Archive for the ‘Brett Favre’ Category

This afternoon, the Minnesota saw the difference that a great quarterback makes. This afternoon, Teddy Bridgewater became the face of the Vikings, running for a touchdown while completing 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards. This was the first time a Vikings quarterback threw for 300 yards since the year Brett Favre took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

Bridgewater’s play, though, wasn’t the only noteworthy accomplishment for the Vikings’ offense. This was the first game the Vikings quarterback threw for 300 yards, a Vikings runner ran for 100 yards and a Vikings receiver got more than 100 yards receiving in the same game since Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice turned the trick against Detroit on 11/15/09. This time, Touchdown Teddy threw for 317 yards, Jerrick McKinnon ran the ball 18 times for 135 yards and Jarius Wright caught 8 passes for 132 yards.

It’s gotta be intimidating for the Packers, the Vikings opponent this Thursday, to think that the Vikings offense cooled off in the second half because they still gained 207 yards in the second half. The Vikings gained 351 yards in the first half.

For the second straight game, the Vikings’ opponent threw tons of exotic blitzes at Bridgewater. For the second straight game, Bridgewater handled it like a veteran. It’d be wrong to highlight the fact that Bridgewater had tons of time thanks to his offensive line playing their best game since 2012. Then again, Atlanta’s defense will never be mistaken for the original Steel Curtain defense led by Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Greene, LC Greenwood and Mel Blount.

The offensive line of Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Ducasse and Loadholt dominated Atlanta’s defensive line. McKinnon gained an average of 7.5 yards per carry. Matt Asiata scored 3 rushing touchdowns, with McKinnon and Bridgewater each scoring a rushing touchdown, too. The Vikings gained 241 yards rushing on 44 carries. That’s a 5.5 yard per carry average.

I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a hellish week for Atlanta’s D-Line. They were dominated. They got manhandled. They forced 2 punts the entire day. Atlanta’s defense gave up 558 yards of total offense while letting Jarius Wright had a career day receiving and Vikings receivers seemed to be open all day.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk briefly about the Vikings defense. Statistically, it wasn’t a great day. They gave up 411 yards of total offense. They gave up 2 explosive touchdowns in the third quarter. Still, they turned up the heat when they needed to. Rookie first round pick Anthony Barr called the defensive signals today while finishing with 5 tackles and the Vikings’ only sack. After spending lots of time in Coach Zimmer’s doghouse in the preseason, third year corner Josh Robinson essentially finished the game with a great interception down the sideline. Harrison Smith finished with 5 tackles, too, and a 4th quarter interception of Matt Ryan.

Atlanta has too many weapons to be stopped. Still, the Vikings came up with the key stops when they needed them.

It’s too early to make predictions about how many games the Vikings will win this year now that the Bridgewater Era has started. It isn’t too early to say, though, that Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner are putting this team together the right way. Turner’s offense looked positively explosive today. Zimmer’s defense played hard-nosed football. They were opportunistic, too.

Finally, the Vikings have a new face of the franchise in Teddy Bridgewater. What’s fun to watch is that the game seems to play out in slow motion for him. It’s also fun to watch his arm talent, too. Teddy’s the real deal.

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Now with the Vikings all but mathematically eliminated, the Beast is back and healthy. His name is Sidney Rice and he made some catches Sunday that prove beyond all doubt that he’s healthy and that he’s a beast.

His first catch, for 46 yards down the right sideline, was a tricky catch that he made look easy. His second catch, for a 31-yard TD that was first ruled incomplete, was a catch that only he, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson could’ve made, much less kept his feet inbounds while wrestling the ball away from two well-positioned defenders.

Sunday removed all doubts 1) that he’s back healthy and 2) that, when he’s healthy, he’s a total beast. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the elite WRs, in a class by himself just barely beneath Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

Prior to yesterday’s game, there were rumors that the Vikings might not offer Rice a bigtime contract. Now, in my opinion, there’s no chance he won’t get a nice contract extension for at least 5 years.

The Vikings’ other offensive beast, Adrian Peterson, played a strong game, too. After leaving the Redskins game early, he was listed as questionable. Yesterday, he was anything but questionable, running through defenders like they weren’t there.

This season is all but over but the good news for Vikings fans is that the Vikings have more than a few pieces to build around.

