That makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?, an accurate quarterback who makes sound, quick decisions?
It was amazing to watch the offense open up so drastically with Gus Frerotte at the helm. Suddenly the cameras are showing 30, 40 yards worth of view during plays. I’d almost forgotten what it looked like.
Frerotte’s ability to get the ball to his receivers 20, 30, 40 yards down the field made all the difference in the world. This is what he offense is supposed to look like.
Frerotte didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers early on, what with Visanthe Shiancoe‘s obligatory drop of what would have been a long first down and Bernard Berrian‘s failure to catch a catchable ball which resulted in an interception off the subsequent tip.
But by starting the game with the offense coming out firing, the Vikings demonstrated their ability to stretch the field, signaling to the Panthers that they would stack the box at their own peril.
While the Vikings’ first four drives ended in punts or a pick, the offense showed they had no fear of passes longer than ten yards. And that’s the most important thing the offense lacked under Jackson‘s leadership, the ability to keep defenses honest.
Though the offense didn’t score a touchdown in the second quarter, they had a drive that ate up more than nine minutes that ended in a Longwell field goal.
Antoine Winfield‘s sack, strip, fumble recovery and return for a touchdown gave the Vikings momentum and excitement heading into the locker room for the half.
On the Vikings’ first possession of the second half, under pressure from a blitz, Frerotte hit Berrian for a 48 yard reception to which Berrian did a very nice job adjusting for the catch. The drive ended with a 34 yard strike to one Visanthe Shiancoe down the seam who not only caught it, but shook off a tackle, made a cut, and raced to the end zone. Without dropping the ball.
Now defenses can’t solely focus on the running game.
And that’s what the Vikes did on their following drive, eating up eleven minutes and thirty-four seconds and capping off the drive with a field goal.
The defense, of course, was amazing, due in large part to the addition of Jared Allen. In addition to Winfield’s touchdown, the team sacked Delhomme five times and was in his face all day. They jammed Steve (Punk Ass) Smith at the line, keeping him to 70 yards receiving.
Ben Leber recovered a fumble and E.J. Henderson was an absolute rock star, racking up 11 tackles, three for losses, one of which was a highlight reel-worthy play in which he leaped across blockers to corral the running back behind the line.
The defense is so good that I’ve been saying all we needed was a quarterback that doesn’t suck. I’m not saying Frerotte isn’t good–he is–I’m just saying all we’ve needed was an average quarterback to win games. Luckily, we now have a good one.