Brett Favre operated his passing attack Sunday much like he has all season long – showing no favorites among his receivers and showing little mercy for defenses stacked to stop Adrian Peterson.
The Rams had relatively good defensive success in limiting Peterson, holding him to 69 yards on 15 carries, although he did have two touchdowns.
But Favre did what he has done all season, finding the single-covered receiver and exploiting those matchups.
The Vikings' receiving corps entered the game with the top four receivers hauling in between 14 and 18 catches on the season, and all of them between 138 and 177 yards. Chester Taylor had the most receptions (18) but fewest yards (138) among that group. Bernard Berrian had 17 receptions for 177 yards, Sidney Rice 14 for 172, and Percy Harvin 14 for 167. Visanthe Shiancoe had nine catches through four weeks.
"He's (Brett Favre) done a great job. He's spreading the ball around," said Rice. "Percy's getting a lot of balls, Bernard's getting a lot of balls and I'm getting balls myself. Shiancoe's catching the ball very good. He's even hitting the running backs out of the backfield and he's helping out this team a tremendous amount."
Harvin was the early target for Favre against the Rams. On the first drive alone, he hauled in passes of 22 and 24 yards to set up the game's initial touchdown by Peterson. The rest of the way, Harvin had only two catches, with each of those coming in the first half.
Favre's spread-the-love quarterbacking style has led to success for the team, going 5-0 for only the seventh time in history. Favre has never had a quarterback rating of 100 or more for a single season. Through five games, he's at 104.1.
On Sunday, the equal-opportunity thrower was back it. Harvin, Shiancoe, Rice, Taylor and Berrian all had three or more catches. Harvin led the way with four receptions for 66 yards and Shiancoe equaled the receptions, totaling four catches for 49 yards. Rice had three catches for 61 yards and Taylor had three for 49 yards.
"It's all about communication," said Rice. "That's our main focus with the quarterbacks – communication. Coach (Brad Childress) always says, you can never communicate too much. We try to stay in Brett's ear and let him know what we're seeing and he always gives us the opportunity when we see things and it's great."
Even Shiancoe, who might not be garnering quite the stats he was expecting when the Vikings signed Favre, is pleased with the overall offense.
"All the components are going together. We just have to sharpen up the sword a little bit," he said. "This was a good test for us coming off Monday night, with a short week and playing a team that has their backs against the wall. That was a good win for us."
As for the former gunslinger turned efficiency expert, he just sees a talent-laden team that now has him in control.
"I think physically and from a talent level, this is the best team I've ever been on," he said. "I said this from day one: It's all how it shakes out. You have to have a little luck. The injury bug is always a factor for everyone. But to me, how our chemistry continues to come together is the most important thing and that goes from play-calling to who runs this route better, what run and what play-action comes off one play to the next and also getting into the zone, if you will. We won that game (Sunday), but we did not play our best football. Out of the five games we've played so far, it was just kind of average. But, we were able to win it. There's tremendous potential, but that alone will not win games for you."
CHILDRESS CALLED IT
Vikings coach Brad Childress insisted last week that the St. Louis Rams were a team that could move the ball.
They did. At halftime, the Rams were dominating the statistics. They had more first downs (14-9), more total yards (207-157), more passing yards (134-115) and more rushing yards (73-42).
But, continuing their theme for the season, the Rams also had more turnovers – three to the Vikings' one in the first half and four to one in the game. Childress said last week that the Rams were competitive in most of their four losses to start the season, but turnovers or blown plays opened up the game for their opponents.
"I don't see any lack of effort. I see guys playing hard," Childress said of the Rams last Wednesday. "I just need to point to the San Francisco game where it's a 0-0 game until a ball tips a guy in the foot, kind of like it did to Chuck Gordon last year in the Bears game. They were playing very tough two weeks ago and Donald Driver makes a great catch and things kind of opened up a little bit from there, but they were playing them off their feet right there. I just know what the mentality is and what he is instilling in those guys down there and what kind of system he is putting in."
It was much the same against the Vikings, as an unforced fumble from quarterback Kyle Boller resulted in a touchdown for Jared Allen for a 14-0 Vikings lead, and three other turnovers kept the Rams from potential scores inside the Vikings 10-yard line.
At face value, seeing a winless Rams team going up against an undefeated Vikings team conjured up thoughts of a blowout, which it turned out to be in a 38-10 game, but it may have been far different if the Rams had gotten away from their tendency of self-destruction.
"You see signs if you keep sticking to your knitting; their scheme is good," Childress said. "… All you have to do is look a little at that tape and it will get your attention in a hurry. What they are doing is extremely sound – it will just be a matter of time before they get it right."
RUN DEFENSE EXTENDS STREAK
Running back Steven Jackson may have had a repeat performance of the last time he faced the Vikings if the score hadn't gotten out of hand. On Dec. 31, 2006, Jackson became the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against the Vikings in 28 games and he stymied Minnesota's run defense from setting a modern-day record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a season. Jackson ran for 142 yards in that game.
On Sunday, the Vikings held Jackson under 100 yards, and it was the extension of their new streak – once again 28 games without an individual rushing for more than 100 yards against the Vikings. Jackson had 84 yards on 21 carries.
"Steven Jackson had a great day with running the ball," said Rams center Jason Brown. "He ran the ball very well in the first half. He would have had well over 100 yards rushing but you see how we had to veer away from the running game, and more towards the passing game out of necessity ... we did run the ball very well against a very good defensive front."
Guard Richie Incognito said it was especially satisfying against the Vikings' defensive front.
"I do like beating up on them, especially against a line like that. They're bigger guys, more physical guys, and it gives us an opportunity to get after them like we did. I think we wore them out early," he said.
Interestingly, the Vikings will face Baltimore on Sunday at the Metrodome, and the Ravens just had their 39-game streak of not allowing 100-yard rusher broken by Cincinnati's Cedric Benson. It was the longest such streak in the Super Bowl era since the Philadelphia Eagles went 53 games denying a 100-yard rusher from 1989-92.
TIGHTER ON THE TIGHT ENDS
The Vikings defense had their best outing against tight ends in three games.
Last week, Packers tight Jermichael Finley had 128 yards and a touchdown on Monday Night Football against the Vikings. The week before that, San Francisco's Vernon Davis had 97 yards.
On Sunday, St. Louis spread the ball around in its passing game, much like the Vikings did. Tight ends Daniel Fells and Randy McMichael weren't allowed big games. Fells had 45 yards on five catches and McMichael was held to 45 yards on three catches after a 35-yard reception on the opening drive.
Rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt was among the Vikings' inactives Sunday in St. Louis. Loadholt injured his ankle in training camp and re-aggravated it last week. He participated fully in last Wednesday's practice, but was limited on Thursday and did not participate Friday. Artis Hicks started in place of Loadholt.
Also inactive for the Vikings were QB Sage Rosenfels (third QB), WRs Darius Reynaud and Greg Lewis, CB Asher Allen, RB Albert Young, LB Erin Henderson and DT Letroy Guion.
For St. Louis, QB Kyle Boller started in place of Marc Bulger, who is coming back from a shoulder injury. Bulger did play late in the game after Boller took a hit to the head.
QB Keith Null (third QB), S James Butler, S Anthony Smith, G John Greco, G Roger Allen, WR Ruvell Martin, DE Victory Adeyanju and NT Darell Scott were inactive for the Rams.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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