Linebacker Chad Greenway isn't among the first players mentioned on the Vikings defense, but he was their biggest playmaker in a 27-13 win over Detroit. Plus, get 30 notes that help tell the story of the game.
When the Vikings drafted Chad Greenway
in the first round of the 2006 draft, the expectation was that he was going to be a versatile playmaker. Greenway provided the kind of performances they were expecting Sunday, making four plays that helped turn the game around.
While the stat sheet will say he had only three tackles and one assist, it was the other things he did that made the difference Sunday. Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter and with the defense on its heels at the Minnesota own 38-yard line, the Lions were close to being in scoring position again. But Greenway made a big interception by reading the eyes of rookie QB Matthew Stafford
that killed the drive. While the Vikings didn't capitalize on the play with points, it kept the Lions from adding to their lead.
With the game tied 10-10 in the third quarter, Greenway was again the man on the spot making the big play. As running back Kevin Smith
took a sweep to the left of the defense, Ray Edwards
punched the ball loose and Greenway alertly dove on the loose ball. This time, the Vikings would cash in, as Adrian Peterson
scored on a 27-yard run for a touchdown on the next play to give the Vikings a lead they never surrendered.
With the Vikings leading 20-10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lions had another drive going … until Greenway made his second interception of the day. Not only did he pick the ball off at midfield, but he returned it all the way to the Detroit 16-yard line. Three plays later, the Vikings scored to take a 27-10 lead.
With the Lions gasping for their lives with 2:37 to play and trailing by two touchdowns, Greenway corralled the onside kick attempt and almost broke it for a touchdown, being tackled on the Detroit 33-yard line where the Vikings could run out the clock.
When people discuss the Vikings defense, names like Jared Allen
, Kevin Williams
, Pat Williams
, Antoine Winfield
and E.J. Henderson
are the ones most talked about, but in Sunday's game Greenway proved why he was a first-round draft pick and gets our defensive game ball for making the plays that not only turned the game around, but sealed the deal.
GAME DAY NOTES
A lot of people thought the Monday night game with the Packers in two weeks would be a matchup of a pair of 3-0 teams, but following Green Bay's 31-24 upset loss at home to Cincinnati, the Vikings are alone atop the NFC North at 2-0.
While the Vikings are 2-0 on the season, there has to be some concern about the rushing defense, which allowed 129 yards on 34 carries to the Lions Sunday. In their first two games, they have faced two of the league's worst rushing offenses, yet have been regularly gashed for significant, consistent gains.
Thanks to having Tarvaris Jackson taking a knee three times to end the game, the total yards finished in a dead tie at 265 yards for each team. The Vikings had 153 yards passing and 112 yards rushing, while the Lions had 136 yards passing and 129 yards rushing.
After gaining almost all of their first downs in Week 1 rushing the ball, the Vikings had just four first downs rushing. They got 13 passing first downs and one by penalty on a pass.
The Vikings struggled on third down, converting just 3 of 11 chances. The Lions weren't much better, converting on 5 of 13 attempts (38 percent). However, both teams were perfect on fourth down, the Vikings making good on their one attempt and the Lions going 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversions.
Thanks to playing a prevent defense late in the game that allowed the Lions to run several plays, Detroit won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 30:25 of the game.
Brett Favre was extremely efficient Sunday, completing 23 of 27 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford fared much worse, completing 18 of 30 passes for 152 yards with one TD and two interceptions.
For the second straight game, Tarvaris Jackson mopped up at the end, taking a knee three times to end the game and putting the Vikings in position to kill the clock by completing his only pass for 14 yards to Chester Taylor. But it wasn't his only action of the day. On a punt formation by the Vikings, Jackson lined up as the "up man" in between punter Chris Kluwe and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler. While the team didn't do anything with the play, it was likely intended to give other teams a special teams look that would indicate the Vikings might pass out of a punt formation at some time during the season, which would likely prevent some teams from dropping players back to set up a return in the future.
The Vikings weren't the only ones with a wrinkle in the punting game. The Lions pretended they were going to run a fake punt, only to back out of it when the Vikings stacked the line of scrimmage with players.
