There’s been a lot to talk about with regard to offense and defense in light of the Vikings 36-10 pounding of the Chicago Bears on Sunday. But the special teams play from Sunday should not go ignored.
In fact, a handful of special teams plays and strategies had a distinct impact in Sunday’s game. Let’s examine a few of them…
– Vikings rookie WR Percy Harvin is the NFL’s most dangerous return man through 11 games with a 29.8-yard return average and 2 TDs, but the Bears effectively took him out of the return game on Sunday because K Robbie Gould blasted 2 touchbacks and pooched a third kickoff to TE Jeff Dugan.
– While the Vikings weren’t able to make an impact with their kick return game, the Bears kick return output was perhaps the only positive thing they can take away from Sunday’s performance. A rookie WR of their own, Johnny Knox, gashed the Vikings kick coverage unit for 77 yards to open the 3rd quarter. In addition to that, regular return man Danieal Manning averaged 24.6 yards per return on 5 attempts.
– But it wasn’t all negative for the Vikings on their kickoff coverage effort. Following a Brett Favre-to-Chester Taylor 10-yard TD that made the score 14-7 Vikings, Manning was tackled by special teams standout Eric Frampton and Frampton was able to strip the ball from the returner before taking him to the ground. Special teams ace Heath Farwell was there to recover the fumble and the Vikings kicked a 52-yard FG three plays later to increase their lead to 17-7.
– With that 52-yarder, Longwell became the Vikings career-leader in 50-yard FGs on Sunday, surpassing Fuad Reveiz with his 9th such conversion. Perhaps even more remarkable, as Longwell pointed out to me this morning, is that he’s made 8 in a row from 50+ yards. His last miss from 50+ was against the San Diego Chargers in 2007 when his 57-yard attempt fell short and was then returned by CB Antonio Cromartie 109 yards for a TD.
– Speaking of returning missed FGs, one of the best at doing that is Devin Hester. But the Vikings didn’t allow Hester to return a missed FG or even a punt for many yards. Hester was 2 punt returns on the afternoon but managed just 4 return yards. Credit for that accomplishment should be split between P Chris Kluwe and his coverage unit.
– Speaking of Kluwe, I wonder what happened on the Vikings last PAT of the game. The snap appeared to be good and it looked as if Kluwe had a hard time getting the hold down. Longwell didn’t even attempt to kick it and the play went into the books as a failed 2-point run attempt. But Longwell and Kluwe did team to convert 3 other PATs and Longwell was true from 37 and 20 yards in addition to his 52-yarder.
Tags: Chris Kluwe, Percy Harvin, Ryan Longwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 11 Comments »