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Favre’s Timing Impeccable Again

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2009 – 7:32 am

The Vikings had seen this before. Brett Favre, trailing late in the 4th quarter, rallies his troops and drives them down the field for a game-winning score to break your heart and send you home with a loss.

Except this time Favre was on the Vikings side.

“Well, it happens against you so many times playing against him, so it was great to see him on our side come out and pull it off,” DT Kevin Williams said in the locker room after the game. “He made a great play for us.”

Aside from guiding the Vikings to one of their most dramatic wins in team history, Favre also became the first Vikings QB since Daunte Culpepper in 2005 to throw for 300 yards in a game. His game-winning 32-yard pass to Greg Lewis on Sunday pushed him to 301 yards passing on the afternoon.

Favre’s timing was appropriate for one final reason on Sunday. His late-game heroics and the Vikings first 300-yard passing day since Week 3 of 2005 came the day before the 40-year anniversary of Joe Kapp’s 7-TD performance against Baltimore (9/28/1969). In that game, Kapp became the 1st Vikings QB to throw for 400 yards in a game and he set the team record for TD passes in a game (7).


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Harvin, Henderson Both Active

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2009 – 10:46 am

Inactive for the Vikings today: WR Jaymar Johnson, CB Asher Allen, S Husain Abdullah, LB Erin Henderson, OL Kory Lichtensteiger, DT Jimmy Kennedy, DE Jayme Mitchell and QB Sage Rosenfels.

Rosenfels is the emergency (3rd) QB.

Obviously both WR Percy Harvin and LB E.J. Henderson were left off the list, meaning they are active and will play today. Both were listed on the injury report this week leading up to the weekend.

It’s also interesting to note that WR Greg Lewis will be active for the 1st time today. With Lewis active, the Vikings have 5 WRs up. In the previous 2 games, they’ve had 4 active.


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Don’t Forget To Follow Us On Twitter

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2009 – 10:35 am

The vikings.com Blog is a great way to stay on top of all the latest Vikings news. Another method to stay current with your favorite football team is to follow us on Twitter – the official Vikings Twitter account is @VikingsFootball.

Remember, you aren’t required to have your own personal Twitter account to follow us.

Following the Vikings on Twitter gives you first notice on what’s happening with the team. All week you’ll receive updates as the Vikings prepare for their next opponent. There are also several promotional updates per week that you can follow.

Game day is another great time to follow us on Twitter. We’ll be tweeting on game days from the moment the players get on the bus to go to the stadium. You can find out the active/inactive players for the game on Twitter, as well as updated stats and scores during the game.


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Vikings To Honor Marshall Today

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2009 – 10:05 am

Vikings legendary DE Jim Marshall will be honored by the Vikings at today’s home opener. Marshall will serve as the team’s honorary captain and he’ll sound the Gjallarhorn just before kickoff.

Last week in Detroit, Vikings QB Brett Favre started his 271st consecutive, breaking the NFL record for consecutive starts that was set by Marshall. Following practice on Friday, Marshall and Favre met at the team’s practice facility. Marshall was also greeted by the entire Vikings defensive line and DL coach Karl Dunbar.

Marshall still holds the NFL record for consecutive games played at 282. A starter in 4 Super Bowls for the Vikings, Marshall teamed with fellow linemen Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Alan Page to from the vaunted Purple People Eaters, one of the NFL’s top defensive units in that era. Marshall led or tied for the team lead in sacks in each of the Vikings first 6 seasons. He also ranks 9th in team history with 988 tackles 2nd with 127.0 sacks.


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2 Matchups To Watch On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 26, 2009 – 10:06 am

Vikings Rush D vs. RB Frank Gore

Gore is coming off a monster game last week against Seattle. He carried the ball 16 times for 207 yards and 2 TDs, including runs of 80 and 79 yards. Gore may be just 5-9, but he weighs in at 217 pounds, giving him the strength to run between the tackles. And as the 79- and 80-yard TD runs indicate, Gore can also break a big one score from anywhere on the field. When Gore rushes for 100 yards, the 49ers have a 12-4 record.

The Vikings, meanwhile, haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 25 games, and they’re chomping at the bit to play at home after starting the season with 2 straight road games. Leslie Frazier’s unit has faced questions after the past 2 games about their run defense. Although there hasn’t been a 100-yard rusher, Frazier said on Thursday that they must clean up a few mistakes and maintain their gap integrity if they are to stop Gore.