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All week long, everything I heard about the Vikings-Cowboys’ matchup focused on the Cowboys’ pass rush of DeMarcus Ware & Anthony Weaver. Most of the NFL punditry forecast a Vikings loss. Tony Romo, it was said, had lifted the 600-pound gorilla off his back with the win over Philadelphia.

The Cowboys moved the ball their first 2 possession, only to miss a 48-yard FG & to lose a Romo fumble.

Meanwhile, the Vikings’ pass rush has been great, pressuring Romo into 3 fumbles, 2 which the Vikings recovered. The Vikings quarterback play has been solid to great & Sidney Rice has caught 2 TDs, the first a 47-yarder, the second from 16 yards out.

As a result, the Vikings hold a 17-3 halftime lead. The worst bad news for Dallas is that Flozell Adams is out with a calf injury. The almost as bad news, potentially, is that the Vikings get the 2nd half kickoff.

There’s still a falf to go but the Cowboys need a gamechanging play soon or their season will be over. Check back for more updates.

UPDATE: The NFC championship game matchup is set, with Brett Favre leading the Vikings into Louisian’s Superdome. The Vikings’ defense played well all game, setting the tone early, then finishing it up by holding the Cowboys to 3 points on the day.

They’ll need that type of defensive performance next Sunday in the Superdome. If they get it, the Vikings will play in Miami. If they don’t get that performance, their season will be over.

Alot might hinge on Ray Edwards’ knee injury. Edwards injured his knee late in the third quarter, attempted a brief comeback, then took himself out of the game after his knee buckled again.

To their credit, the Vikings backup defensive line stepped up and Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier made 2 nice adjustments. First, he moved Brian Robison out of the rush DT & into Edwards’ DE spot, then plugging DT Jimmy Kennedy into Robison’s spot.

Simply put, the Vikings’ d-line didn’t give Tony Romo time to set up or look downfield today. The Vikings’ linebackers played a solid, though not dominant, game. The secondary tackled well while staying close to the receivers all game.

They’ll need to play this well next week if they hope to slow down the Saints’ offense.

Two things that I thought didn’t get mentioned enough was how the Vikings’ D-Line played with a chip on their shoulder all day & how the Vikings O-Line, especially tackles Bryant McKinnie & rookie Phil Loadholt, played solidly. They didn’t open alot of holes for Adrian Peterson but they kept Spencer & Ware out of Brett Favre’s face.

As a result of those things, Romo turned the ball over 4 times, Favre threw 4 TD passes & Sidney Rice’s great season continued with 6 catches, 141 yards & 3 of Favre’s 4 TDs.

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Vikings fans can breath easier tonight following the Vikings dominant performace this afternoon in the MOA Metrodome. Brett Favre had the offense hitting on all eight cylinders. Sidney Rice terrorized the Giants’ depleted secondary. The Vikings’ defense throttled the Giants’ offense, limiting them to 181 yards of total offense.

Last week, the Vikings played poorly in the first half against Da Bears before scoring 30 points in the second half before losing in OT. With the offense clicking in the first half, OT just wasn’t a worry this week.

Favre led a balanced attack, throwing for 271 yards in the first half. Sidney Rice caught a pair of second quarter TDs, the first from 4 yards out, the second on a spectacular catch on a fade route. I’ve had the privilege to watch Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Larry Fitzgerald play. I’ve watched them make some spectacular catches that only they could make. The adjustment that Rice made on the fade TD was as spectacular a catch as you’ll ever see. If you don’t believe me, watch for yourself:

Against most wideouts, the Giants’ defender would’ve intercepted that pass. Against Sidney Rice, he’s simply another victim. Randy Moss was the best I’d ever seen on adjusting to the ball when it’s in the air but I’m thinking that Sidney might be better at it than Moss was. Tony Siragusa’s “Unbelieveable” says everything that needs to be said, though Darryl Johnston’s “Every once in a while, you’re gonna run into a player who just makes a great play” is right on the money too.

The Vikings defense wasn’t dominant. They just quietly shut the Giants’ offense down, holding Eli Manning to 141 yards passing while picking up 3 sacks, one each from Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison. Allen’s sack had dominant written all over it. First, be beat his man around the corner for the sack. Then he stripped the ball from Manning before recovering the ball and returning it a couple yards before getting tackled.

When the Cowboys shut out the Iggles, the Vikings won the second seed in the NFC and a first round bye. Next week’s wild card round will feature ‘repeat’ wild card games, with the Packers returning to Arizona to play the Cardinals and Philadelphia returning to Jerry Jones’s palace for their third meeting of the year.

