Notebook: Housh vs. Harvin

Rookie receiver Percy Harvin hasn't only out-produced T.J. Houshmandzadeh in a more balanced offense for the season, he did it Sunday on the same field as well. Plus, the Vikings solved the Seahawks' stunts, Bill Belichick likes the Saints, Brett Favre set another record and more.

Percy Harvin didn't lead the Vikings in receptions, didn't lead them in receiving yards and didn't lead them in touchdown receptions on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. And yet the Vikings appear to be better off with the rookie speedster who was considered a risk than they would have been with a proven NFL receiver who left Minnesota's contract offer on the table and bolted for a ride in seaplane over Seattle.

Even T.J. Houshmandzadeh can't help but wonder about what might have been had he picked the Vikings over the Seahawks. The rationale for his decision was his assessment that the Vikings didn't have as strong of a quarterback situation.

When Houshmandzadeh was considering his free-agent options in March, that might have been true. The Vikings were deciding between incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, who was acquired in a trade.

Now that Brett Favre is an MVP candidate with the Vikings …

"I mean, I am human like anybody else. I think about it, you know. But there is nothing I can do about it. It is what it is," Houshmandzadeh said Sunday after Favre and the Vikings ripped through the Seahawks 35-9.

Favre completed 22 of 25 passes for 213 yards, four touchdowns and a 141.7 passer rating in less than three quarters of work before the game was in hand and Jackson entered.

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck completed 19 of 26 passes for 231 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and an 84.0 rating.

Houshmandzadeh was targeted six times, catching four passes for 36 yards and no touchdowns. Harvin was a target of five Favre passes, catching them all for 79 yards and a touchdown.

"Brett did a great job of looking the safety off so the linebacker kind of thought I went the other way," Harvin said of his touchdown catch. "It was Brett who looked that guy off and I ran that spot route and once I caught it there was nobody there."

For the season, Harvin has 36 catches for 501 yards and Houshmandzadeh has 54 for 618, but that has been Houshmandzadeh's only role. Meanwhile, Harvin has added 31 kickoff returns for 924 yards (second-best average in the league at 29.8 yards) and nine rushes for 46 yards.

Houshmandzadeh's hindsight leaves him wondering what might have been.

"I kind of had a feeling he was going to come out and play anyway, you know," Houshmandzadeh said. "When he signed I was like, ‘Man, the Vikings are going to be good because they have the best running back in the league, a great O-line. You're pretty much going to get a lot of one-on-one and he is going to put the ball where it needs to be. That is why he is probably (one of) the best three quarterbacks ever to play."

SLAMMING SEAHAWKS

Despite the Vikings scoring 35 points against the Seahawks, it didn't start off so easy for the offense. On the first series against the Seahawks, the Vikings had a false start on the team's first play and Darryl Tapp came through for a drive-ending third-down sack.

The Seahawks came out stunting on their defensive line and it took Minnesota time to adjust.

"They slammed a lot of things inside. A lot of twist games, a couple of stunts that we hadn't seen before. We spread out a little bit and actually went to the pass a little bit more," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "That is a novel idea to throw it when they are bunching up the inside. We are good enough to be able to do that. That is why it's nice to have a couple different dimensions."

Left tackle Bryan McKinnie said it just took an adjustment on the sideline and they were ready to go.

"They were doing a lot of stunting. We just went to the sideline to make a quick adjustment and go out there and take care of business," McKinnie said.

"I was pretty satisfied with the pass protection. I feel like he did a good job and he made great decisions with the time he was given."

BELICHICK'S POWER RANKINGS

The New Orleans Saints are 10-0 and the only team ahead of the Vikings in the NFC playoff race, but the Saints' biggest test could be next Monday night when they host the New England Patriot (7-3).

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was quick to this start week by offering high praise for the Saints.

"I don't think there's any better team in football than the New Orleans Saints," Belichick told the Boston Globe.

The Saints have faced just two teams that have a winning record right now – the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, who are each 6-4 and in second place in the NFC East.

The Saints are averaging 36.9 points per game and have the top-ranked offense – fifth rushing and sixth passing – but are 17th in total defense. The Patriots have already faced the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, so Belichick has something to compare the Saints to when he speaks glowingly of New Orleans.

"New Orleans I'd say is a little more balanced," Belichick said. "They're both pretty good. But New Orleans is real good on defense and they're real good in the kicking game. They have no weaknesses that I can see. They're averaging, whatever it is, 40 points a game. They look pretty good to me."

CLOSING THE GAP

Childress admitted on Monday that Sunday's Vikings performance was about as complete of a game as the Vikings have played since he arrived as head coach in 2006. But on Saturday he warned his players that there was still work to be done.

"We just talked about how fortunate we were to be 8-1 and (I asked) for a show of hands (Saturday) night: ‘Who feels like we played our best game so far?' There wasn't a guy," Childress said on Sunday. "It's so important. How good are you? How good do you want to be? Keep closing that gap. Making sure that we get better individually and we get together whether it's offense, defense or special teams. I saw that gap close (Sunday).

JUST CRAMPS

The Vikings appeared to escape another game with no serious injuries. Adrian Peterson came jogging off the field and appeared to have a limp at one point, but he returned a couple of plays later. Percy Harvin took a big hit after one reception and was tended to on the field. But he, too, returned a short while later.

The most serious-looking injury came at the end of a Sidney Rice touchdown. The big receiver jumped at the back of the end zone to haul in a touchdown pass but came limping off the field and directly to the bench after that play.

"That was just cramping. I did a lot of running around," he said. "I guess I didn't have enough fluids in my body. When I came down, my calves started cramping. It's nothing serious. It didn't bother me much."

MORE FOR 4

It turns out Favre set another record in addition to an NFL-record 22 games throwing four or more touchdowns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Favre is also the first player in the history of the NFL to complete 85 percent of his passes twice (minimum 20 attempts) in one season.

On Sunday, Favre completed a career-high 88 percent of his passes. In the second game of the season, against Detroit on Sept. 20, he completed 85.2 percent of his passes.

NOTES

  • Seahawks coach Jim Mora had big praise for the Vikings' defensive line. "They are a very good defensive front. They are big, physical and fast, with Jared Allen coming off the edge and both Pat Williams and Kevin Williams coming off inside," Mora said. "They are special. That is the most complete team we have faced by far."

  • The Saints and the Colts each extended their start-of-the-season winning streaks to 10 games, only the third time in 90 NFL seasons that two teams have started 10-0, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It first happened in 1934, when both the Bears and the Lions started that way, and then didn't happen again until 1990, when the Giants and the 49ers both did it.

  • McKinnie said the longer he is blocking on a pass play, the more he thinks a big play is forthcoming. "When I'm blocking for a long period of time, I feel like a big play is about to take place," he said after Sunday's game.

  • With the Vikings only giving up four yards rushing, the Seahawks' long run as nine yards. For the Vikings, explosive plays are runs of 12 yards or more and receptions of 16 yards or more.

    "I think that's the first time we haven't given up an explosive play all the way back to the Tampa (Bay Buccaneers) game in the running game," Childress said Monday, referring to the Vikings' Nov. 16, 2008 game.


    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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