While the Vikings had the lead at halftime in Jacksonville, they were being dominated statistically. That turned around in the second half, as a ball-control offense took control of the game. Plus, get more than 30 other game notes that help tell the tale of the 30-12 win over the Jaguars.
There are times in every season that serve as "make or break" points. The Vikings had one of those Sunday in their 30-12 win over Jacksonville. In a first half in which they were completely dominated, they still led 17-10 at halftime. They needed to impose their own will in the second half.
They did so in the form of time of possession. It would have seemed impossible that the Vikings could win the time of possession battle at halftime. Despite having a seven-point lead, the Vikings offense had managed just 70 total yards and held the ball for just nine minutes, 39 seconds. But in the second half, the combination of a ball-control offense and opportunistic defense turned what could have been a nail-biter into a blowout.
In three possessions following an initial possession that last only four plays, the Vikings had drives of seven, 11 and 10 plays that all led to points – 13 on a pair of Ryan Longwell
field goals and a 16-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson
. In contrast, the five second-half drives by the Jaguars had none that were more than three minutes long and three that ended with turnovers.
Heading into their back-to-back road trips into Florida, it was clear that the Vikings needed at a minimum to win one of two. After the loss to Tampa Bay, it made winning in Jacksonville imperative. Thanks to a strong second half on both sides of the football, the Vikings not only won an inexplicable time of possession 30:29 to 29:31 (holding the ball for 20 minutes, 50 seconds of the second half), but won the game going away.
GAME DAY NOTES
Adrian Peterson finished the game with 17 carries for 80 yards rushing, giving him 1,180 for the season and 2,521 for his career – joining Eric Dickerson, Jim Brown and Edgerrin James as the only running backs to top 2,500 rushing yards in the first 25 games of their careers.
Entering play on Sunday, the Jaguars had just 10 giveaways – six interceptions and four fumbles. Against the Vikings, they had five – fumbling the ball away three times and throwing two interceptions.
The Jaguars held a significant edge in total yardage (321-226), but were outgained 156-112 in the second half.
Both teams struggled on third down – the Vikings converted just four of 13 chances, while the Jags made good on just six of 14, including just one of five in the second half.
Jacksonville had its worst rushing day of the season, carry 14 times for just 35 yards. They had just seven rushes in the first half for 21 yards and seven rushes in the second half for 14 yards.
Of the 63 offensive plays run by Jacksonville Sunday, 49 of them were pass plays. The Vikings had 57 offensive plays – 34 runs and 23 passes.
The Jaguars were called for eight penalties – four of them on right tackle Tony Pashos, who had one of the worst days of his pro career.
Through the first 10 games of the season, Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee had missed just two of 17 field goals and was 4-for-4 from 50 yards and beyond. On Sunday, he missed two field goals – from 46 and 38 yards.
His counterpart Ryan Longwell has made 22 of 26 field goals this season and is 4-from-4 from beyond 50 yards. His 54-yarder Sunday goes along with another 54-yarder and two 53-yard field goals earlier this season.
The Jacksonville running game was all but nonexistent Sunday. Fred Taylor had just six carries for 20 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew had just three carries for 4 yards. Three Vikings – Peterson (80), Chester Taylor (25) and Bernard Berrian (22) – had more rushing yards than any of the Jags players.
Jones-Drew did almost all of his damage as a receiver, catching nine passes for 113 yards.
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe led the Vikings with three catches for 60 yards, including a 40-yarder.
Sidney Rice, who had just seven receptions coming into the game, caught three passes Sunday.
The Vikings leader in receptions (Bobby Wade) had just one catch and the leader in receiving yards (Berrian) had just six yards receiving.
Antoine Winfield had a huge game, registering 12 tackles (11 solo) and a forced fumble.
The Vikings haven't been much of a threat to return interceptions this year. Of the eight picks the Vikings have, they have just 4 return yards after the interceptions.
Kevin Williams took over the team lead in sacks from Jared Allen Sunday. Williams had 1.5 sacks to bring his season total to 8.5 – a half-sack ahead of Allen.
Pat Williams got his first sack of the season Sunday, as did backup tackle Ellis Wyms.
Coming into play Sunday, the Vikings had just four sacks on the road in five games. They doubled that total with four sacks on Sunday.
On the Vikings' touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, Chester Taylor came up big on third down – converting one first down with an 18-yard draw on a third-and-14 play and converting a third-and-7 with a 10-yard reception. On the next play following the second conversion, Peterson scored on a 16-yard touchdown.
There were some people holding their breath in the fourth quarter as Jared Allen made a couple of sideline hits on Garrard that have been the cause for fines to be levied against him in recent weeks. No penalties were called. Now we just have to wait until Friday to see what the fine police have to say.
Tarvaris Jackson got in for one play Sunday because Gus Frerotte took a beating that caused the training staff to attend to him three different times during the game.
Had the game turned out differently, there would have been some serious playcalling questions leveled at Brad Childress. On a fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter, instead of giving the ball to Peterson, the Vikings ran a sneak with Frerotte. Later in the same drive, with a first down on the 2-yard line, instead of giving the ball to Peterson, the Vikings tried to pass and Frerotte was sacked for a 10-yard loss.
After rookie Brian Witherspoon fumbled both a kickoff and a punt, the Jaguars turned to Jones-Drew to be their return man.
The numbers at the half were brutal everywhere for the Vikings except the scoreboard. Jacksonville held the ball for 20:21 of the first half. They were 5 of 9 on third down conversions, while the Vikings were just 1 of 4 and they had 209 total yards (184 passing, 25 rushing) to just 70 (57 rushing, 13 passing) for the Vikings.
Individually, Garrard completed 17 of 25 passes in the first half alone for 188 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to eight different receivers, led by Jones-Drew, who had five catches for 67 yards.
Things couldn't have been much worse for the Vikings offense in the first half. Frerotte completed just 3 of 7 passes for 19 yards and an interception. Peterson had six carries for 32 yards and Rice was the leading receiver with two catches for just 13 yards.
The Vikings deactivated Maurice Hicks for Sunday's game and brought up Darius Reynaud from the practice squad. Reynaud looked tentative in his role as a return man. On his first kick return opportunity, Reynaud let the ball hit the ground. Fortunately for the Vikings, it took a hard bounce toward the sideline and went out of bounds.
The Vikings dropped Bernard Berrian back as a punt return man twice during the game as well.
The Jaguars tried an on-side kick in the first quarter that the Vikings clearly weren't expecting. However, like so many other facets of the game Sunday, the play blew up on the Jaguars. Aside from not going the required 10 yards, even if it had been successful, it would have been called back because a Jacksonville player was offside.
The Vikings punt coverage team looked vulnerable once again, allowing a 38-yard punt return in the first half that would eventually lead to Jacksonville's first score of the game.
The Vikings had a 14-0 lead just one minute, 49 seconds into the game.
Peterson didn't play in the first two offensive series for the Vikings as punishment for being late to a team meeting on Saturday, the second time that has happened in his young career.
It wasn't a good day to be a home team in the early games Sunday. Of the nine games that started at 1 p.m. EST, only two home teams won the game. Among the losers were formerly undefeated Tennessee.