Tarvaris Jackson heard the boos after a lackluster performance, but he shrugged them off. He also still got the support of his head coach. Plus, get 28 notes that help tell the tale of the preseason finale.
It wasn't the kind of finish Tarvaris Jackson
was looking for during the preseason.
When training camp began, there was uncertainty whether Brett Favre
would be coming back. In that scenario, the Vikings would be preparing for the New Orleans Saints
with Jackson as their No. 1 guy. Instead, he got the start Thursday against a far less talented Denver team and struggled badly.
Jackson threw six straight incompletions to start the game and finished completing just 2 of 8 passes for 2 yards. He led the Vikings to three drives that failed to get a first down and heard a loud chorus of boos as he left the field.
When asked if he heard the boos – it was almost impossible not to – he said he could, but wasn't overly concerned about it.
"Yeah, I heard them," Jackson said. "It is what it is. It's got to the point now where you want to play for the fans, but at the same time you play for your teammates and yourself and your family. Whatever they do, regardless of the situation, if they're going to boo, they boo. There's nothing I can do about that."
There was a time that he might have been rattled or upset by such a loud collective show of dissatisfaction from the fans, but he said he's been around the league long enough not to let those kinds of things bother him.
"Maybe in my rookie year or second or third year, I might have got mad," Jackson said. "I've got to the point now that I don't even care."
With the Vikings unlikely to keep four quarterbacks on the roster, Jackson was asked if he believes he has done enough to earn the No. 2 QB spot. He said he didn't really get the chance to show much after Favre arrived and he was pushed from starter to backup.
"It's hard to say," Jackson said. "I didn't really get a lot of reps during this preseason. I feel like during camp, I feel like I've (done enough). You want to play well in games, but I haven't had many opportunities in games."
Head coach Brad Childress indicated after the game that Jackson is the No. 2, no matter what the preseason stats say. When asked if Jackson was still Brett Favre's backup, Childress said, "As it stands right now, yes."
Earlier in his press conference, Childress said: "Sage Rosenfels
was fortunate to have some different opportunities that Tarvaris didn't have in the first three games. I've seen a lot of (Jackson) throughout training camp to kind of know where he's at."
How the QB situation plays itself out after that will be decided Saturday afternoon when the Vikings trim their roster to 53 players, but, if the coaches and decision-makers were to ask the fans at the Metrodome Thursday night for their opinion, they made it loud and clear – and it wasn't an endorsement of T-Jack as the No. 2.
The Vikings opted to bench all of their offensive starters for the final preseason game and nine of their defensive starters. The only listed starters who actually did start were defensive backs Lito Sheppard and safety Tyrell Johnson, both of whom are being pushed for their starting jobs heading into the season.
Following the game, Sage Rosenfels sounded a little resigned to the fact that he will more than likely be the odd man out among the quarterbacks, saying, "I've enjoyed it here. I feel like I've had a good preseason. But I don't have any control over the decision-making."
The Vikings saw the best and worst of QB Joe Webb Thursday. On the good side of things, he completed 5 on 9 passes for 100 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker, finishing with a passer rating of 92.1 – an achievement considering that both Jackson and Rosenfels finished with paltry passer ratings of 39.6. Webb was also the leading rusher on the team with four carries for 48 yards, including a 41-yard dash that set up a Vikings touchdown. The downside was an interception that got returned to the Vikings 6-yard line that was telegraphed. The one thing he continued to show, however, is that he has big-play ability.
Denver dominated most of the stats throughout the game. Denver amassed 437 total yards (355 passing, 82 rushing), while the Vikings managed just 245 yards (112 passing, 133 rushing). Denver ran 78 plays to the Vikings' 51 and, as a result, held the ball for 35 minutes and 50 seconds, more than 11-and-a-half minutes more than the Vikings. However, the biggest stat of the game was turnovers. Not only did Denver turn the ball over four times (three lost fumbles and an interception), but failed to convert on four of five fourth-down attempts.
Individually, former University of Minnesota star Eric Decker put in the dominant performance, catching 10 passes for 114 yards. Wide receiver Matthew Willis and running back Bruce Hall each caught five passes, with Willis leading all receivers with 122 yards.
The Vikings had to be troubled by the effectiveness with which the Broncos moved the ball. Between their three quarterbacks, they completed 31 of 45 passes for 372 yards with two TDs and one interception. Brady Quinn completed 14 of 21 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, Tim Tebow completed 12 of 16 passes for 167 yards with a TD and an interception and Kyle Orton completed five of eight passes for 56 yards.
On the Vikings side of things, the Vikings had their best rushing performance of the preseason, rushing 30 times for 133 yards – a 4.4-yard average – and scored two touchdowns. Webb led the team with 48 yards, most of them coming on his 41-yard scramble to daylight. Albert Young led all running backs with 13 carries for 42 yards, followed by Darius Reynaud with seven carries for 25 yards.