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I’ve said that Brett Favre’s been playing the best football of his fabled career since joining the Vikings this August. The MVP talk started in earnest after the Vikings defeated the Packers at Lambeau. Since then, Favre’s thrown for 949 yards, completing 74 passes in 103 attempts for 8 TDs.

By the way, the Vikings have won those games handily. That figures since they’ve won most of their games handily this season.

The story of today’s game was that 5 receivers caught 5 passes or more today, with Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Chester Taylor catching 6 each and Visanthe Shiancoe catching 5 passes.

Meanwhile, the running game was productive but inconsistent. Adrian Peterson fumbled twice, losing it once. Still, Adrian ran for a score while accumulating 85 yards rushing. Harvin had 2 carries for 45 yards, including a 35 yard attempt. Chester Taylor carried the ball 4 times for 33 yards.

Defensively, the Vikings dominated, holding Chicago to a paltry 169 yards offensively while picking of 2 of Cutler’s passes and sacking him 4 times. Simply put, Jared Allen abused Orlando Pace until Pace left with a groin injuury.

Prior to today, I didn’t think Favre had a shot at winning the MVP but I’m thinking he’s got a serious shot now. Tonight, Tony Dungy said that he’d vote for Favre. During the game, Troy Aikman made it clear that Favre’s 24 TD-to-3 INT ratio and his going the entire month of November without throwing a pick stood out for him.

The other story of this game is that the Vikings defense is VERY SOLID, especially considering the fact that Antoine Winfield missed his 6th straight game. Granted, Chicago is a mess offensively, gaining only 2 yards the entire second half. Still, the linebackers played well enough, the secondary taking away what are rumored to be Chicago’s wide receivers and the defensive line setting the tone as they have all season.

Minnesota’s front four of Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and Ray Edwards is putting alot of pressure on QBs. That foursome has prevented offenses from establishing a rhythm most of the season. The biggest weakspot I’ve seen is in the secondary’s tackling. In fact, that’s the only weakness I see them having defensively. Jimmy Kennedy and Brian Robison have been productive D-Line backups. It’s nice seeing Asher Allen getting meaningful reps, too.

It’s too early to start thinking that the Vikings are Miami bound but it isn’t too early to think that this team has a chance of doing something special. Likewise, it isn’t too early to start saying what Vikings fans understand: they wouldn’t have this type of record without No. 4 orchestrating the offense.

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Brett Favre isn’t your ordinary 40-year-old football legend. What he is is the NFL MVP-in-waiting. Long before Sunday’s game against Seattle, there was little doubt that he’d dramatically changed the Vikings. After Sunday’s game, lifetime Vikings fans like myself can only shake our heads in amazement at the high level he’s playing at.

After starting slowly in the first quarter, Favre the maestro orchestrator took control of the game. Once he got things rolling, Seattle was toast and Favre was the toast of his new hometown. Going 22-for-25 for 213 yards will do that for a legend’s image. That he had more TD passes than incompletions, 4 TDs to 4 different receivers vs. 3 incompletions, says just how accurate Mr. Favre is.

Last year at this time, Favre still had the ‘zip on his fastball’ just like this year. The difference is that Favre’s significantly more accurate this year than last, thanks to offseason surgery by Dr. James Andrews.

Sunday’s performance was Favre’s personal best in terms of completion percentage. His 88% completion percentage is also a Vikings franchise record.

What’s making the Vikings a dominant team is the number of weapons they have. It also starts with Favre as triggerman & maestro. Favre’s job is made easier because he can hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor or throw it to Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe and Bernard Berrian. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that Mssrs. Rice & Harvin are future superstars. Larry Holmes could figure that out.

The last 3 seasons, the Vikings offensive line was decent but they suffered from Ryan Cook’s troubles at right tackle. After last season, they were left with a gaping hole at center when Matt Birk signed with Baltimore. John Sullivan has taken over for Birk & rookie Phil Laodholt has shown signs of being a budding star in this league.

Though they aren’t the best in the league at protecting their QB, they’ve kept Favre upright most of the time, especially when the game moves into the 4th quarter. When Favre was in the Pack, their offensive line was pretty good alot of the years but they didn’t have the weapons that this Vikings team has. As good as some of those Paker teams were, they weren’t as explosive or as balanced as this Vikings team.

