There were questions heading into this weekend whether Percy Harvin would even play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers because of migraine headaches. Not only did he play, but he provided some key plays in sparking the Vikings' 27-24 win at the Metrodome.
In the days leading up to Sunday's game with the 49ers, there were some doubts that rookie Percy Harvin
would be able to play, much less be a difference-maker. Suffering from painful migraine headaches, his availability wasn't known until Sunday morning.
Not only did he play, but he played a critical role in the Vikings' 27-24 win over the 49ers, catching four passes for 51 yards – two of them coming on the final drive on third downs - and electrifying the Metrodome crowd with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 20-17 lead in the second half.
Harvin said he left it to the medical staff to determine whether he would be able to play Sunday.
"It was up to the trainers," he said. "They did the examination. I wanted to play, but the decision was down to them and they gave me the go to play."
Although the game will likely be remembered for the fantastic finish, it may not have been possible if not for Harvin's 101-yard kickoff return – the second-longest in franchise history. He made a couple of cuts to the left and back to the middle of the field and outraced the defenders for the score. But he was quick to share the accolades.
"A lot of credit goes to the blockers," Harvin said. "We've been talking about that we've been one block away for a couple of weeks now. They did all the work and I had the easy part, because I went untouched. All the credit goes to them."
From his perspective, Harvin said he could see the play developing, but had to make a decision, especially after stumbling making his first cut.
"I stumbled a little bit," Harvin said. "I could have took it either way, but the cutback was going to give me a cleaner alley. When I made the first cut, I felt like I could outrun them or cut back. I felt my blockers pushing them out, so I cut back and there was nobody there."
Harvin became the first Vikings rookie to score a touchdown in each of his first three games, which is saying something considering that guys like Randy Moss
, Adrian Peterson
and Chuck Foreman all made a big splash as rookies. For Harvin, it wasn't about the individual achievement, it was about getting the win.
"It's nice to get touchdowns, because it helps the team," Harvin said. "That's what we're about. If I didn't score and we won, I'd be happy. I'm just happy I was able to do something to help our team win.'
GAME DAY NOTES
It somehow seemed fitting that former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer was in attendance at Sunday's game. Kramer, who was known for late-game heroics – so much so that he earned the nickname "Two-Minute Tommy" – shared a piece of Vikings history with Brett Favre. As a rookie in 1977, Kramer came off the bench in the second half and threw three touchdowns against the 49ers for a last-minute 28-27 win at Metropolitan Stadium.
Favre finished the game completing 24 of 46 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first time in 51 regular-season games with Brad Childress as head coach that a Vikings QB has thrown for 300 yards in a game.
It would have been a painful loss had the Vikings not come back, since they dominated the stat sheet most of the game. The Vikings finished with 377 total yards (283 passing, 94 rushing, as opposed to 246 yards (188 passing, 58 rushing) for the 49ers.
San Francisco was a dismal 0-for-11 on third-down conversion attempts, while the Vikings made good on 10 of 20 chances.
The Vikings held a distinct advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for 32:09 and running 75 offensive plays to just 52 for the 49ers.
Adrian Peterson led the ground attack with 85 yards on 19 carries. It gives him 357 yards on the season – the most yards in the first three games for any Viking. He broke his own record of 340 yards through the first three games last year.
Heading into Sunday's game, no Viking had more than eight receptions. On Sunday alone, Chester Taylor caught seven passes for 70 yards.
In all, seven different Vikings caught passes, including four each by Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice and Harvin.
49ers rookie Glen Coffee had all but one carry for San Francisco, rushing 25 times for 54 yards.
Former Viking Shaun Hill completed 15 of 25 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, most going to tight end Vernon Davis – who caught seven passes for 96 yards and both touchdowns.
The battle of the linebackers was won by E.J. Henderson over Patrick Willis. Henderson had 13 tackles (8 solos), while Willis had 10 tackles (8 solos).
Jared Allen got the only sack for the Vikings, taking over the team lead with two.
As impressive as the final drive was, what made it even more noteworthy was that Favre completed passes to five different receivers in the final drive.
What a difference a drive can make. Six minutes into the third quarter, Coffee had just 24 yards on 12 carries. On his next two carries, he would gain 25 yards on the drive that gave San Francisco a 17-13 lead. He would finish the drive with 30 yards on five carries.
Favre threw his first interception of the season in the third quarter on a pass intended for Berrian that was tipped and picked off by Shawntae Spencer. If was Favre's first interception in 76 passes as a Viking.
Darius Reynaud suffered an injured hamstring returning a punt in the third quarter. He was able to leave the field under his own power but was limping badly as he left the field.
At halftime, the Vikings dominated just about every category but the scoreboard. They gained 201 yards of offense (144 passing, 57 rushing), while the 49ers had just 74 yards (54 passing, 20 rushing). The Vikings had the ball for 18:35 of the first half and were 6 of 11 on third downs. The Niners were 0-for-6 in the first half on third down attempts.
Individually, Favre completed 13 of 26 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown, Peterson rushed 11 times for 59 yards and Taylor caught five passes for 62 yards to lead the team in the first half. Sidney Rice had the only touchdown, catching thee passes for 47 yards.
For the 49ers in the first half, Hill completed just 6 of 14 passes for 61 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Coffee rushed nine times for just 16 yards and Josh Morgan led the team with three catches for 39 yards.
The Vikings have made improvements on special teams this year but have allowed two touchdowns off special teams in three games.
The 49ers didn't cross midfield until 12:21 remained in the first half and didn't get a first down until 12:15 to play – and that came on a Vikings penalty.
San Francisco got some bad news early, as running back Frank Gore was taken off the field on a cart with an ankle injury after rushing the ball just once. Rookie Glen Coffee replaced him in the lineup. Coffee got injured on the second series after carrying the ball just twice but returned one play later.
The numbers don't always tell the true story of a play. 49ers punter Andy Lee hit one of the ugliest punts he could – a wobbling duck that went about 25 yards on the fly. But the ball hit and kept rolling. By the time it came to a stop, Lee was credited with a 57-yard punt. Later in the game, Chris Kluwe would hit a similar punt that was so short, it was allowed to bounce. After the roll, he got credit for a 60-yard punt.
The Vikings defense came out on fire early. On the first play of the game from the Niners 23-yard line, Jared Allen slapped the ball out of Hill's hand. Left tackle Joe Staley recovered, but the 49ers were pinned deep and quickly went out. Hill threw an incompletion and a five-yard false start penalty gave the 49ers a net of minus-11 yards on their first drive.
The NFL's official website had a case of mistaken Hendersons prior to the game. Erin Henderson was listed as inactive on the team's in-stadium injury report. But NFL.com listed E.J. Henderson as being inactive – a faux pas that could have had an impact on the gambling community.
For the second straight week, safety Husain Abdullah was a healthy scratch. He was put on the inactive list, while rookie Jamarca Sanford and Eric Frampton were active.
Vikings great Jim Marshall, who saw his consecutive games started streak broken last week against the Lions, blew the ceremonial Gjallarhorn prior to the Sunday's game.
The attendance was 63,398 – the 118th straight sellout at the Metrodome since 1998.