Monday, October 23, 2006

Hitting on All Cylinders

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? I’ll have an in depth analysis of the Vikings’ playoff chances later this week (they’re looking good!), but today, I’m going to focus on the Vikings’ first complete game. They played well on offense, defense and special teams (not counting Longwell’s missed FG) for the first time this year, and it was gooooood.

Everything was coming up Vikings on Sunday. The defense continued to dominate, holding the Seahawks to 13 points, creating turnovers and scoring a touchdown for the third time this year. And apparently, the offense just needed a week off, as they actually scored some points, both in the red zone and on two home run plays (Taylor and Robinson’s TDs). Not to mention Mewelde Moore having a solid game returning punts AND throwing passes (bringing the number of quarterbacks on the Vikings that are better then Brad Johnson to three) and Bethel Johnson looks like a solid pickup, averaging 31 yards a return, including a 49 yarder to open the game.

"Take it from me kids--you don't need to drink to be good at returning kicks."

All that being said, I feel it necessary to point out a major reason for the Vikings’ win—Mack Strong pushing E.J. Henderson into Matt Hasselbeck. Once Hasselbeck went out, well, the Vikings’ immediately became the favorites. I’m not saying that it was guaranteed, but at that point, the Vikings’ should come away with the win. It wasn't that surprising that they were able to, considering they’ve yet to beat a team not missing a key player (Clinton Portis, Steve Smith, and Roy Williams / the Lions entire o-line come to mind). It’s something that we all need to remember, before we get too excited and start rewriting the words to pop songs to indicate that the Vikings are going to the Super Bowl.

Don't get me wrong--even if Hasselbeck had avoided injury, the Vikings would still have had a good shot at coming away with a win. BJ was actually taking shots down field, Chester Taylor is starting to get into a groove and Marcus Robinson is in the process of solidifying his position as the Vikings’ number one receiver. That offense actually looked like a competent one (except, of course, when Marcus Johnson tried to ruin another trip to the red zone with a holding penalty). And what can I say about Mewelde’s pass? It was a great throw under pressure, and an even better catch by Jermaine Wiggins. Plays like that can win you Super Bowls (see Steelers, Pittsburgh) and the Vikings finally have a coach who’s willing to take risks AND can design trick plays that don’t come out of illegal formations.

The defense, as usual, didn’t need trick plays to be successful. They still have not allowed more than 19 points in a game and they did what they were supposed to by shutting down an offense missing its two best players. Make no mistake; the Seahawks were still dangerous without Hasselbeck. Their receiving core is skilled, they have one of the best left tackles in the game and Seneca Wallace is not a bad backup quarterback, and he could eventually become a good starter with the proper support. He isn’t yet, however, and the Vikings did what a good defense should do against a backup QB—hit him hard and often.

"This one's for you Big Pat"

The entire front seven, it seemed got in on the action. Ben Leber continued his strong push for the title of “Best Free Agent Pickup” when he went around Walter Jones, nailed Wallace and forced a fumble in the end zone that Kevin Williams recovered. E.J. Henderson was in the backfield all day, and Napoleon Harris joined him for a key sack before halftime. You could see that Mike Tomlin’s game plan included applying pressure to the Seahawk’s weak spot—the interior of the line. Vikings were coming through the middle the entire game.

I could go on all day about this game, and I would love to. My employer, however, would likely have a different opinion, so I’m going to wrap this up without discussing the Vikings big stop on 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter , Chester Taylor’s run, Cedric Griffin's impressive INT or the fact that the Vikings’ clearly came out ahead in the poison pill “trade”. That was a huge win on Sunday and one that should springboard the Vikings back into the playoffs.

2 comments:

Kurmudge said...

I actually formerly liked the Seahawks and Hasselbeck until the juvenile hissy-fits began to virally infect the entire organization with narcissistic self-pity. It started to show up in Holmgren's post Super Bowl officiating whine, then with the Hutchinson situation and the childish revenge of grabbing Burleson to set him on the bench.

Now, with Hasselbeck saying that Henderson deliberately injured him-

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/football/nfl/10/23/hasselback.ap/index.html

- I've had it. Someone post the injury on You Tube. Henderson was pushed; he wasn't even looking at Hasselbeck as he got back up, he was looking downfield at the result of the play.

I hope Seattle never wins another game.

cheswick said...

Awesome win for the Vikes! Too bad about Hasslebeck but there's no way that was intentional. That's just bs to even suggest it. Sore losers!

Now, bring on those Patriots!