A Few More Notes From Monday’s Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 8, 2010 – 3:30 pm

We’ve touched on several topics since the Vikings recorded a thrilling 27-24 overtime win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, from the warrior-like performance by Percy Harvin to the quiet dominance of the Vikings defense.

But there’s so much more to talk about and we’ll touch on a few more topics in this blog entry with some help from head coach Brad Childress’ press conference. Childress met with reporters for several minutes early Monday afternoon and he ultimately answered 25 questions. Here are a few important notes we jotted down…

Kluwe Kicking Well
Childress took time to mention specifically that P Chris Kluwe is playing well through the first 8 games.

“The guy that’s playing unbelievably now is Chris Kluwe,” Childress said. “That guy is kicking the ball lights out. It doesn’t make any difference what the numbers show. It’s just a matter of how many they’re getting a chance to legitimately return and how many he’s sticking down there where they have fully 80 or 90 yards to go. You can’t put a premium on that, particularly in field position games like that.”

We’ve discussed Kluwe’s solid play on several occasions here on the Blog, but he continues to play well and impress. His gross punting average is 44.5, which is 12th in the NFL, but effective punting in the NFL is about hang time, net average and return yards allowed. I don’t have a way to measure hang time, but Kluwe ranks 3rd in net average at 43.3 yards and the entire punt coverage group ranks #1 in the NFL in allowing just 3.5 yards per return. On top of that, Kluwe has put 18 of his 36 kicks inside the 20, helping the Vikings gain an edge in the field position battle.

No-Huddle Offense Looked Good
I answered a question from a reader in today’s Monday Morning Mailbag about how effective the Vikings offense was in the no-huddle during the 4th quarter and whether the no-huddle might be something the Vikings try against Chicago this week. I don’t know if that’s something the Vikings will try, but Childress did tell reporters on Monday that the no-huddle is something the Vikings practice regularly and it’s also something Favre clearly looks comfortable executing.

Childress was also asked who calls the plays when the team goes no-huddle.

“It’s both,” Childress explained, saying that coaches will send a play to Favre when the ball goes out of bounds. “He has got a menu, as do we, that we practice for the two-minute, and sometimes we’ll trick his memory and there are times where he’s got to do it on his own.”

Infirmary Report
Childress was asked the status of several injured players, including Harvin and T Phil Loadholt. Harvin has been dealing with the injured ankle, of course, and Childress said Harvin will be sore but is also “no worse for the wear.” Childress said Loadholt is going to be fine; he left the game in the 4th quarter but came right back onto the field. S Jamarca Sanford tweaked a hamstring and Childress indicated that would be a day-to-day situation for this week.

Return of Rice
Perhaps the most asked question the last couple of weeks has been “When is Sidney Rice coming back?” The answer is still “I don’t know.” But it sound like Rice is getting closer and closer.

“He’s had some good practices out here,” Childress commented, “it’s just a matter of can you play wide-open and play in an NFL football game? It’s one thing to practice. It’s another thing when you’re going to get tackled to the ground.”

Rice has looked good in practice the last couple of weeks and he looked sharp while working out in pre-game workouts on Sunday. Time will tell when he can return; I’m cautiously optimistic it’ll be this week against the Bears, but the smart money might be next week at home against Green Bay. Stay tuned.

Big-Play Bernard
It was pleasing to see Bernard Berrian become such an important factor in the offense. He had 9 receptions for 89 yards on Sunday and came up with 3 clutch grabs in the 4th quarter and overtime. Childress mentioned on Monday that Berrian had a good practice week leading up to the Arizona game and that his chemistry with Favre looked particularly sharp.

“I saw Brett throwing it as well as he has thrown it all year long in that Thursday practice,” Childress said. “Very live arm, very accurate and then Bernard was kind of right there with him. Not that the other guys weren’t, but you could see him have a good week of practice. Both of those guys. It wasn’t surprising to see it carry over to Sunday.”

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Childress Talks Camarillo, Crowd In Reviewing Win

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 8, 2010 – 2:40 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress held his usual day-after-the-game press conference on Monday and wasted no time pointing out a couple of important factors in his team’s dramatic comeback victory – Greg Camarillo’s hustle play on a 1st-quarter INT-turned-touchback and a decided home-field advantage thanks to a frenzied Mall of America Field crowd.

“Great, great effort and resolve by our club all the way around, really battled right to the very end,” Childress said. “I think when you look at the effort, you look at those guys resolve, probably as big of a hustle play as there was on the field was Greg Camarillo…to be able to force a touchback from down, outside on the left being 45 yards away, going to make that play. You saw (Phil) Loadholt, (Bryant) McKinnie running as hard as they could run, funnel it back to him. There was determination there, offensively and defensively in being able to get the ball back.”

For those of you who didn’t see the game, the play Childress is referring to is a 1st-quarter INT by Arizona FS Kerry Rhodes in which Camarillo chased Rhodes down after a 66-yard return and punched the ball out right near the goal line to force a touchback and give the Vikings possession again.

