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Vikings Impress During Preseason Finale, Shutout Texans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 1, 2011 – 9:41 pm

Most Vikings first-teamers didn’t play in the team’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday night at Mall of America Field, but those Vikings that did play made sure to entertain everyone watching. QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, along with a host of other young Vikings, impressed in the final game of the preseason and put together a 28-0 victory.

With so many starters out of action, the main storyline heading into Thursday night’s game was the fact that Ponder was making his first start. The 1st-round pick did not disappoint, going 10 of 17 for 83 yards with 1 TD and no INTs; Ponder also had 61 yards rushing on 8 carries, frequently utilizing his athleticism to avoid pressure and escape the pocket. Ponder’s TD toss went to fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph.

Webb also looked solid and led scoring drives of his own, guiding the Vikings on an 11-play, 59-yard drive that culminated in a Caleb King rushing score early in the 4th quarter and then leading another drive late in the 4th quarter that also ended with a King rushing score. For the game, Webb was 5 of 6 for 43 yards with no TDs or INTs; he also had 1 carry for 12 yards.

Another positive development was the play from the team’s RBs. Minneapolis native and Iowa State University product Alexander Robinson scored on a 4-yard run in the 3rd quarter and then King, an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Georgia, scored twice in the 4th quarter. Tristan Davis got the start on Thursday night and rumbled for 25 yards on 8 carries. In total, the 3 RBs rushed for 135 yards on 34 carries. Robinson averaged 6.9 yards per carry and King was the leading rusher among the three with 62 yards.

The Vikings offense saw a lot of opportunities for success because the defense and special teams played so well. The Vikings defense surrendered only 14 first downs on the night and held Houston to a 33% third-down conversion rate. The Vikings kick coverage units were solid once again, as they have been all preseason, and allowed just 9.0 yards per punt return. P Chris Kluwe put 3 punts inside the 10, including one at the Houston 1-yardline in the 1st half.

Rookie CB Brandon Burton, who has flashed a bit over the past two games, notched an INT in the 2nd half and continues to make a strong case for himself. DE Adrian Awasom, who has lined up with the second-team defense all of camp and the preseason, registered a pair of sacks on the night and newly acquired DE Stylez White also had a sack. Reserve S Ryan Hill tallied a pair of special teams tackles and also led the team in defensive tackles with 5.

The victory over Houston concludes the Vikings preseason and now they’ll prepare for their regular season opener against the San Diego Chargers on September 11.


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50 Responses to “Vikings Impress During Preseason Finale, Shutout Texans”

  1. By tru-speed on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Great Game! Go Vikings! Keep Brandon Burton, Adrian Awasom, Stylez White,

  2. By Mike R. on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    Of course, I did not see it here in Pennsy. WoW, what happened? The Texans looked good this preseason (even the backups). We must have backups that really want to make the team. Good job Vikes!

  3. By viking fan 63 on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    rookie center brandon fusco looked great out there tonight no one is really showing him any kind of attention the kid can flat out play he will make any other team if they try to sign him to the practice squad

  4. By Mike R. on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    @ viking fan 63

    cool…he is from Pennsylvania small school known as “The Rock”. Slippery Rock U. A local hopeful…..

  5. By martin on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    while it is good to see the vikings win the reality is that this game has very little meaning just like the first pre-season game….

  6. By NovaScotiaVike on Sep 1, 2011 | Reply

    I would much rather go into the regular season coming off a shutout victory than a shutout loss.

  7. By Billy on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Nice win a great chance for the players to show why they should make the team. We are only deep a few position and I believe when the teams cut down to 53 players the Viks will get the quality backups they need and maybe even a stater at a position. The new offence game plan is going to be exciting to watch.

  8. By PAUL M. on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    PONDER FITS THE VIKINGS O LIKE A HAND IN GLOVE. THE KID IS OBVIOUSLY OOZING BRAIN CELLS . . . HE’S RUNNING THE OFFENSE BETTER THAN SOME OTHER NFL VETERAN STARTERS OUT THERE. I KNOW — IT’S ONLY PRE-SEASON — BUT THIS KID’S GOING TO BE A GREAT ONE!

    LOVE THE 3- TE FORMATION — MIGHT AS WELL CALL THE PLAY “MOTHER-LOAD LEFT” & HAND OFF TO THE ANGEL OF DEATH.

    VERY OPTIMISTIC WITH THIS COACHING STAFF SO FAR.

