I thought the Vikings would beat the Atlanta Falcons; I just didn’t imagine it would be by such a wide margin. But, you know, I don’t know why stomping on the Falcons would be so implausible, considering who was quarterbacking the team.
Joey Harrington did what Joey Harrington does; he made disastrous mistakes. It is, therefore, tough to judge how the Vikings are going to fare this year based on this game. The Falcons just aren’t that good. Let’s try, though.
At least we scored a touchdown.
Actually, I was pretty encouraged by a lot of things about the offense. The offensive line played fairly well and looked a lot better than they did last year. Matt Birk didn’t have a great game, what with two mis-snaps and a couple of whiffs on blocks. And Artis Hick committed a holding penalty that turned a first-and-five into a first-and-fifteen. I also thought he totally missed a block that would have sprung Adrian Peterson for a long gain on his end-around carry.
Nevertheless, the line played pretty well, even on the right side, and Ryan Cook held his own against rookie left end Jamaal Anderson. They opened holes for Peterson and Chester Taylor and provided Tarvaris Jackson with a reasonable amount of time in the pocket.
Taylor looked good for the few plays for which he was on the field; hopefully, his hip injury won’t keep him out. Adrian Peterson got to show he could carry the load and proved he could.
A 22 yard kick return, 103 yards rushing on 19 carries for a 5.4 yard average, 60 yards and a touchdown through the air, and a huge fumble recovery that prevented an Atlanta touchdown; not a bad day at the office for Adrian Peterson.
We haven’t seen this kind of speed since Michael Bennett‘s one good year with us and we haven’t seen this kind of explosion and moves since Robert Smith and we haven’t seen this combination of speed and power since Chuck Foreman. This is gonna be fun.
The receiving corps did pretty well. Troy Williamson caught both catchable balls thrown to him and one was a very tough catch with a defender all over him. Sidney Rice made a nice catch for a reception and another on the sideline for a near reception. That kid’s got great body control. Bobby Wade had a 28 yard catch during which he was wide open because Willamson cleared out the defenders. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe made two catches and even Aundrea Allison got into the act with a very tough catch on a short slant.
Tarvaris Jackson did a good job of managing the the game, made a couple of nice passes and a few that were off and one that was insanely ill-advised. He’s got great velocity on his throws.
He can also put great touch on the ball. That was demonstrated during Peterson’s 60 yard touchdown reception. That play, in fact, revealed several reasons for optimism about Jackson. He had enough patience to let the play develop and only released the ball when Lawyer Milloy was nearly on top of him. When Jackson did release the ball, he did so with great touch, looping it over the defensive end to where Peterson would be, not where he was.
By the time Peterson got to the spot, the ball had dropped into his fingers. Perhaps it was surprise at how perfectly Jackson had placed the ball that made Peterson bobble it. After he’d secured the ball, all he had to do was follow Sidney Rice’s block and outrun the defense to the end zone.
Jackson does appear to have some problems throwing the deep ball. He overthrew Williamson on a deep pass where Williamson had his man beat by a step or two. And he threw out of bounds to Sidney Rice deep as well as on a twenty or thirty yard pass on which Rice was wide open.
Jackson also made a boneheaded play when he was about to be sacked by making a no-look toss behind his back to try and throw the ball out of bounds. It went out of bounds and he got lucky. That’s the type of pass that usually gets picked off and returned for a touchdown.
The defense looks better than it did last year. We game up more rushing yards but still kept them under 100. But both the coverage and the pass rush is much better this year.
I know it was Harrington, but still, six sacks is six sacks. E.J. Henderson had two of them and was an absolute terror against the Birds. My boy Brian Robison got two, one of them from the left side, which is encouraging as hell because we rarely had pressure from that side last year. Back up DT Spencer Johnson had one and even Kenechi Udeze had a sack…on the very last play of the game. It was great watching defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and Brad Childress and his fellow players jump all over Udeze to congratulate him after the game.
Kevin Willams‘ interception return was an amazing display of athleticism. Williams was only trying to bat the ball down and no one in that situation expects to intercept the ball so the fact that he stayed with the ball and hung onto it says a lot about his reflexes and instinct.
So what the hell?!? Where did these guys come from?!? I was dreading watching the special teams units, specifically, the coverage unit.
But they did a great job. Do veterans really make that much of a difference? They looked abysmal during the preseason but great last Sunday.
Chris Kluwe consistently pinned the Falcons down behind their own twenty and the coverage units ensured they stayed there. Kluwe pinned Atlanta down at their 11 yard line, their 10, their 3, their 19, and their 12. Ryan Longwell consistently launched the ball to the one, two, or three yard line and the coverage units kept Atlanta back around their twenty. Longwell made all his extra points and added a 49 yard field goal as well.