The second factor Childress mentioned was the crowd, which was clearly displeased for most of the game as they watched the Vikings fall behind 24-10 early in the 4th quarter. Things seemed to have bottomed out when the Vikings were stuffed on the Arizona goal line and the Cardinals took possession with 6:18 to play. But rather than file for the exits, the crowd got loud and put the pressure on Arizona’s offense.

“I thought the crowd was a huge factor with energy late in the game, to make our defense be able to get off a little quicker, a little harder to hear (on the offense),” Childress said. “They had big stops there at the end. It would have been really easy to cash it in, after you are denied on a fourth and one on the goal line. Our guys weren’t going to have it.”

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Vikings Defense – Quiet Dominance

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 8, 2010 – 11:11 am

It will likely go a bit unnoticed this week, but the Vikings defense was dominant in Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals. It will go unnoticed because Arizona finished with 24 points and because the Vikings had such a sensational offensive performance in the 4th quarter and overtime.

But it won’t go unnoticed here. The bottom line is the defense allowed just 10 points (Arizona scored TDs on a kickoff return and a fumbled kickoff by the Vikings), held Arizona to 95 yards in the 2nd half and recorded 6 sacks. And if not for their effort, the offense wouldn’t have been in position to spark a dramatic comeback victory.

The peak of the Vikings defensive performance came at the game’s most crucial moments. The Vikings offense was just stymied at the goal line and Arizona took over on their own 1. The Vikings held Arizona to a quick 3-and-out, which allowed the Vikings offense to drive down the field quickly on the ensuing possession and score a TD to make the score 24-17 in favor of the visiting Cardinals.

Then the Vikings defense held Arizona to another 3-and-out on the next drive, which set up Brett Favre and Co. for the eventual game-tying drive when TE Visanthe Shiancoe came down with a dramatic TD. The Vikings defense held Arizona on a last-second possession to force overtime.

One more time the defense came up big. Another 3-and-out series for Arizona, this one in overtime. The Vikings drove down the field and Ryan Longwell kicked a game-winning 35-yard FG.

In those 4 possessions, the Vikings sacked Cardinals QB Derek Anderson 4 times and held Arizona’s offense to -8 yards in 12 plays.

“We knew it was on us and we wanted to get the ball back for number four and the boys,” LB E.J. Henderson said after the game, “and we knew that they could put up some money and we got it back to them and they scored.”

Another factor that should not go unnoticed is the raucous Mall of America Field crowd, which came alive late in the game and was at its loudest in a long time. The noise clearly impacted Arizona’s offense and provided the Vikings with an advantage.

“They really feed off that crowd,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said of his team. “That’s really an advantage that we’ve come to expect here at the Metrodome, raising the roof off that place. They feed off the positive energy. That’s huge.”

Here are a few more notes on the Vikings defensive performance:
– Arizona had 6 drives that went 3-and-out
– Vikings held Arizona to 20 yards or less on 8 of 11 drives
– Arizona had negative yardage on 2 drives
– Cardinals had multiple 1st downs on just 2 of 11 drives

Very impressive work by Leslie Frazier’s group. Here’s what a few of the key defenders had to say following the game…

“We were making him (Derek Anderson) move all game; he just made some plays. He didn’t just sit in the pocket, he was good with the ball and moving around. We just finally corralled him there at the end, and it was good to do that. That’s how we needed to be playing all year.” — DT Kevin Williams

“I think we had him (Anderson) on his heels a little bit. The crowd had a great impact for us, and the D-line had a little bit quicker step, it seemed like. I think his eyes went quickly from down the field to the rush and everyone around him. That’s what we need in those situations. That’s why it’s fun to play at home.” — LB Ben Leber

“I definitely feel like it was a turning point. It was a crucial four or five minutes and we showed the type of team that we are and the type of heart we have and the camaraderie of the team. As you can see this locker room is like a playoff win so it’s definitely big for us and hopefully it will get us rolling.” — Henderson

“All the guys calmed down. We said, ‘It’s our season. If we lose this game, that’s it, really.’ If we lost, that would have basically been it for us. So, everybody just calmed down and everybody started playing better.” — DT Pat Williams

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Clutch Performances From Clutch Players

Posted by cjsiewert on November 8, 2010 – 9:35 am

There’s 4:39 remaining in the game, the crowd is silent after a turnover-filled performance and the Vikings are on the brink of falling to 2-6 with the Arizona Cardinals holding a 14-point lead.

Time to hang it up and prepare for 2011, right?

If you were to ask either Brett Favre or Adrian Peterson at that point in time, they would refuse such an attitude and move on to the next play. And that’s exactly what they did, en route to putting together a come-from-behind OT victory on Sunday afternoon.

“I would have to say the whole focus,” Peterson told reporters as to what made the difference in the 4th quarter. “We knew that we were in a tough situation. As a group collectively, as a team, we just changed our attitude, and guys got focused.”