  9. By vikings fan 1955 on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I see good things happening this yr and this coaching staff has us poised to make a run. Don’t care what anyone saysm the 2nd and 3rd stringers looked good and we have some solid backups at a lot of positions. I don’t see the conservitive play calling of old these guys want to play for this coach and he has them ready.

  10. By vikings fan 1955 on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    let me rephrase that the coaches have them ready good job all in such a short period.

  11. By OLD SCHOOL on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I think Ponder will be better than the “Experts” thought!

    GOOD THING HE CAN RUN WELL, BECAUSE I SAW THE O-LINE JUST CAVE AROUND HIM ALL NIGHT!

    In the off season we need to start building that O-Line to fit Ponder!

  12. By OLD SCHOOL on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Oh yeah…….we need to sign

    A.P.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Chris Johnson money didn’t help!

  13. By vikings4seven on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Great way to finish the preseason. Should be a great morale boost for the young guys who make the team. Ponder was forced to run every single down tonight. Not good. He could have suffered an injury very easily in a meaningless game. The O-Line is going to get someone murdered this season. AP needs to be resigned but first lets go get some O-line talent to block for him or he may not want to resign here.

  14. By Frederick Jones on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    @Fellow bloggers,

    Perhaps what we have is a run-blocking line. The Vikings had about 200 yards rushing in this game, including 135 from the running backs.

    I credit Mike Mayock for pointing out some of the blocks, including
    a great play by Fusco near the end of the game.

    Somebody was opening up holes for the 135 yards of rushing. Whenever there is a GREAT RUN it is almost always preceded by a GREAT BLOCK.

  15. By Frederick Jones on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    A.D. indicated that he is very happy with the offensive line, and the holes they have opened for him this pre-season.

  16. By Vikings4Life on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Not happy with ponder, his throws were mostly off target like mayock said if it was starters that were playing ponder would have probably got sacked most of the time or loss yardage possibly even getting injured. The texans didn’t even really play that well, looks to me texans didn’t take this game seriously just wanted to come out injury free. It was a good win for the vikes but webb still plays solid he should be considered the backup. Ponder all legs no arms, on the defensive side the vikings have got to cut asher and keep sherals, that is a no brainer he’s been around the ball and making very few mental mistakes has very good timing with disrupting receivers routes. Try to get awasom and sneak white on the practice squad. Tristan davis won’t make the team, kings running style reminds of terry allen that use to play for the vikings nothing flashy, slow to hit the holes no edge to his game not a good change of pace back. I would keep alexander robinson out of those two.

  17. By Vikings4Life on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Very impressed with preifers special teams squad they are not giving up long returns, this unit will get high praises this year.

  18. By Joe Kosters on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t dare get excited. After 50 years of dealing with disappointment beginning with Kansas City’s Hank Stram’s team and then Farve’s flounderings in New Orleans, I am a doubting Thomas.

  19. By Rocksalt on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Well, the MN republican legislators have decided to call for a referendum on the stadium plan….they want to put it to a vote on the county-wide tax increase as funding for the deal…….
    Don’t be surprised to see the Vikes in LA in the next few years……SAD!

  20. By Rye on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Vikings4Life, if you don’t think ponder played well for a rookie qb, you are a lossed cause.

    I cannot remember the last time the Vikings had a young QB with this much potential. I can tell you with no doubt he is already better than TJACK and is playing just as well as Webb and he’s only been in the NFL for a month!

    Vikings fans should be pumped about this kid!

  21. By herold on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Every body seems to under cut webb,Why is that? I live in indiana we have to watch the colts play that sucks. Go Vikings

  22. By Mike B on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t see why you think that the referendum is a stadium killer. The people are going to pay for a large chunk of this deal and should have a say. The voters that actually vote are much smarter than most think and they know what’s at stake if they vote against the stadium. The issue is do the Wilfs want to pay for the advertising to convince the voters that this is the right thing to do. If the Wilfs want a deal done, they better go all in especially with the economy in flux. The other options are to sell the team to one of the LA groups or sign a short term lease with metrodome until they can get it though.

  23. By Woodboat on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    One reason everyone undercuts Webb is that the COACHING STAFF does. Have you heard Frazier even once talk about Webb as the future for this franchise? His name never came up during the offseason as someone they were depending upon to mature into a starting QB. Heck, his name never even came up…period.

    I heard an analyst talking about QBs on ESPN radio the other day, and they were talking about the IQ of QBs. They were talking about the amount of the playbook that could be opened to this guy or that guy. It sounds like Ponder has the smarts to handle anything the OC can devise, and I can’t say enough about how important that is for a QB IMO. I am firmly on the Ponder bandwagon.

