Some key numbers from this past week’s impressive overall performance by the Vikings: They dominated time-of-possession 37:02-to-22:58, they averaged 6.7-yards per offensive play, they were 6-of-10 (60%) on third-down conversions, they rushed for 216 yards and averaged 5.5 per carry, three different passers combined for a 109.6 passer rating, they punted only once and the offense put 35 points on the board.
Tarvaris Jackson has his finest performance to date as he completed 18-of-24 passes for 204 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and a passer rating of 110.4. He also extended drives with his feet and rushed for 20 yards on 5 carries (including two kneel-downs for -1 each). His decision-making was sound, he was on target consistently all day, and he zipped some very nice throws. His timing was superb on several slant patterns, he came off his primary target on one touchdown throw and showed nice touch on the alley-oop for six. Of his six incompletions, one was a throwaway, one was a drop, one was a spike to stop the clock, one was a deep throw downfield, one his receiver was well-covered, and the final was an ill-advised interception when he tried to force the ball into his receiver. However, his subsequent tackle knocked the Lions’ defender out of action. To nitpick: He held the ball too long on the one sack taken (but did not force the ball and the loss was just 4 yards), he took a delay-of-game penalty and was also responsible for a false-start infraction. Jackson looked very efficient and ran the West Coast Offense to near perfection this week, showing fans a sampling of what the Vikings envisioned he was capable of becoming. He’ll still have more off days for sure, but this was another big step forward in the developmental process for Jackson.
Returning from a sprained MCL and wearing a bulky knee brace, rookie Adrian Peterson officially started and certainly looked no worse for wear. He carried the ball 15 times for 116 yards (7.7 avg.), with a long run of 28 yards and 2 touchdown runs. He also caught one pass for 10 yards and did a very nice job on one blitz pickup situation. Peterson showed only modest hesitation early on before quickly getting untracked. His first touchdown run from 28 yards out was vintage Peterson as he cut back, used his exceptional blocking at the point of attack, broke tackles, avoided tackles and then simply poured on his breakaway speed. It was another of those runs that likely would have been a score from just about anywhere on the field. His second TD run was perhaps the finest one-on-one move he’s shown to date as he juked safety Kenoy Kennedy to the ground without getting a hand on him as he high-stepped into the endzone. After that play, the coaches shut him down for the rest of the day with 10:06 left in the third quarter still.
Chester Taylor rotated with Peterson early and then took over much of the second half. Taylor finished with 14 carries for 70 yards (5.0 avg.), with a long run of 15 yards and the team’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run to complete an impressive opening drive. He also caught 2 passes for 17 yards. Taylor should have had a touchdown pass on an option pass late in the game, but the defender was able to knock the ball out of his receiver’s hands.
Mewelde Moore had 3 carries: +5 and +2 off right end and -2 up the middle. He did what he could with the blocking he had.
Tony Richardson delivered several key lead blocks in the running game before also taking an early exit to save on a bum knee that he’s playing with. Statistically, he has one carry from scrimmage for 2 yards and caught a swing pass that gained 11 yards. Richardson was out front on both the team’s first two rushing touchdowns.
Jeff Dugan actually started the game as one of three tight ends. He likely won’t have a more versatile or statistically productive performance. He caught one dumpoff pass for 2 yards, but then picked up 27 yards on a shuffle-pass from field goal formation. He also got a third-down carry for 4 yards to convert to a first-down. When Richardson went out, Dugan took the fullback reps.
Naufahu Tahi played exclusively on special teams.
Bobby Wade started and caught his first touchdown pass of the season, a six-yarder in the second quarter that put the Vikings up 28-10. He finished with 4 catches for 54 yards, including a longest of 19 yards. He was flagged for a holding penalty that shortened a 13-yard run by Taylor in the second quarter, but also delivered numerous key blocks downfield that really opened up the running game.
Sidney Rice caught 5-53-1, including a 2-yard touchdown that looked very Randy Moss-like. He also had a 22-yard grab to go with three clutch receptions on those typical WCO slant patterns inside. The future looks bright for the rookie wide receiver.
The team’s other rookie wideout, Aundrae Allison, also showed flashes of brilliance. He caught two passes, one was a short pass that he turned into 35 yards, the other another short hitch that he turned into 17 yards. Roughly 32 of his 52 receiving yards came running with the ball after the catch and he broke tackles and/or weaved and accelerated his way upfield. Allison is such a fluid athlete that he makes big plays look almost effortless. This might very well have been his breakout game as a rookie and might demand that he become more involved on Sundays.
Veteran Robert Ferguson got some reps but caught just one dumpoff that resulted in a 2-yard loss. Credit him for some downfield blocks, though, especially on one of Taylor’s more successful runs.
Troy Williamson was inactive as a result of the remnants of the concussion he suffered the week before.
Shiancoe caught just one pass for 7 yards and could not hold onto the pass from Taylor late in the game. Shiancoe continued to show himself as a rather tenacious blocker once again, an area where he has been better than advertised.
Kleinsasser was not involved in the passing game, but he was a key contributor in the running game, with numerous very impressive blocks sealing off on the edge. There isn’t a better all-around blocking tight end in the league.
As a unit, the entire offensive line was simply outstanding this week. The normally dominant Shaun Rogers was extremely quiet (2 tackles) and had little impact. Cory Redding split the gap to disrupt on one play but was otherwise well-contained by the interior of the Vikings’ offensive line. Left end Jared DeVries had the Lions’ only sack on a play in which he eventually made his way around Peterson. DeVries also had the only pressure of the day. Right end Dewayne White (1 tackle) and Kalimba Edwards (no tackles) were also rather quiet.
The interior of OLG Steve Hutchinson, C Matt Birk and ORG Anthony Herrera were primarily responsible for neutralizing their big guns inside. Hutch and Birk did quite a job on Rogers much of the day. And Herrera was just outstanding. He delivered key blocks on many of the team’s long runs, including one in which he knocked Shaun Cody some 7 yards downfield on a 14-yard run by Taylor in the first quarter. He also had knockdown blocks on both of Peterson’s touchdown runs, held the fort nicely in pass protection and was very effective pulling, trapping and sealing off defenders in the open field. This might have been Herrera’s strongest game thus far.
ORT Ryan Cook and OLT Bryant McKinnie stonewalled any significant pass rush pressure of the edge and were also solid in the running game. McKinnie has made significant strides in that aspect of his performance from previous years. Cook continues to be underrated for his run blocking.
Artis Hicks took a couple snaps at left tackle when McKinnie got his knee rolled up on, but he returned. Hicks finished the game with some reps at left guard during mop-up time during the final two series. Cook moved inside to center with Marcus Johnson coming in at right tackle late in the game.
Rookie Chase Johnson has yet to be active for a game this season.
Very few blemishes, from top to bottom, in this week’s performance.
Coming soon: Defense