After Minnesota’s 30-10 victory over Cincinnati, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
Vikings coach Brad Childress is rapidly becoming known for his, uh, interesting choice of pregame messages. Saturday night, he showed the team video of a NASCAR team working together in pit row. I’m guessing it took a few minutes for the connection to be made. “I don’t want to say it was strange,” quarterback Brett Favre said. “But guys are like, when it’s starting off NASCAR, ‘What does this have to do with this game tomorrow?’ But it was about teamwork and talking about pit row and that’s true. … You never know with Brad. You never know.”
There were some early occasions when I thought Favre missed receiver Percy Harvin, who has been his top third-down target this season. And perhaps Harvin’s migraine-related absence had something to do with Favre’s 173-yard day, his lowest yardage output since Week 2. But at the end of the day, the Vikings converted 57 percent of their third-down attempts against the NFL’s seventh-best third-down defense based on percentage. Meanwhile, Darius Reynaud proved a pretty decent fill-in on kickoff returns. The scariest part of the Harvin situation is that migraines are unpredictable. There is no way of knowing when they will come or how long they will last.
The Vikings navigated the loss of middle linebacker E.J. Henderson in a couple of interesting ways. First, they split Henderson’s duties among two players. Rookie Jasper Brinkley played the position in base sets, but outside linebacker Ben Leber took over in the nickel. Leber also called the defensive signals throughout the game, but you could see Brinkley playing a role in pre-snap shifts on the defensive line. While Brinkley has plenty of experience calling signals, the Vikings were smart to put the bulk of that responsibility on Leber’s veteran shoulders. Finally, the return of cornerback Antoine Winfield gave the Vikings another sure tackler on the field. The bottom line? Cincinnati managed 210 yards, 13 first downs and 10 points.
And here is one question I’m still asking:
One of Sunday’s storylines was that tailback Adrian Peterson “bounced back” from his 19-yard performance last week against Arizona. I’ll just leave this question open-ended: Did you consider it a “bounce-back?” Peterson finished with 97 yards on 26 carries, including runs of 15 and 11 yards, for a 3.7-yard per carry average. He scored two goal-to-go touchdowns, but might have made his biggest impact in the passing game (three receptions, 40 yards). I realize he was only 3 yards away from the 100-yard barrier, but the bottom line is that Peterson has crossed the century mark once in the Vikings’ past seven games. He’s one game short of going a career-high five games without a 100-yard effort.