That’s why longtime Vikings fans think of this team as the 1998 Vikings team that set the NFL season scoring record. With Favre at QB, they’ve become a pick your poison type of team. Shut down Adrian? Fine. He’ll kill you with Sidney & Percy. Doubling Sidney & Percy, are ya? Fine, he’ll kill you with Adrian running & Visanthe Shiancoe running free between the hashmarks.

Indianapolis and the Saints both have perfect 10-0 records. They’ve earned the top rankings in the various power ranking polls. They are elite teams, especially until they’re beaten. The Vikings are the other elite team in the NFL this year.

If Favre keeps playing like this, it’ll be fun watching in January.

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The Vikings lifted their record to 8-1 thanks to a monster game by Sidney Rice, another stellar game by Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson’s 133 yards rushing and his 2 touchdowns.

The bad news for Vikings fans is that this was a sloppy game from multiple perspectives. The Vikings took too many penalties, stopping themselves far too often. AP had 2 fumbles, though his fumble at the end of a long run was more the result of Philip Buchanon’s making a great play than on AP’s sloppiness.

The coaching staff needs to clean some things up, too. Adrian’s fumbled exchange on a reverse with Percy Harvin shouldn’t have happened because the play never should’ve gotten called. The playcalling on 4th-and-1 at the 12 was pretty stupid, too. Instead of handing the ball to AP or keeping the ball in Favre’s hand, the call was for Jeff Dugan to run right at Grady Jackson.

What’s becoming obvious, though, is that the Vikings have a ton of weapons on offense. Brett Favre went 20 for 29 for 344 yards and he wasn’t the best player on the field. That honor went to Sidney Rice, who had 7 catches for 201 yards, which figures out to being a 28.7 per catch average.

Two of Sidney’s catches were the type that you expect only guys like Andre Johnson, Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald to make. One of his acrobatic catches went for 43 yards, the other acrobatic catch went for 56 yards.

Defensively, the Vikings secondary played better this week tackling-wise. They also played a physical game, hitting or hurrying Matthew Stafford over 30 times. Jared Allen played well, Kevin Williams got his 6th sack of the season but the dominant defensive player today was Ray Edwards. Edwards harassed Stafford continuously, sacking him twice. This might’ve been his best game as a pro.

While today’s game might’ve been Edward’s best game, it undoubtedly was Sidney Rice’s best game as a pro. Rice has 2 catches of 43 yards each, with his other long pass going for 56 yards. Each of those catches were Pro Bowl-caliber catches.

The Vikings still havne’t played their best game. They’ve still got things that they need to clean up. It’s obvious that the Saints and Vikings are the only elite teams in the NFC. If the Vikings clean things up, they can definitely play with the Saints.

The Vikings now have a stranglehold on the NFC North. It’s possible this race could be wrapped up with half of December left.

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Thanks to Brett Favre’s spectacular play, No. 4’s return to legendary Lambeau Field was a triumphant return. Rookie Percy Harvin’s kickoff returns and his 51 yard catch & run TD played a big part in helping his legendary teammate win an important NFC North game against the hated Packers.

Simply put, the Vikings just had too many weapons for the Packers to defend against.

With the day’s focus clearly on Mr. Favre, the speculation was about whether he’d be too emotional. Favre dispatched with that speculation on the Vikings’ third drive, leading them down the field before letting superstar runningback Adrian Peterson vault over the line of scrimmage and into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.

That drive effectively answered the Pack’s field goal. It was set up by Mr. Harvin’s 77-yard kickoff return. By the day’s end, Harvin accounted for 261 yards in total offense, with 2 yards rushing, 84 yards receiving and 175 yards in kickoff returns.

After a Packers 3-and-out, Favre took the Vikings offense down the field again. When Favre capped this drive off with a lasershot to TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 12-yard TD reception, thoughts must’ve been running through Vikings fans’ heads over whether this would turn into a blowout.

To their credit, Green Bay didn’t quit, even after Favre hooked up with rookie Harvin on an improbable 51-yard catch in triple coverage that included Charles Woodson. After making a great catch, Harvin gathered himself, made a great move before prancing into the end zone.

Trailing 24-3 at that point, the Packers scored the next 17 points to trim the lead to 24-20. Favre again asserted himself, directing the Vikings down the field, culminating with a 2-yard TD pass to H-back Jeff Dugan.

After Green Bay scored again to make it 31-26, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy went for a 2 point conversion. The 2-point attempt failed when Vikings All Pro DT Kevin Williams deflected the ball with his bicep.

