Not only was Sunday’s 24-point margin of victory over the Bills reminiscent of the Vikings 2009 campaign – four 24+ point wins, 1 in the playoffs – but so was the play of WR Sidney Rice.
Rice hauled in a game- and season-high 5 receptions for 105 yards and 2 TDs. The 100+ yard, multi-TD performance was his first since last year’s divisional playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys where he posted 141 yards and 3 TDs on 6 receptions.
Credit backup QB Tarvaris Jackson for being able to come into the game in place of an injured Brett Favre and guide the Vikings offense to a scoring outburst – completing 15 of 22 passes for 187 yards and 2 TDs (both to Rice) – but if not for Rice, Jackson may have wound up with 0 TDs and another INT to add to his 3 on the day. Both of Rice’s TD receptions reminded us of his remarkable ability to make a play on the ball over or around a defender.
Rice’s first TD came at the 1:52 mark in the 1st quarter with Jackson airing out the 31-yard completion to the pylon at the front-right corner of the endzone. Rice leaped forward at the 5, reached around Bills CB Leodis McKelvin and grabbed the ball while falling into the endzone with possession just before S Donte Whitner could make a play. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but was eventually overturned for the TD after Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier’s challenge. If not for Rice’s incredible play on the ball in mid-flight, Jackson may have thrown an INT to either McKelvin or Whitner.
The second TD reception by Rice was just as impressive as his first. With Jackson rolling out to his right on a 2nd and goal attempt midway through the 2nd quarter, Rice cut an out-route to the right side of the endzone and made another leaping catch. Rice had to make a diving attempt for the ball and completed the reception by landing on his back to secure possession.
“After those first two games of kind of feeling his way, his confidence was extremely high going into this ball game and it showed in his play,” Frazier mentioned of Rice after Sunday’s victory. “Our hope going forward is that we’re going to see more of the Sidney Rice we saw a season ago because his confidence is high now.”
Buffalo boasted a top-10 passing defense heading into Sunday’s game, and now Rice and the Vikings will face the challenge of the NY Giants 2nd-ranked 192.8 passing yards allowed per game defense, while attempting to win their 2nd consecutive home game and 3rd overall under Frazier.
Just as Rice has shown his return to form with his impressive performance against the Bills, he’ll be looking for a return to form from his last appearance against the Giants. In last season’s regular season finale, Rice compiled 6 receptions for 112 yards and 2 TDs in a 44-7 blowout victory at Mall of America Field.
Tags: Sidney Rice
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