nothing to lose and everything to win." — Pro Bowl nose tackle and team leader Pat Williams talking about the tempo he tried to set last week after the Vikings' 34-0 loss at Green Bay. Minnesota rebounded with a 29-22 victory over Oakland.

NOTES

  • RB Adrian Peterson returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis after missing the victory over Oakland because of a slight tear of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. It's a longshot Peterson would play Sunday against the Giants, but his progress from the injury suffered Nov. 11 against Green Bay is encouraging.

  • RG Anthony Herrera, who moved into a starting role in Week 6, has signed a five-year, $15 million contract that includes $5 million guaranteed. The total base value of the contract is $13.75 million. This continues the Vikings' trend of locking up pending free agents. Earlier this season, the team signed P Chris Kluwe to a long-term extension.

  • FB Tony Richardson did not practice because of an MCL injury, and his status for Sunday's game is in doubt.

  • S Eric Frampton was limited by a groin injury that sidelined him for last Sunday's game.

  • CB Antoine Winfield did not practice because of a hamstring strain that has kept him out of two of the past three games. Winfield started Sunday against Oakland but did not play the second half after the injury flared up.


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