It didn’t take long for Favre to throw his 4th TD pass of the day, hitting Bernard Berrian with a 16-yard laser to complete the scoring.

The Vikings defense played outstanding football in the first half, holding Green Bay’s offense to a mere 47 yards.

The victory gives the Vikings a 3 game lead over the Packers thanks to their sweeping the season series with them. The Packers and Bears are tied with 4-3 records. Meanwhile, the Vikings have a bye before opening the second half of the season with home games against Detroit, Seattle and Da Bears. It’s understatement to say that the Vikings are in a commanding position to win this division.

That’s due in large part to Favre’s inspirational play against his former team and to Percy Harvin’s electrifying performance. (It’s telling that Adrian Peterson’s ‘quiet’ 97 yard rushing performance barely gets a mention.)

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This afternoon, the Vikings are locked in a slugfest in what promises to be the premiere matchup of the day. Just when I thought the Vikings offensive line was starting to assert itsel, Ben Roethlisberger throws a laser between the linebackers & the secondary & Mike Wallace is suddenly walking into the end zone.

This first quarter essentially was a feeling out period, with the game opening up alot in the second quarter. I’m hoping that the Favre magic to win the day (God that sounds good.) but I expect a slugfest right down to the last drive.

Is this what you expected Ed?

UPDATE: I was almost right. It came down to the next-to-the-last drive. Unfortunately, Chester Taylor didn’t catch a very catchable ball on a screen pass, the ball was intercepted by Pittsburgh, who took it in to make the final score Pittsburgh 27, Vikings 17.

Clearly, though, th Vikings answered alot of questions in losing. This is clearly a dominant football team. This is no longer a team that’s defense + AP. The Vikings have alot of weapons, chief among them Brett Favre & Sidney Rice. Sidney Rice is turning into a dominant receiver, something that Favre is planning on exploiting.

It’s only proper to give the Steelers their due. Their defense made the big plays when they needed them. Still, it’s impossible for me to say that they’re as good as last year’s Super Bowl Champions.

Most weeks, there’s one game that’s called that week’s premiere matchup. Sometimes that matchup doesn’t live up to the hype. Last week’s Giants-Saints game is a perfect example, with the Saints trouncing the Giants.

This week, though, lived up to the hype & then some.

Finally, don’t be surprised if there’s a rematch the first Sunday in February. These are two heavyweights.

The game is on the line, 12 ticks of the clock are left. Brett Favre has been hit repeatedly. You’re at the 32 yard line of the rejuvenated 49ers team. What’s left in Favre’s massive bag of tricks? Just this:

Folks, THAT’S WHY you forget about the football punditry and go get Brett Favre. More than a couple people criticized Brad Childress for going back on his statement that Favre was no longer an option after Favre announced that he was staying retired. Whatever.

Mind you, I’m still not impressed with Childress as an offensive guru. A team with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Brett Favre should be averaging 35 ppg. They shouldn’t have to pull out a win with 2 seconds left against an improving 49ers team.

Speaking of AP, the AP’s Dave Campbell wrote that Mike Singletary’s 49ers held Adrian to 85 yards on 19 carries. I don’t disagree that they put together a pretty good effort against AP. Still, I couldn’t quit thinking that there are some pretty elite runners that would consider an 85 yard day a pretty good day against this 49ers defense. In 3 games, AP has 357 yards rushing, a 119 ypg average.

Percy Harvin is quickly becoming a special talent. He returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, then added 3 catches that produced first downs. It’s clear that Favre really likes having ‘the Harvin option’. As for who’s faster between Harvin and Adrian, I’ll bet the proverbial ranch on young Mr. Harvin. And it ain’t that difficult of a decision.

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the intense fight the 49ers put up. That defense is quickly heading to elite status. That said, it’s pretty obvious that the 49ers offense needs some upgrading this offseason. Frank Gore is a legitimate threat running the ball but it’s pretty thin after that.

The Vikings defense deserves some kudos, too. It isn’t every day that a defense prevents a team from converting a single third-down play into a first down but that’s exactly what the Vikings did today. San Fransisco went 0-for-11 on third down. You won’t win alot of games doing that.

Finally, the day belongs to Brett Favre. He got hit too often. His receivers dropped too many passes. After all that, all he did was pull off another late game miracle. Not bad for someone that aged.

UPDATE: Here’s the video of Percy Harvin’s kickoff return for touchdown:

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