The Vikings improved to 8-1 on the 2009 season behind a career day from Sidney Rice, who became just the fourth player in Vikings history to have more than 200 yards receiving in a game. Several Vikings talked about Rice's performance. Plus, get two dozen notes that help tell the story of the game.
It has been five years since the Vikings have had a 1,000-yard receiver. Last year, Bernard Berrian
came close and many thought that, given his explosiveness, Percy Harvin
could be the guy to end the drought. But, thanks to another eye-popping day from third-year wide receiver Sidney Rice
, it looks like he will be the man that finally gives the Vikings the 1,000-yard receiver they've lacked since the days of Cris Carter
, Randy Moss
and Nate Burleson
– the last Viking to top the millennium mark in receiving yards.
Rice caught seven passes for a whopping 201 yards Sunday, including five catches of 20 yards or more – 56, 43, 43, 31 and 20. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and gives him 44 catches for 786 yards through nine games. Rice said he has been waiting for this kind of explosion since he came into the league and said quarterback Brett Favre
is adept at making big plays.
"We all get our opportunities to make plays down the field," Rice said. "Brett is very good about finding the open man and it challenges all of us to do our best to get open. We know that if we do, chances are he's going to find us."
Favre said he's been a fan of Rice from his last season with the Packers, which was Rice's rookie season. He said even then, there was something about him that he liked. Rice clearly passed the eyeball test with Favre and, once they became teammates, he knew he had a weapon at his disposal.
"When you look at Sidney, physically speaking, he looks the part," Favre said. "There are a lot of guys in this league that do, but don't play to their size. Sidney does. I told him that from Day One. I said, ‘Hey, this will be, for me, a luxury to be able to throw a ball up and have you bail me out.' He's done that numerous times."
The Vikings have been able to generate big plays from the passing game by using the same simple formula – whoever is single-covered will get the ball. On Sunday, that was the tactic the Lions employed and they got gashed by it."
"One thing we have is the trust of our quarterback," Harvin said. "He knows that if we're one-on-one, we can get the job done. (Rice) had about five of those today and he made them pay for it."
Rice put himself in some rare air with his big day Sunday. He became just the fourth player in team history to top 200 yards in a game, joining Sammy White (210 yards in 1976 vs. Detroit), Randy Moss (204 yards vs. Chicago in 1999) and Paul Flatley (202 yards vs. the 49ers in 1965). Rice said the sideline was made aware that he was closing in on a franchise record and the coaching staff opted to give him a shot at it.
With Favre on the sidelines having been replaced by Tarvaris Jackson
, the first play with Jackson under center was a 10-yard sideline pass for Rice. Unfortunately for him, Rice dropped it.
"We got the information on the sidelines that it was close," Rice said. "We tried to get it and (the incompletion) was my fault. The coaches gave me a shot and I couldn't come down with it. But that was all right. It was a pretty good day."
GAME DAY NOTES
The Vikings dominated the team statistics, rolling up 492 yards (340 passing, 152 rushing), while allowing the Lions 297 yards (204 passing, 93 rushing). What made the disparity stand out so much was that Detroit ran 76 offensive plays, as opposed to just 63 for the Vikings.
The Vikings averaged 7.8 yards a play, double the 3.9 yards a play that the Lions averaged.
The Vikings offense had one of its worst days of the season on third down – converting on just three of 11 third-down opportunities (a scant 27 percent). The Lions made good on six of 17 chances they had on third down (35 percent).
Favre had his third 300-yard passing game of the season, throwing for 344 yards and posting a passer rating of 120.5. Favre will likely take over the league lead in passer rating after all the games are done this week. He trailed Drew Brees by one-tenth of a rating point coming into action and raised his rating from 106.0 to 107.5. With two interceptions Sunday, Brees' passer rating dropped to 104.6. Peyton Manning was still playing Sunday and entered that game with a 105.2 rating.
Adrian Peterson shattered the team record for fewest games required to get to 4,000 career rushing yards – a mark he surpassed with his first run of the second half. Peterson needed just 39 games to surpass the 4,000-yard mark – shattering the old mark of 57 games set by Chuck Foreman. Only three players in the history of the league topped 4,000 career rushing yards in a shorter time frame – Eric Dickerson (33), Jim Brown (38) and Curtis Martin (38).