  24. By tru-speed on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    @Rocksalt Whats sad is your comment’s about the vikings going to LA!!!! ha Not a chance! The vike’s are here to stay!!!!

  25. By Vikings4Life on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    He played well for you because you are used to low expectations, if you thought that was great I don’t know about how high your bar is in real life.

  26. By Vikings4Life on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I am not saying ponder won’t be a great qb later on, I know it is only couple pre season games but judging from the performance he is off target on his throws he does run and get yardage but how many times can you do that in a regular season game before you get a concussion and break a leg.

  27. By Clint on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    It is good to see A Rob (Alexander Robinson) do a great job last night. He looked the best of all the backs out there. He was one the top rushers in the Big 12 last year with the worst line in the Big 12. You give him some blocks this kid could really make it happen.

  28. By vikeforever on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I was only able to see the highlights but what I saw of Ponder he looked in control.I not concerned that he ran so much. he was behind 2nd string line. He made the best of his abilities which I was really excited to see. I think we have 2 very capable back-ups where some teams are still figuring out which is the best primary, a nice luxury to have

  29. By PurplePower on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I am glad that some attention has been paid to BRANDON FUSCO. He has played GREAT in every game and in my opinion will and can compete favorably to Sullivan and Cook if given a chance. I hope they keep him on the roster as he could be a starter this year. Center was one of our weakest positions last year as Sullivan was on his back more than he was standing last year when playing.

    Easy to point out the flashy players but if you look at the replays form the scoring plays FUSCO was the difference (running up the middle)

  30. By Billy on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I think it is great we have 2 young quarterbacks with great potential. How many teams are in the position with a very good veteran for a year to two more? You need 2 quarterbacks now. I believe about a 1/3 of the starting quarterbacks will not play all 16 games. The way I see it in a few years the Vikes will be starting Ponder with Webb coming in for a wildcat version or flanked out to get a lateral with the option of running or passing the ball. Or having him in the backfield with Peterson might be very interesting to see too. This team as the potential to do well and be one of the most exciting teams on O to watch.

  31. By garrett1212 on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Go Fusco. I’m 15 minutes from the “Rock” and have been diehard Vikes van since age of 5. Rooting for hometown kid. Mike R., we need to lobby for Vikes being aired in PA. Have to like Ponder’s potential. Granted he played against scrubs, but definitely an athlete. Give him some time to watch and learn. Feeling more optimistic about that draft pick. I’m expecting good things this year. I think it will be good that not a lot of people are talking about the Vikes or have high expectations. Gives them a chance to just go out and play. Loving the coaching staff and play calling. The team seems to be very pleased with the coaches and wanting to play for them. Like that Musgrave is taking players opinions into consideration. We got away from the dictatorship that was going on past few years.

  32. By xvike on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Ponder was anything but impressive last night. I would say it was a mediocre performance. Anyone who thinks otherwise, i don’t know what you were watching. First of all, ponder struggled throwing the ball from within the pocket. Yes he did a great job eluding defenders and scrambling, but that’s not what i want to see out of him. I would rather have joe webb run with the ball as he is faster, more elusive and more creative when running with the ball. Ponder missed a bunch of easy throws or throws that an NFL qb should be able to make. All his good throws were made outside the pocket on the run. I can only recall one good throw he made from the pocket to i believe jaymar johnson. Other than that, not much else. Not to mention he was playing against 2nd, 3rd and even 4th stringers. imagine if he had been playing against the starters. I’m glad that Ponder is not starting this season. After this game, i really am questioning his arm strength now. I thought his arm was good enough but he made some really weak throws last night……

  33. By xvike on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    And one more thing. I would take any of those RB’s last night over Toby. They should really consider moving Toby to FB. He’s too slow to be a running back in this league. He’s not elusive or fast, has really no jukes, slow hitting holes, can’t really read blocks. He just runs straight…. You would think that with his size he’d more than likely get the first down on 3rd and short situations but he gets stuffed more often than not. I really think that he would make a great FB. Just imagine if he and AP could be on the field at the same time.

  34. By Norman777Viking on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I’d like to see Donovan win a Super Bowl, however, I believe his ultimate contribution to the Team will be his mentorship of Joe and Chris (ala Joe Kapp) who are the future (near). Looks like the running game will be awesome, which should give the passing game time to catch up. In the end everything depends on the play of our lineman both on defense (young) and offense. If they play hard (take no prisoner attitude) game in and game out, there will be no stopping this team. I pray for wisdom for the coaches who will have to make the tough decisions and that the team plays as a band of brothers. All for One and One for All. Allez-y les Vikings.

