Adjustments helping Rice excel

Sidney Rice had a career day Sunday and is moving up the NFL rankings, but the team's two most explosive plays of the game required adjustments by the receiver and quarterback.

The best plays aren't always scripted, but the growing familiarity between the Vikings receivers and quarterback Brett Favre is allowing them to make plays on a more consistent basis.

The biggest play of the day against the Ravens was the result of Sunday at the Improv. No hand signal. No special pre-snap words, just wide receiver Sidney Rice making an adjustment and Favre being right in step.

"It was the route that I had changed myself, but Brett made a great read on the defender who was outside of me and the safety came down," Rice said. "I just decided to take it at a slight angle and he cocked back and let the ball go. It was on a straight line right there and I was able to make a play on it."

The result was a 58-yard completion with three minutes to play that put the Vikings in field goal position to take a 33-31 lead, which turned out to be the winning score.

"Sidney had one-on-one coverage. I think that is (our) advantage no matter who it is covering him, I really do," Favre said. "To be honest with you, I actually got the edge so good that it enabled me to do that."

Rice said he could feel cornerback Frank Walker pulling on his jersey (he was flagged for pass interference), but Rice said "my concentration was on the ball the whole time" and he made the catch.

While there was no signal from Favre to Rice or vice versa to make the adjustment presnap, Childress said he thought there was an alert on the play that allowed Favre to switch the original play call.

"I believe it was a run or pass and we just alerted to the pass and we got the look we wanted," Childress said. "They had one extra body in the box. (Brett) has a great rapport with Sidney. I think Sidney has never been over 100 yards (receiving) and he had 176 in this game. They had numbers on us in the box where we wanted to run so we just alerted to the pass."

Favre certainly could have released the ball earlier and still had a completion to Rice, but he pump-faked first, waited and released the ball when Rice was further down the field.

"Brett did a great job keeping his eyes open and keeping his eyes down field and being able to see that," Rice said.

It was the last of six receptions Rice made on the day, finished with a career-high 176 yards. He also had a 63-yard pass play in the third quarter that set up a field goal. He made an adjustment on that play as well.

"It was a slant route and I took an extra step. I wasn't expecting the ball because it was a run play," he said. "I didn't think that he had changed it, but when I saw the safety pass my face, I just kind of looked in and he let the ball go. Hit me right in the chest and I was able to dodge a couple defenders and get right down the sideline."

Rice's 176 yards against the Ravens was the fifth-highest single-game receiving total in the league this year, and his six receptions were the fewest among the top 10 yardage leaders in that category. He also cracked the league's top 10 in receiving yards for the season, checking in at ninth with 409 yards.

Favre's confidence in the tall, strong receiver is obvious, despite a lack of deep speed.

"I would hate to be a corner having to jump up and cover him or make a play on the ball," Favre said. "The guy has nearly a 50-inch vertical. He uses it to his advantage, too. Sidney is really not going to outrun anybody, and I mean that with all due respect. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in a lot of areas."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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