Monday, October 06, 2008

Three Stars: Back in the Hunt

(Thoughts on the First Half , Third Quarter and Fourth Quarter are below.)

A lot of good games from Vikings tonight. Tyrell Johnson had his first quality game, recovering a fumble, picking off the final pass and defending a few passes. I'm not really sure what he was doing with that lateral though. Ben Leber more than stepped up as a pass defender, blanketing Devery Henderson and making an acrobatic interception in the Red Zone. Gus Frerotte had decent stats, completing 53% of his 36 pass attempts for 222 yards and a touchdown, but he had a fumble and I just feel like that his completion percentage and yardage would have been lower if it hadn't been for some great catches by his wide receivers (including a one handed grab by Berrian on a ball thrown behind him and directly to a defender). And Childress felt that he'd rather call a halfback pass than trust Frerotte in the Red Zone in the Second Quarter after Frerotte had already gone three and out that drive (and had been bailed out by a penalty).

In the end, the Vikings' didn't really deserve to win this game. But you know what? The Colts didn't really deserve to win in Week 2 either. These things even out. And now the Purple are 2-3, tied for second in the division and control their own destiny in the division race (which is hugely important, what with the NFC East looking so good so far).

So, without further ado, the Three Stars:

Third Star: Ryan Longwell
As a general rule of thumb, I like to reward the guy who makes the game winning play (don't worry, Bernard Berrian is in here). And Longwell was able to do what Martin Gramatica could not--make the game winning field goal (true, his attempt was a lot shorter, but I bet he would have made the kick Gramatica missed). Add in a 33 yarder in the Second Quarter and a 53 yard field goal in the First Quarter, which is tied for the third longest of Longwell's career and you have a star worthy performance from one of the most underrated kickers in the NFL.

Second Star: Bernard Berrian
The Saints still stacked the box with 8 and 9 guys throughout the game. But Berrian made them pay, catching two under thrown deep balls on the Vikings' game tying drive, including the game tying touchdown. He also drew the pass interference penalty that got the Vikings into field goal range. Berrian's 110 receiving yards make him the first Viking with 100+ receiving yards in a game since Troy Williamson had 102 yards receiving against the Panthers in Week 2 of 2006 (that's right--the Vikings had 34 straight games without a receiver catching 100 yards). This is why the Vikings signed Berrian--to create a deep game even if the quarterback can't throw a catchable deep ball. And today he showed that he can do it.

First Star: Antoine Winfield
Let's see here--8 tackles, one sack, one fumble forced and recovered and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown (the first ever by a Viking in the regular season). Not a bad days work for Winfield. With so many stars on the defense, Winfield tends to get lost, but Winfield is second to none when it comes to big plays and it's no coincidence that he scored a touchdown in both of the Vikings' wins.

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