A change in attitude and a greater sense of focus was evident when the Vikings offense took to the field with 4:39 left in the game. Favre and Co. drove a short field in just 4 plays with Peterson capping off the 40-yard scoring drive on a 4-yard TD run, cutting the Arizona lead to 7 at the 3:38 mark.

After the Vikings defense held the Cardinals to a 3-and-out, it was time for the offense to put together another scoring drive. With the 2-minute warning elapsed, trailing by 7 and 62 yards to go to tie the game, who else would the Vikings rather have under center than their future Hall of Fame QB?

Favre orchestrated another scoring drive, but one that couldn’t have been done without the help of Peterson. On the first play following the 2-minute warning, Favre dumped off a short pass to Peterson and #28 scampered 33 yards down the field to the Arizona 29. And with :34 left on the clock, Favre found Visanthe Shiancoe in the middle of the endzone, setting up the game-tying extra point.

Overtime: The Cardinals won the toss and elected to receive, but it didn’t matter. The Vikings defense fed off the resurgent Mall of America Field crowd to the tune of another 3-and-out that included a pair of sacks.

The Vikings started the OT drive at their own 31 following the Arizona punt, but wouldn’t stay in their own territory for long. On the first offensive play in OT, Peterson scraped off the right end and dashed 30 yards down the Vikings sideline to the Arizona 39. Following a 22-yard completion to Bernard Berrian, Peterson’s number was called upon 3 times to put K Ryan Longwell in position for the game-winning FG.

It’s almost seems impossible to use the words “new career-highs” for a man that holds nearly every passing record in NFL history, but Favre ceases to amaze by throwing career-highs in yards (446) and completions (36) in the Vikings 27-24 OT victory over the Cardinals.

Peterson has consistently shown his standing as the best RB in the league and on Sunday he provided another stellar performance. The league’s leading rusher finished the game with 15 carries for 81 yards and a TD while grabbing 4 receptions for 63 yards and a TD – his 3rd consecutive game with 40+ yards receiving.

But one number stands above both Favre and Peterson’s statistics, and that’s the number 3 – the number of wins the Vikings hold to their name. And hopefully this 3rd win will be the start to a 2nd half-resurgence of the 2010 season.

But does this victory give the Vikings the sense of a brand new season?

“It’s a good way to look at it,” Favre said. “We won it, collectively. That’s the encouraging thing. We start 1-0. We go to Chicago next week. There’s a lot of football left. It was a great win.”

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Week 9 NFC North Roundup

Posted by cjsiewert on November 8, 2010 – 9:10 am

The Vikings made a step in the right direction with their 27-24 OT victory over the Arizona Cardinals, but the rest of the NFC North was in action on Sunday so let’s take a look at how each team stands after Week 9.

Bears: The Chicago Bears stepped out of their bye week with a 22-19 victory over the winless Buffalo Bills in Toronto, Canada on Sunday. The Bills led 19-14 at the 10:27 mark in the 4th quarter but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2nd INT (picked off by Tim Jennings) led to a Chicago TD midway through the quarter, ultimately providing the game-winning score.

Bears QB Jay Cutler led the Chicago offense, completing 17 of 30 passes for 188 yards and 2 TDs. Chester Taylor provided the Bears lone rushing TD on a 1-yard plunge in the 3rd quarter.

With the win, the Bears erased a 2-game skid and improved to 5-3. Lovie Smith’s squad will welcome the Vikings next Sunday at Soldier Field for an ever-so important divisional matchup.

Lions: The Vikings weren’t the only team that needed OT play to decide its fate, but the Detroit Lions ended up on the other end of that scenario with a 23-20 OT loss to the NY Jets at Ford Field.

The Lions led 20-10 early in the 4th quarter, but couldn’t put a halt to the Jets 56- and 60-yard scoring drives late in the game to force OT action. The 56-yard scoring drive ended with a 1-yard TD dive by QB Mark Sanchez while the 60-yard drive resulted in a 36-yard FG to knot the score at 20.

The Jets received the OT kickoff and got into favorable field position for a 30-yard game-winning FG, dropping the Lions to 2-6 on the season.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford completed 20 of 36 passes for 240 yards and 2 TDs before re-injuring his right shoulder and leaving with 5:19 remaining in the game.

The Lions will travel to Buffalo to take on the winless Bills next Sunday.

Packers: The NFC North leading Green Bay Packers took advantage of a struggling Dallas Cowboys team on Sunday night to the tune of a 45-7 blowout victory at Lambeau Field.

The Packers dominated in all facets of the game – QB Aaron Rodgers completed 27 of 34 passes for 289 yards and 3 TDs, WR James Jones led all receivers with 8 receptions for 123 yards and a TD and the Packers defense registered 4 sacks on Cowboys QB Jon Kitna.

Green Bay improves to 6-3 and retains the divisional lead. Following their bye week, the Packers will cross the border to take on the Vikings at Mall of America Field for a Week 11 NFC North showdown that will likely pose playoff implications.

Packers 6-3
Bears 5-3
Vikings 3-5
Lions 2-6

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