Notebook: 5-0 portends well for purple

The Vikings are 5-0 for the seventh time in team history. Five of the last six times have produced memorable seasons. See the history, the modern-day reaction, and get more than three dozen notes that help tell the tale of the game.

The Vikings remained perfect on the 2009 season, refusing to succumb to worries about a letdown following their emotional win Monday night over the Packers. With their 38-10 dismantling of the St. Louis Rams, the Vikings improved to 5-0 for just the seventh time in the 49-year history of the organization.

While that bodes well for the team, the last time the Vikings got off to a 5-0 start, they didn't even make the playoffs. The year was 2003 and the Mike Tice-led Vikings won their first six games before going on a four-game losing streak. They traded wins and losses until the final game. With a 9-6 record and the lead late in the game, the Vikings were victims of a touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Nathan Poole on a fourth-and-25 play to knock the Minnesota out of the playoffs and give the division title to Brett Favre and the Packers, who had scored a late TD of their own to take the lead and hope for the best.

Ironically, this is a first for Favre.

"It's the first time in my career I'm 5-0. I'm very proud of that and this team," Favre said. "It hasn't come without adversity and we'll continue to face adversity, week in and week out. It's not how you start, but how you finish. I do know it's important to start fast."

Setting 2003 aside, starting 5-0 has been a blessing for the Vikings. In 2000, the team started 7-0 and finished with a loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game. In 1998, they started 7-0 and finished the season 15-1, falling to Atlanta in overtime at home in the NFC Championship Game. In 1975, the Vikings started the season 10-0, finished 12-2 and had home-field advantage – only to lose on the infamous "Hail Mary" pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson. In 1974, the Vikings started 5-0 and lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl IX. In 1973, the Vikings started 9-0 and advanced to the Super Bowl, losing to Miami 24-7.

Fans have tried to contain their enthusiasm about the 2009 Vikings being on a Mission to Miami for the Super Bowl, but the numbers don't lie. With one noteworthy exception, the other five times the Vikings have started 5-0 they have advanced to the NFC title game four times and, if you ask any old Vikings fan, they were robbed the other time.

However, this team is just focusing on the present.

"It's real exciting. I'm sure everybody in this locker room is excited right now, the coaching staff and the whole organization," receiver Sidney Rice said of the undefeated start. "It's something we worked hard for throughout training camp and the offseason as well and we're going to try and continue the same pace."

GAME DAY NOTES

  • Sunday's win was the 400th regular season victory in franchise history.

  • Favre became just the 12th quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start a game after his 40th birthday, which was Saturday.

  • The Rams have now lost 14 straight games, including their last six at home.

  • The Vikings became the fourth team to beat the Rams by 19 points or more.

  • The Rams' 10 points was better than their season average (six points a game). They have been outscored 136-34 this year, including 79-10 in the second half of games.

  • Despite the lopsided score (thanks to four turnovers), the Rams out-gained the Vikings 400-377, running 70 offensive plays to 53 for the Vikings. The Rams had 278 yards passing and 122 yards rushing, while the Vikings had 288 yards passing and 89 yards rushing.

  • The Vikings were extremely efficient on third down, converting seven of 11 opportunities. The Rams weren't too shabby themselves, converting five of 12 and, on one of the third-down conversions they didn't make, they got it on fourth down.

  • The Vikings averaged 9.9 yards for every pass attempt, which includes sacks. It was the highest per-pass average of the season.

  • The Vikings have consistently won the time of possession battle this year, but the Rams held the ball for 32:39 Sunday.

  • In the first 50 games under Brad Childress, the Vikings never had a 300-yard passing day. They technically had their second in three games Sunday, as Favre completed 18 of 24 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Tarvaris Jackson completed three of three passes for 68 yards.

  • Sunday marked the third time in five games that Jackson has come in late to finish the game at quarterback in a Vikings victory.

  • Adrian Peterson never got untracked Sunday, rushing 15 times for 69 yards. Although he is on pace to shatter his career high for touchdowns, with 481 yards after five games, he has fallen below the 100-yard average for the season (he's at 96 yards a game currently), but remains over 100 yards a game for his career – 35 games, 3,582 yards.