Vikings Offense vs. Patrick Willis

Willis is turning into one of the best LBs in the entire league. He’s in just his 3rd year, but he’s been a Pro Bowler after his first 2 seasons and he is off to a solid start in 2009. Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, Willis had 14 tackles and led the 49ers to an upset win over the defending NFC champs. The challenge for the Vikings defense, beyond actually blocking Willis or completely avoiding him, will be to find him and figure out where he’s going. The 49ers play the 3-4 defense and will try to disguise their plans during pre-snap reads.

Offensively for the Vikings, they are going to want to stick to their bread and butter – the rushing attack. But Willis can be a major disrupting force. Vikings blockers must be able to release from the 1st level and get to the 2nd level to put a hat on Willis before he’s able to stop the ground game.


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Favre, Legendary Vikings DE Jim Marshall Meet

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 25, 2009 – 1:52 pm

Legendary Vikings DE and Purple People Eater Jim Marshall was at Winter Park on Friday to watch the Vikings practice and meet QB Brett Favre. Last week in Detroit, Favre started his 271st consecutive game and broke the NFL record for consecutive starts that was set by Marshall.

The Vikings will have their home opener on Sunday and Marshall will sound the Gjallarhorn as well as be an honorary Vikings team captain. He’ll join Vikings team captains at midfield for the pregame coin toss. Both Marshall and Favre will also be recognized for the consecutive starts record.

Still the record holder for consecutive games played (280), Marshall observed Favre and the Vikings from the sidelines as they practiced indoors due to the rainy weather.

“I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to break it,” Marshall said. “I have a lot of respect for the way Brett has played the game and still plays the game. He is good for football.”

Marshall compared Favre to Johnny Unitas in terms of leadership qualities and the ability to drive an offense down the field at crucial points in the game. Marshall also noted Favre’s work ethic, saying it reminded him of his own work ethic that was instilled in him by his father when he was a young boy.

“I would’ve been proud to play with Brett if he had been around back in the days when I played,” Marshall said. “He has my kind of work ethic.”

While he was watching practice, the entire Vikings defensive line, including defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, came over to him and shook his hand. It was a unique scene, watching Marshall converse with the Vikings defensive line and also watching players such as Jared Allen and Kevin and Pat Williams listen intently to every word Marshall said.

“The Vikings have the best defense in football,” Marshall later told me. “I’m just so proud of our defense, I really am. It reminds me of our playing days.”


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Vikings Seeing Plenty of the 3-4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 25, 2009 – 7:40 am

The 3-4 defense was at one time a scheme used primarily by AFC teams, meaning teams in the NFC such as the Vikings wouldn’t see very much of it on a season-to-season basis.

But in recent seasons, more and more NFC teams are employing the 3-4 as their base defense. The NFC North’s own Green Bay Packers, after the addition of Dom Capers as defensive coordinator, are one example of a team that’s switched to the 3-4.

As a result of both the scheduling formula that pits the NFC North against the AFC North this year and the growth of the 3-4 in the NFC, the Vikings will see the 3-4 defense several times in 2009. Three of the Vikings 4 preseasons opponents – Kansas City, Houston and Dallas – have a 3-4 base defense and the Purple’s Week 1 opponent – Cleveland – also uses the 3-4.

And there’s more. As Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell pointed out during his Thursday press conference, 5 of the Vikings next 6 opponents play the 3-4. San Francisco will bring the 3-4 with them to the Metrodome this weekend. Then, the Vikings will face the scheme twice against Green Bay in Weeks 4 and 8. The Vikings will also face 2 more AFC versions of the 3-4 when they play Baltimore in Week 6 and Pittsburgh in Week 7.

“Each time we play it we’ll be more comfortable with it,” Bevell said. “So we will get them all in a row and be able to see that technique. Now, some of the 3-4 schemes can be different. They can play their techniques a little bit different, but just being able to identify it, to see how they play it, each and every week, I only think we’ll get better at it.”

With just 3 down linemen and 4 defenders standing up near the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, the 3-4 defense is a dynamic scheme that can utilize multiple looks and subsets of alignments to confuse the offense. Just as teams who use the 4-3 defense have different strategies within that particular alignment, teams using the 3-4 are not all the same, either.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson noted a difference in the way Cleveland and San Francisco each run their versions of the 3-4.

