Sunday, November 25, 2007

Three Stars and Some Hope

Well...who saw that one coming? I did (well, sort of). The Vikings pressured Eli Manning all day and, well, as we saw against Philip Rivers, when you pressure an error prone quarterback, good things happen. Four interceptions later, the Vikings walked out of Giants Stadium with a victory and with a renewed sense of hope, only one game out of the final Wild Card spot. I'll have more on the Vikings' playoff hopes later this afternoon, because this post is about the players that made the Vikings' fifth victory happen. First, the honorable mentions:

  • Chad Greenway picked off his second career pass and outran Plexico Burress for his first career touchdown that ended any thought of a Giants comeback.

  • Ben Leber picked up a sack near the end of the game, which he deserved, because he helped keep the pressure on Eli Manning all day. He also contributed to the play of the game, by tipping Manning's pass at the line so that it was nice and easy for Dwight Smith to pick off and return for a touchdown.

  • Tarvaris Jackson had another efficient day, completing 10/12 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 5 times for 38 yards, including a 19 yard run that converted a 3rd and 4 and an 11 yard run that picked up a first down on 2nd and 11 on a drive that ended with a Ryan Longwell field goal that pushed the Vikings' lead to 27-10. He was sacked four times, however, and fumbled once. The juries still out on Tarvaris--his accuracy has come around the past two games, but most of his completions are on short patterns. He's shown he can air it out (his 60 yard pass to Sidney Rice today being a good example), but he hasn't shown that he can do much more than be an efficient (his career high is 213 passing yards).

  • Chester Taylor didn't have as good a game against the Giants as he did last week. In fact, he wasn't all that effective, gaining less than 2.5 yards per carry on 31 carries. That being said, his eight yard touchdown run in the second quarter was a thing of beauty. He ran left, broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and then ran into two Giants defenders at the line. He ran through them, bounced outside and then dragged another two Giants into the endzone with him. He earned that touchdown.
Those were the honorable mentions--now it's time to move onto the Three Stars of the Game:

Third Star: Sidney Rice
Sidney Rice continues to prove the Vikings' personnel people right--his 23 receptions is tied for fourth amongst rookie recievers, his 312 receiving yards and his three touchdowns are tied for third and no receiver has more receptions for 40+ yards than he does. And he made a great catch on a deep sideline pattern that opened the scoring for the Vikings. Everyone that thought he was another Troy Williamson should apologize.

Second Star: Darren Sharper
The game was tied. The Vikings had been forced to punt just shy of field goal range. The Giants were facing a third down play that, if they converted, would have swung the momentum completely in their favor. Eli Manning dropped back to pass, felt the rush, stepped up, threw and Darren Sharper stepped in front of Jeremy Shockey, picked off the pass and dashed for the end zone. The Giants wouldn't score again until the third quarter. Sharper's touchdown was his tenth, and he became the fifth defender in NFL history with ten defensive touchdowns, behind only Rod Woodson (13) and Aenas Williams (12).

First Star: Dwight Smith
Hopefully, he doesn't choose to celebrate this like he celebrated last preseason. If he does though, can you blame him? He had two interceptions, one which set up Chester Taylor's eight yard touchdown run and one that he returned 93 yards for a touchdown himself. His 112 yards on interception returns were only 17 yards less than Tarvaris Jackson threw for and more total yards than any none quarterback. Not a bad game for a safety who'd been battling hamstring issues all season. Not a bad game at all.

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