NEW ORLEANS -- Some thoughts from halftime at the Superdome:
This game slowed down from a shootout pace for the same reason on both sides: Pass rush. New Orleans hit Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre on five of their first 12 plays, including a particularly brutal backside hit from defensive end Bobby McCray. The Saints drew a 15-yard penalty for that hit, but it might have been worth it. Favre was a bit less accurate in the second quarter, completing five of nine passes after completing 10 of 14 in the first quarter. A high throw to receiver Bernard Berrian on a third down pass was especially noteworthy.
On defense, meanwhile, the Vikings didn’t get a sack on quarterback Drew Brees. But they’ve misdirected a number of his passes with penetration in the backfield. Defensive linemen Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Jimmy Kennedy have all disrupted plays by getting in Brees’ face. Remember, Brees was only sacked 20 times this season. So what you’re seeing is probably the best most teams would do against him in terms of the pass rush.
Tailback Adrian Peterson hasn’t fumbled since overtime of the Vikings’ Dec. 28 game at Chicago, and I’m not sure I’m going to give him total blame for the botched exchange that cost the Vikings at least three points near the end of the half. Either Favre got the ball to him too early, or Peterson wasn’t fully ready for the handoff. But in either event, the Vikings’ only mistake of the first half was a costly one.
Peterson has looked particularly energetic but hasn’t really done much after running 19 yards for a touchdown at the end of the Vikings’ first drive. The Vikings will need him to bounce back from the fumble in the second half.
To this point, the Vikings haven’t allowed Reggie Bush to impact this game. He’s fair caught two punts and allowed another to go out of bounds. And he should have called a fair catch on his fourth attempt, but instead muffed the catch and lost the ball to the Vikings. After watching the replay, did you think Kenny Onatolu was down when he recovered the ball? Or should the Vikings have been awarded a touchdown on the play? UPDATE: Thanks to readers who pointed out you can't advance a muff.