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Shiancoe Red Hot In The Red Zone

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2009 – 5:14 pm

Vikings QB Brett Favre has a history of leaning on his TEs, and he hasn’t deviated from that style since joining the Vikings. The primary beneficiary of that is Visanthe Shiancoe, who has continued his ascending Vikings career in 2009 and has become one of Favre’s most reliable targets near the endzone.

In Shiancoe’s 1st season as a Viking, he caught just 1 TD pass. But last year he began to hit his stride in the Vikings offense and posted career-high numbers with 42 receptions for 596 yards and 7 TDs. This year, with Favre under center, Shiancoe is on pace to top his reception and TD totals from 2008 and establish new career highs.

While Shiancoe’s reception and TD numbers look to be on the rise, you’ll notice that he is on pace for fewer receiving yards this year than he had in 2008. But with that downturn in production comes an even bigger upside – production in the red zone.

Red zone scoring is crucial to team success, and Shiancoe has been one of the NFL’s most productive players in the red zone this season. He leads all NFL players in red zone TDs with 6 and is tied for 4th in red zone receptions with 6.

Shiancoe scored another TD on Sunday against Green Bay, giving him 6 on the year and ranking him in a tie for 2nd in the NFL with Miles Austin and Reggie Wayne. He’s on pace to score 12 TDs this season, a total that would break the franchise record for TDs by a TE in a season (8- Joe Senser) and would also give him 23 for his career.


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The Harvin Dynamic

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2009 – 12:58 pm

A year ago while playing for the Florida Gators, WR Percy Harvin was the most electric player on the field each week. Now 8 games into his NFL career with the Vikings, not much has changed. His most recent effort against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday is just the latest example of why Harvin is the best rookie in the league and one of the most valuable players on the Vikings roster.

Much of the focus Sunday was centered on Harvin’s QB, Brett Favre, as he made his return to Lambeau Field. And as well as Favre played – 17 of 28 for 244 yards and 4 TDs – one can argue that Harvin’s performance was every bit as important to the team. The dynamic rookie accounted for 261 all-purpose yards and 1 TD on 11 touches.

Time and again throughout Sunday’s game in Green Bay, Harvin dashed through the Packers special teams unit to set up favorable field position for the offense. The Vikings average starting spot after kickoffs on Sunday was their own 49-yardline. That is incredibly good field position, especially for an offense with a QB playing as well as Favre, the game’s best RB and a receiving corps as explosive as the Vikings.

What makes Harvin’s big-play capabilities even more impressive is the timing of his big plays. He had a 77-yard kickoff return early in the game that led to the Vikings 1st TD and a 7-3 lead. He had a return out to the 37-yardline that eventually led to a receiving TD of his own – the 51-yarder where 3 Packers defenders collided and Harvin sprinted to give the Vikings a 24-3 lead. Then in the 4th quarter after Green Bay cut the Vikings lead to 24-20, Harvin answered with a 48-yard return to the Green Bay 38-yardline, which set up yet another Vikings TD and a 31-20 lead.

As anyone who has watched the Vikings this season surely realizes, Harvin’s performance on Sunday wasn’t a one-hit wonder. For the season, Harvin now has 1,268 all-purpose yards and 5 TDs on 64 touches. He is averaging 19.9 yards per touch and 30.7 yards per kickoff return (2nd in the NFL). Harvin already has 860 kickoff return yards and is on pace for 1,720, a number that would smash the team record for kickoff return yards in a season (1,345 – Buster Rhymes in 1985).

And speaking of team records, he’s already established a new one for kickoff return TDs in a season with 2. And he’s got another half-season to add to that record and continue his pursuit of several others.

A written explanation of Harvin’s impact doesn’t truly give it justice. So, click here to watch highlights of Harvin vs. Green Bay and see for yourself just how electric he is.

Once you’re done watching that, feel free to click here and vote Harvin into the Pro Bowl.


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Winning The War And the Battle

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2009 – 9:53 am

Throughout Brad Childress’ entire tenure as head coach and throughout QB Brett Favre’s time with the Vikings, a team-first mentality has superseded any thoughts of individual accomplishment. And that’s why Sunday’s 38-26 victory over the Packers was so gratifying for Childress, Favre and the rest of the team – the win improves them to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the NFC North.

But given Favre’s history with Green Bay and the hype that mounted prior to both matchups this season, it’s hard to ignore the battle that existed within the Vikings-Packers war. And it’s safe to say that Vikings fans are equally excited that Favre played well on an individual level in his 2 games against the Packers as they are that the Vikings won both games.

Favre never acknowledged a desire to prove himself to anyone by playing well against his former team; he was focused on the war. But those of us observing certainly considered the subplot of Favre playing his former team; we kept 1 eye on the war and another on the battle.

And Favre won the battle, too. In 2 games against his former team, Favre is 41 of 59 (69.4%) for 515 yards with 7 TDs, 0 INTs and 0 sacks. That gives Favre a passer rating against the Packers of 135.9.

And, more importantly, it’s led to a 2-0 record.


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