  35. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    What’s with all the LA talk, it’s not going to happen, the Vikings will stay in Minnesota, even if it’s in the H.H.H. Merodome !!!! What would they be called the LA Smogsters or Sesspoolers !!! I’m sure. They are in Minnesota to stay !!!!

  36. By Digger on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Some of you people amaze me! Ponder was playing with, not just against, backups. He will be our future. He is already passing Webb. Webb will be a thret in other areas. Ponder has a swager, smarts and instinct. Yes Webb may be a better runner, but Ponder is a better QB! And whoever said Toby was no good, must not know anything about his college career and what the coaches have said about him this year. Forget last year people. Players change, attitiudes change, injuries get better. The coaches and Mcnabb have had nothing but good things to say about Sully. And Ponder missed several throws? He was 10-16! He has played very well for a month old NFL QB!

  37. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Metrodome, whoops !!!

  38. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I agree, Ponder is the future, I just hope he can learn and sit for at least 1-2 more years after this season.

  39. By Robins on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Ponder was great in college and for his first NFL start, he showed intelligence and how athletic he is! What a great future the Vikings have with Ponder! He will take them to the super bowl! When McNabb starts messing up, Ponder will take over. I am so thrilled for the Vikings! They should go into their first game with high expectations and play hard to show their back ups that they can win too. It was a good, fun game. Good luck next week!

  40. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    The majority of the backups looked good last night, some tough decisions ahead !!!

  41. By vikefan1969 on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Yea saw some really nice Oline play from Fusco and Olsen…could not make out all the guys as was watching just highlights, will be glad when NFL Net replays the game so I can see who else was out there and how they played as well.

  42. By WisconViking on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    There is something to be said about a running O-line for pass protection. I can remember back to the Tarkington years where he use to run around and find someone open. Of course the defenses were slower back then but he made the game exciting. The Vikes got away from that back when they got George. Went to a 5 step drop passer and got killed. QBs like Tark, Gannon, Daunte made the game more fun to watch. Even Brett in 09 was able to run around a little and make some magic. (I never liked Brett) but he made the game fun when he would scramble or make impossible throws.

  43. By Rocksalt on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    to those who say Vikings will not move..I hope you are right, but more and more it is looking to be very problematic……..
    I heard the same from fellow North Star fans..” oh the North Stars will never move….MN is tTHE state of Hockey…..”…….never happen blah blah blah…..wake up! other cities, counties, states have manned up to keep their teams by rebuilding or rennovating stadiums.MN? METRODOME? SERIOUSLY OUTDATED AND NOT PRFITABLE FOR VIKINGS………..DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

  44. By Rocksalt on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    truspeed-
    what is sad is blind cheerleaders like yourself……..

  45. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    @ Rocksalt, do you really think the Vikings will move to LA, I realize the North Stars moved, but that’s a long time ago.Refurbish the HHH Metrodome is a possibility, but I would like to see an open air stadium, like the Metropolitan, just upgraded, obviously.

  46. By Viking Joe on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Also were do you get your not profitable stats at?

  47. By Amish Viking on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    Any suggestions to watch the regular season games on-line?…I don”t have direct -tv.

  48. By Nancy on Sep 2, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve watched the Vikes for years. I’m impressed with how the team is not quitting — even in pre-season. Leslie and the coaching staff are doing a great job. I look forward to a fun year!

  49. By billy on Sep 3, 2011 | Reply

    What a blessing for Kevin Williams to get 2 game suspension. His foot could really use the 2 extra weeks of rest. This will let a few of the young guys see if they can step up and be a big part of the D line this year.
    On the stadium issue the business that it will bring in to north metro would be such big deal with everything in the cities or south. We build the U of M and the Twins a stadium when the Viks are 10 times more popular should be a no brainer to build the stadium. Wake up north metro voters this will be great for your area and there will be more hotels and restaurants and shops. Your property value will also go up. They will also host a superbowl some year along with other big events to bring big money to the North metro and get them on the map. Do not let some ignorant city concil worker stop this to many people in Minnesota have purple blood and love the Vikings

  50. By billy on Sep 3, 2011 | Reply

    O ya and its not like the government hasn’t spend money poorly many many times before and thats why the states in trouble. It would be the worst thing to happen in Minnesota history if we loose the Viks !!!!!

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