Thanks to a couple of big runs, Adrian Peterson finished with 92 yards on 15 carries and his fourth touchdown of the year. For those keeping score at home, Peterson now has 272 yards through two games, which would put him on pace to gain 2,176 yards rushing. A.D. also got more use in the passing game, catching four passes for 24 yards.
The Vikings extended their active streak to 25 games of not allowing an individual 100-yard rusher – the last being Ryan Grant in a blowout loss to the Packers Nov. 11, 2007. However, if the Lions hadn't have been forced to throw late, Kevin Smith may have been the guy to end the streak. He had 24 carries for 83 yards, but had just one rush for four yards in the fourth quarter.
Percy Harvin is quickly developing into a favorite of Favre's. He has become a primary third-down option and had five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown and two rushes for 14 yards. On the Vikings' final two scoring drives, Harvin had two receptions for 18 yards, took a reverse for 13 yards on one drive and caught a 3-yard touchdown pass on the other. He also had three kickoff returns for an average of 26.3 yards a pop.
Bernard Berrian led the Vikings with six receptions for 46 yards and six Vikings had two or more receptions.
Although he had a 43-yard pass called back due to penalty, Lions top receiving threat Calvin Johnson was limited to 51 yards on five catches, but one of them was Stafford's first career touchdown pass. Eight different Lions caught passes, but Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (four catches, 40 yards) were the only ones to catch more than two.
The Vikings have yet to throw an interception in 51 pass attempts so far this season, while earning three picks with their defense.
Ray Edwards had a big day, making seven tackles, one assist, one sack and forcing a fumble. Edwards and E.J. Henderson both notched seven tackles.
The Vikings coverage teams had a strong day. The Lions averaged just 16 yards per kickoff return and only returned one punt for seven yards.
Vikings fans held their breath in the fourth quarter when Favre was leveled by linebacker Larry Foote and appeared to grab his left wrist. He got up and continued playing, but every time he goes down, fans are going to wonder if that will be the shot that puts him out. In the third quarter, Favre put himself at risk by making a block on a run in which Peterson improvised and turned a run for no gain up the middle into a 14-yard gain down the left sideline.
Madieu Williams was injured in the fourth quarter and had his braces go through his lip. Williams missed all of the preseason and the first half of the regular season last year with a neck injury.
Perhaps karma got the best of Lions offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus. In the last meeting between the teams, Cherilus took a dive at the knees of Jared Allen, which had the Vikings defensive end irate and chasing him down the field hopping on one good leg. On what appeared to be a questionable call at best, Cherilus was flagged for a chop block on Kevin Williams, which negated a 43-yard completion to Calvin Johnson.
In his first seven carries of the game, Peterson ran for just 16 yards. On his next five rushing attempts, he gained 59 yards.
The Vikings set the tone in the second half early with sacks by Edwards and Allen on the first two Detroit pass plays of the second half. It came as something of a surprise that the Lions came out passing, because they controlled the tempo of the first by not passing. Detroit ran 32 plays in the first half – 24 rushes and just eight passes.
At halftime, the Lions held a significant edge in most statistical categories. They had 150 total yards (94 rushing, 56 passing) to just 113 for the Vikings (70 passing, 43 rushing). Detroit held the ball for 16:24 of the first half.
Individually in the first half, Favre completed 11 of 12 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, completing passes to seven different receivers. Peterson was the leading rusher and receiver with nine carries for 41 yards and four receptions for 24 yards.
Stafford completed 6 of 8 passes in the first half for 56 yards with one TD and one interception. Smith out-performed Peterson, rushing 14 times for 48 yards.
Calvin Johnson did more damage as a runner than a receiver early on. He had two catches for 14 yards and a touchdown and two rushes for 16 yards in the first half.
In their touchdown drive late in the first half, Favre was 7-for-7 passing for 50 yards, including a scoring throw to Visanthe Shiancoe.
When Detroit scored its first points of the game, it was their first lead of the season. The Vikings experienced their largest deficit at 10 points before scoring 27 straight to blow the game open.
The Vikings planned to run a Wildcat formation early, sending Favre to the sidelines. But the play took too much time to get the right personnel on the field and the team called a timeout. After thinking it over, they abandoned the formation for a more conventional play call.
Favre's start was the 271st of his career, breaking the mark established by Jim Marshall, who played for the Vikings from their inaugural season until he retired in 1979.