PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — The Vikings appear to be going backward in this area. Veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte had only 20 attempts for the second consecutive week and passed for a season-low 120 yards. In the past five games, Frerotte's passing yardage has gone from 298 against Chicago, to 182 against Houston, to 151 against Green Bay, to 138 against Tampa Bay and then 120 on Sunday at Jacksonville. Frerotte did not have a touchdown pass against the Jaguars. He was sacked three times and picked off once when he made a poor throw while being hit on a rollout. Frerotte's insistence on trying to create plays led to coach Brad Childress criticizing him for not throwing the ball away at times and "living to play another down." Another disturbing fact was that wide receiver Bernard Berrian had only one catch for 6 yards. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and wide receiver Sidney Rice led the team with three receptions apiece; Shiancoe's catches went for 60 yards, including a 40-yarder in the third quarter that set up a Ryan Longwell field goal.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus — Running back Adrian Peterson was held out for the first two series against the Jaguars after being late for a team meeting on Saturday. He tied for his season low with 17 carries and was held to under 100 yards for the second consecutive game after going four in a row with more than 100 yards. Peterson gained 80 yards, five fewer than he had the previous week at Tampa Bay, but did manage to score on a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter during a play in which fullback Naufahu Tahi threw a key block. Chester Taylor started in place of Peterson and rushed nine times for 25 yards and a touchdown. Taylor's first carry of the day went for 11 yards and one play later he scored on a 3-yard run. The Vikings finished with 122 yards on 34 carries, a 3.6 average, marking the eighth time in 11 games they have rushed for more than 100 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: C — Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier employs a Tampa-2 zone-oriented defense, but he often mixes in some man-to-man coverage. On Sunday, Frazier used more man coverage than he had all season in part because he felt the Jaguars' receivers could not separate from the Vikings cornerbacks. Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard ended up completing 27 of 45 passes for 317 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Those were only the seventh and eighth picks by the Vikings this season - nickel back Benny Sapp had one and safety Madieu Williams the other - and only their third and fourth on the road. Nine of Garrard's completions went to running back Maurice Jones-Drew and four more were directed at tight end Mercedes Lewis. Eleven completions went to receivers, with the longest being a 30-yarder to Dennis Northcutt. The pass rush got to Garrard four times, the most sacks the Vikings have had in a road game this season.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — What more can one say about this unit? Ranked second in the NFL entering the game, the Vikings held Jaguars running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to a combined 24 yards on only nine carries. And that's considered one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. Taylor had 20 yards on six attempts and Jones-Drew, far more of a receiving threat, had 4 yards on three attempts. Jacksonville got up to 35 yards as a team because quarterback David Garrard was able to scramble for 11 yards on five carries. That means eight of the Vikings' 11 opponents have now been held to under 100 yards rushing.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — The Vikings did some juggling with their return units, promoting wide receiver Darius Reynaud from the practice squad to return kicks and moving wide receiver Bernard Berrian into the punt-return role. The results were not overwhelming as Reynaud averaged 18 yards on two kick returns and Berrian returned one punt for 19 yards. The biggest positive was that kicker Ryan Longwell made all three of his field-goal attempts (54, 32 and 22 yards). The Vikings coverage units continued to be shaky, giving up a 38-yard punt return and a 33-yard kick return. However, they also forced a fumble by Brian Witherspoon on a kickoff early in the game. Dontarrious Thomas recovered the fumble, and the Vikings turned that into a touchdown.
COACHING: B — The Vikings deserve credit for jumping to an early 14-0 lead and then, despite not playing a great game, still staying focused and not enabling the Jaguars to rally. Leading 17-10 at the half, the Vikings outscored the Jaguars 13-2 in the second half to close out an opponent with authority for one of the first times this season. That gave coach Brad Childress' team only its second victory on the road this season and its first at an outdoor stadium in 2008. Childress also showed guts by benching Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson for the first two series of the game after he was late to a team meeting Saturday. Cornerback Cedric Griffin was benched for the first defensive series for the same reason.
Grading the game: Jaguars
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