“These guys (San Francisco) like to throw a lot of different looks out at you,” Peterson said. “Any 3-4 defense likes to confuse you. They get a lot of guys up standing up (and) rotating around. In Cleveland they did that a little bit, but not too much. Just watching these guys, you see them doing that a lot.”

Peterson agreed that having already seen the 3-4 defense several times in 2009 will help them against San Francisco and the other teams who run it, but he also indicated each team provides a different set of challenges.

“It will help because you got a feel for that defense, but still again, you got to make sure you focus on that opponent in the different formations that they have.”


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Injury Report Update – Henderson Participates

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 24, 2009 – 6:16 pm

After sitting out practice on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury, Vikings LB E.J. Henderson was listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday’s injury report. In more good news for the Vikings, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during his press conference on Thursday that Henderson’s injury wasn’t a “major concern” and that from everything he’s been told, Henderson is going to be alright.

In other developments with regard to the injury report, Vikings WR Percy Harvin (illness) was listed as a non-participant. Also not participating was LB Erin Henderson (calf).

Limited participants in practice today, along with E.J. Henderson, were Adrian Peterson (back) and Madieu Williams (shoulder). Jim Kleinsasser (hand) participated fully in practice.

For the 49ers, there were 3 changes. DE Justin Smith (non-injury related) was back to work and participated fully. But DT Aubrayo Franklin (non-injury related) was added. G David Baas (ankle) went from a limited participant on Wednesday to a full participant today. RB Frank Gore (ankle) and LB Marques Harris (toe) both remained limited in practice for the 2nd consecutive day.

LB Ahmad Brooks (knee) and RB Glenn Coffee (hip) were also both full participants for the 2nd consecutive day.


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Frazier Pointed About Improving vs. Run

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 24, 2009 – 5:29 pm

I know the Detroit Lions rushed for 129 yards last Sunday and averaged 3.8 yards per rush. And I know that performance came on the heels of the Vikings yielding 52 1st half rushing yards and a 4.5 yards-per-rush average to the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.

But the Vikings have gone 25 consecutive games without allowing an individual to gain 100 yards, including the first 2 games this year. And they haven’t given up a rushing TD this year, either. So when reporters asked Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier about his concern for the Vikings rushing defense, I expected a diplomatic, equivocal answer.

That’s not what I heard.

“No question,” Frazier said when asked if he was concerned about his run defense. “We have not played good run defense, in particular this past week, and we got to shore it up. That running game of San Francisco is humming. They had a great game against Seattle, in particular, Frank Gore. So we are going to have to be right in the run game this weekend without question. We will have to play our best run defense up to this point.”

Frazier is right in that the 49ers ground game has been humming so far in 2009. Through 2 games, San Francisco is averaging 138.5 rushing yards per game with 3 scores on the ground. Gore leads the attack and had a signature game last week, rushing for 207 yards and a pair of TDs on just 16 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury.

So what precisely must the Vikings do to shore up their ground defense against Gore and the 49ers?

“We have to do a better job of getting off of blocks and tackling and just being gap sound,” Frazier explained. “Just one guy getting out of his gap can create some major issues. When you have a back at the caliber of Gore instead of being a seven or eight-yard gain it can be an 80-yard explosion.

“We are going back to emphasizing the importance of every guy being where he needs to be and then everybody else rallying to the football to limit big plays in the run game. It’s become a point of emphasis and something you don’t want to ever take for granted, playing good run defense.”


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Peterson Motivated By Previous Performance

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 24, 2009 – 4:38 pm

In his last game against the San Francisco 49ers, then rookie RB Adrian Peterson had the worst game of his career. When all was said and done that day, Peterson had 14 carries for 3 yards. And that’s not a typo.

So how did the 49ers manage to hold Peterson to 0.2 yards per carry for an entire game?

“That was the worst game of my career,” Peterson said, “but when I studied the film it really wasn’t what those guys were doing – which they did do a great job on the defensive side of the ball. It was a lot of what I did to really allow those plays also. So I learned from that and I definitely want to do (well) this week.”

Considering Peterson’s immense success in the league before and since that game in San Francisco, the 49ers are in trouble this weekend if the law of averages kicks in.

But Vikings fans can take solace in the fact that Peterson won’t be relying on the law of averages.

“When we left San Francisco last time, I was trying to look ahead on the schedule and see when we played these guys again,” Peterson said. “So, like I said, I learned a lot from that game. It was the worst game of my career so it sticks in my head. I am looking forward to playing these guys this week.”


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