Javon Walker was the only Viking to catch more than two passes, pulling in four passes for 87 yards and a 63-yard touchdown in which cornerback Alphonso Smith lost a shoe trying to turn and run with him. In two games with the Vikings, Walker has a touchdown reception in each.
Kicker Rhys Lloyd is fighting for his roster life and may have helped his case somewhat despite a couple of big returns by the Broncos. Of his six kickoffs, two were touchbacks and two more were returned from five yards deep in the end, which isn't recommended under ordinary circumstances.
Reynaud injured his ankle on a play in which he fumbled to leave the door open for the Broncos to try to make a late run down by seven points with two minutes to play. Following the game, Reynaud said it wasn't serious and he didn't expect to miss any time.
Erin Henderson had a big game, but it may have come at a price. He injured his shoulder twice in the second half. He returned after the first injury to his left shoulder on the opening drive of the second half, but left with his shoulder hanging again in the fourth quarter. Following the game, Henderson told VU he suffered a couple of shoulder stingers and was going to be getting treatment after the game and icing the injury down overnight.
The Vikings led 17-7 at halftime despite being dominated on the stat sheet. Denver had 195 total yards in the first half (158 passing, 37 rushing), while the Vikings had just 54 yards (42 rushing, 12 passing). Denver held the ball for 18:52 of the half, while the Vikings had it for just 11:08. But four turnovers in the half was Denver's undoing.
Individually, the Vikings' quarterbacks struggled badly in the first half, with Tarvaris Jackson completing just 2 of 8 passes for 2 yards and Sage Rosenfels completing 1 of 4 passes for 10 yards. Albert Young accounted for all but 10 of the Vikings yards, catching two passes for 2 yards and having all 13 rushing attempts for 42 yards.
For Denver in the first half, Tebow completed 9 of 10 passes for 113 yards and an interception, while Kyle Orton completed five of eight passes for 56 yards. Five different players combined to rush the ball 18 times for 37 yards, led by LenDale White's 19 yards on five carries, and nine different players caught passes, led by wide receiver Matthew Willis with three catches for 68 yards.
Colt Anderson did his part to try to make the roster, causing a fumble on a screen pass that was recovered by Henderson on the Denver 13-yard line that set up a touchdown four plays later to give the Vikings a 17-7 lead.
DeAndre Wright made a huge play in the second quarter that helped turn the game in the Vikings favor. Starting from his own 6-yard line, running back Bruce Hall took a sweep to the left and was drilled by Wright and fumbled. Rookie Everson Griffen recovered the fumble.
As much as the Vikings pressured Tebow while he was in the game, Fred Evans got robbed of a sack. By all appearances, he split two linemen and bum-rushed Tebow for a sack, but a phantom offside call nullified the play.
The Broncos dominated the first-quarter stats. Denver had 71 total yards (63 passing, 8 rushing) to just 23 (21 rushing, 2 passing) for the Vikings. Denver held the ball for 8:58 of the quarter and had eight first downs as opposed to just one for the Vikings.
Individually, Jackson completed just 2 of 8 passes for 2 yards in the first quarter. Albert Young had all of the Vikings' rushing attempts, rushing six times for 21 yards. For Denver, Kyle Orton completed 5 of 8 passes for 56 yards, while Tebow completed 2 of 3 passes for 18 yards and an interception. The Broncos gained just 8 yards rushing on seven attempts and Correll Buckhalter was the only Bronco to catch more than one pass in the first quarter (two catches for 26 yards).
One of the bigger rounds of applause in the first half was for Decker, who played four years for the University of the Minnesota – the first three of those years in the Metrodome. He didn't let down the Minnesota fans and put together an impressive night in which he played in all four quarters.
Tebow's start to the game was inauspicious at best. On his first snap from center, he fumbled the ball and it was recovered on the run by Henderson, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with five minutes to play in the first quarter.
Jackson had an especially rough start, throwing incompletions on his first six passes. His only completions in the first quarter came on short screens to Albert Young for four and minus-2 yards.
After a sluggish start to the game, the Broncos' starters put together a 10-play, 58-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by LenDale White to give Denver a 7-0 lead and mark the end of the night for the Denver starters.
The Broncos have been hit hard with injuries during the preseason and may have suffered another early Thursday night. On the second series of the game, right tackle Ryan Harris had his knee bent backward in the pile on a running play. He stayed in for one more play, but was clearly unable to run on his injured leg and he took himself out of the game. He spent the next several minutes getting treatment on the sidelines.
With the starters all sitting for the Vikings and Denver playing most of its starters, the Vikings offense got off to a dismal start. On the first drive of the game, including the kickoff return, the Vikings had the ball just 55 seconds going three-and-out. On their second drive, they also went three-and-out, holding the ball for just one minute, 25 seconds. The third drive with Jackson at the wheel resulted in another three-and-out that ate up just 59 seconds off the clock
Former Vikings punter and current KFAN sideline analyst Greg Coleman sounded the ceremonial Gjallarhorn to signal the entrance of the Vikings on the field.
The paid attendance was 63,328 – the 128th straight sellout dating back to 1998.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.