As we’ve recently mentioned here on the vikings.com Blog, the Vikings 27-24 OT victory over the Cardinals on Sunday came to fruition by way of several dynamics. Mike briefly touched on one particular contributing factor following head coach Brad Childress’ press conference on Monday, and we’ll delve into the subject further.
Since the departure of Randy Moss early last week, the Vikings WR unit was put under the microscope with questions about their depth and individual capabilities to make an impact. After Sunday’s victory, it’s clear that Bernard Berrian has cleared up many of those concerns.
Berrian recorded a season-high 9 receptions for 89 yards against the Cardinals – his most since the 2009 NFC Championship game, where he hauled in 9 passes for 102 yards. In his first 6 games this season, Berrian averaged less than 2 receptions per game (1.5) and 14.5 receiving yards per game.
More impressive than the numbers Berrian posted in the OT victory are the situations in which he recorded them. The 7-year veteran was a contributing force throughout the first 3 quarters with 3 of his 4 receptions resulting in 1st downs, but it was late in the 4th-quarter and in OT that Berrian came down with pivotal catches.
With the Vikings down 24-10 and 4:32 remaining in the game, Berrian grabbed a short pass down the middle for an 11-yard gain, setting up a 4-yard TD run by RB Adrian Peterson 2 plays later. His next reception was the initial play during the Vikings game-tying drive. Berrian’s catch resulted in a 15-yard gain heading into the 2-minute warning.
And perhaps Berrian’s biggest catch of the afternoon came during the game-winning OT drive. With the Vikings facing 1st and 20 following a holding penalty, Brett Favre found Berrian streaking across the middle of the field on a slant route for a 22-yard gain down to the Arizona 27. Peterson’s number was call upon 3 times for 9 more yards, setting up K Ryan Longwell’s game-winning 35-yard FG.
Berrian’s effectiveness was shown through his quick slant routes that allowed the Vikings offense to move the chains – 6 of his 9 receptions resulted in 1st downs.
“He certainly has the capabilities to catch the football coming inside,” Childress said on Monday. “There were a couple of slip screens. One he had a loss-yardage play, one he makes a play on third down. He is a good slant runner. He is a good in-break runner. He can catch the football down the field. I think he had a back shoulder opportunity. It’s nice to be able to get him those quick-hitters in a little bit of air because those slants typically end up 15-18 yards down the field, if you can connect on them.”
Tags: Bernard Berrian
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 76 Comments »