Favre had his streak of 11 straight games with two or more TD passes at the Metrodome snapped. He had just one TD Sunday.
His one touchdown went to tight end Jeff Dugan, who has two touchdown receptions this year on just four catches. Dugan credited the running game for his fortune, saying, "It's a tribute to our running game. We faked the ball to Adrian and the whole defense sucked up. My job was easy. I just had to catch it when Brett threw it."
The Vikings defense was credited with 13 quarterback hurries Sunday. The Lions were credited with just two.
Jared Allen had just one tackle Sunday, but said he was fine with it, saying, "All that matters is that we won 27-10. I would take 27-10 against any team any day of the week."
Because the Lions were throwing so much, Cedric Griffin led the Vikings with nine tackles – all solo.
Harvin made another big play Sunday, taking a short pass simultaneously to getting drilled by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. He scampered another 30 yards for a 40-yard gain, but said his toughness wasn't the result of preparing for a hit. "I didn't even see him. It happened so quick," he said. "I just knew I got hit and kind of stumbled. I really didn't see the hit coming."
Ray Edwards' big day also had some down side to it. He was called for a personal foul after making contact with Matthew Stafford after being sent airborne by a low block. Replays seem to indicate that he never hit helmet to helmet to warrant such a call, but the one thing it accomplished was to get the Metrodome crowd booing loudly every time the referees made a call.
The Vikings rolled up 302 yards in the first half on just 33 plays, rushing for 109 yards and throwing for 302. The Lions also had the ball for 33 plays, but had just 125 total yards in the half.
Peterson had exactly 100 yards rushing at halftime on just 12 carries. Favre completed 11 of 16 passes for 197 yards and Rice was the clear go-to option – catching six passes for 145 yards.
For the Lions in the first half, Stafford completed 12 of 21 passes for just 87 yards. Kevin Smith had nine carries for 37 yards and Calvin Johnson was the leading receiver with four catches for 55 yards.
On the play Peterson went over 100 yards, it looked as though he would tack on 18 more yards, but he fumbled on the play play after cornerback Phillip Buchanon punched out the ball at the 18-yard line. The Lions recovered the loose ball in end zone.
The Vikings had chances to put the Lions in a deep hole, but botched more than just the A.D. fumble. Leading 10-0 in the second quarter and on the Lions 8-yard line with a fourth-and-1 play, the Vikings opted to run Dugan instead of Peterson and Dugan was stuffed for no gain to turn the ball over without getting points.
On one his first big catches of the day in the second quarter, Rice got away with a push-off on a defender. Favre had a free play after getting the Lions to jump offside and launched a bomb. Rice pushed the defender in the back, but no flags flew and he made the catch for a 43-yard gain.
Kevin Smith had 29 yards rushing in the first quarter on five carries. He would have 26 yards rushing on seven carries in the final three quarters combined.
The Vikings shot themselves in the foot on their second drive of the game after moving easily through the Lions defense inside the Detroit 20. The Vikings got tricky, as Favre handed off to Peterson who flipped the ball to Harvin on a reverse. The exchange was awful, the ball came loose and the Lions recovered.
Edwards ended up with a productive day, but had a sloppy first series. He missed two potential sacks on Detroit's first drive, both of which he had Stafford dead to rights.
Darius Reynaud was back returning punts Sunday after a month-and-a-half on the shelf. He was leading the league in punt return average at 17 yards per return before injuring his hamstring. In the second quarter, the Vikings dropped both Reynaud and Harvin together in the return formation to give teams a different filmed look to concern themselves with. Reynaud faked a reverse to Harvin on that punt, which was negated by a holding penalty.
The Vikings wasted little time in getting the game's first points on the board. They took the opening kickoff and marched through the Lions, as Favre converted first downs on each of his first three passes and the Vikings got as close as the 3-yard line. But, a false start penalty on Jim Kleinsasser backed them up and the Vikings reverted to conservative play-calling on third down, giving a draw to Peterson on a third-and-7 from the 8-yard line. He gained four yards and the Vikings had to settle for a 22-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
In honor of our fighting men and women in the Armed Forces, the National Anthem was sung and played live from Iraq. Pat Williams led the team out during the pregame introduction waving the American flag.
The paid attendance was 63,854 – the 121st straight sellout at the Metrodome since 1998.