  • Percy Harvin led the team in receptions with four for 66 yards, but took a hit late in the first half and didn't have another reception.

  • Visanthe Shiancoe caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown, tying him for the team lead with Harvin.

  • Five different Vikings caught three or more passes Sunday, as Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Chester Taylor each caught three passes.

  • In the first four games, Taylor had just 19 rushing attempts. Thanks to the big lead, Peterson came out with Favre and ailing guard Steve Hutchinson late and Taylor finished with nine carries for 20 yards and a touchdown.

  • The Rams don't have a dynamic offense, but were able to complete 27 of 38 passes for 297 yards with one TD and one interception. Injured starter Marc Bulger came in after Kyle Boller was knocked out of the game by a clothesline tackle from Kevin Williams and completed all seven of the passes he threw for 88 yards and a touchdown.

  • The Vikings haven't been as dominant in stopping the run as they have been in previous years. While they were able to extend their streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 28 games, Steven Jackson ran 21 times for 84 yards and, as a team, the Rams rushed 30 times for 122 yards.

  • In another game Sunday, Cincinnati running back Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards against the Ravens – ending their streak of 40 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher and giving the Vikings the longest active streak of depriving opposing backs to run for the century mark.

  • The Rams spread the ball around in the passing game, as four different players each caught five passes – led by second-year man Donnie Avery, who caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

  • Prior to Sunday, fullback Naufahu Tahi had caught 19 career passes for 52 yards with a career long of seven yards. He shattered that mark in the fourth quarter, taking a screen from Jackson and rumbling 32 yards.

  • Those looking at the box score will see that of the seven players that Favre completed a pass to, one of them was himself. Favre had a pass batted at the line that hit the back of tackle Bryant McKinnie and bounced back to Favre, who was brought down for a 2-yard loss.

  • Punter Chris Kluwe only had to punt twice and averaged 51.5 yards per kick.

  • The Vikings won the battle of penalties, having just five flags called on them for 44 yards. The Rams had seven penalties for 83 yards.

  • The Vikings are now plus-7 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio. The Rams had four turnovers Sunday, while the Vikings had just one.

  • The Vikings were 4-for-4 in the red zone scoring touchdowns. The Rams were 0-for-4, giving them just three points in the red zone while the Vikings scored 28 points.

  • Boller was fortunate he didn't get injured badly Sunday. He was knocked out in the fourth quarter by a clothesline hit from Edwards, but had his head twisted by Kevin Williams, who reached out while being blocked and got his hand inside Boller's helmet – turning his head violently sideways in recording a sack.

  • The Vikings came into Sunday's game as the highest scoring team in the league in the third quarter with 38 points. They added a touchdown Sunday and have outscored opponents 45-3 in the third quarter.

  • On the flip side of that, the Rams have been outscored 38-3 in the third quarter.

  • At halftime, the Rams held a yardage edge of 207-157, with 134 yards passing and 73 yards rushing, while the Vikings had 115 yards passing and 42 rushing.

  • The Rams held the ball for 17:22 of the first half, but turnovers resulted in them trailing 17-3 at the half.

  • In the first half, Favre completed 11 of 15 passes for 127 yards. Peterson had eight carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and Harvin led all receivers with four catches for 66 yards.

  • For the Rams in the first half, Boller completed 11 of 17 passes for 147 yards, Jackson rushed 13 times for 48 yards and five different Rams had more than 20 yards receiving.

  • The Rams have failed to score a point in the first quarter all season.

  • Peterson had 21 yards rushing in both the first and second quarters, but would have just 27 yards in the second half.

  • What a week it was for Jared Allen. After getting 4.5 sacks and a safety Monday night, Allen had two fumble recoveries, bringing one back for a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.

  • Phil Loadholt missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury and was replaced by Artis Hicks. There had been some debate that Ryan Cook, who started most of the last two years at right tackle, would replace Loadholt, but the veteran Hicks got the assignment and did a solid job defending Leonard Little much of the game.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this hot topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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