Frazier Says Vikings Played Smart, Tough, Disciplined Football In Win

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2012 – 11:21 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has been cognizant of the mental approach his team has taken during each week of the season, and he hasn’t been afraid to share his observations publicly. Following the Vikings Week 3 home win over the San Francisco 49ers, Frazier acknowledged that his team did not handle very well the success they saw in a Week 1 win over Jacksonville. The result was a Week 2 letdown loss at Indianapolis.

In his post-game press conference following the 49ers win, though, Frazier explained that his team had gotten back on the right track in terms of preparation. He sang the same tune after the Vikings win over Detroit a week ago, saying his team’s Friday practice that week was the best Friday practice of the season.

So, following the Vikings most recent win, what was Frazier’s assessment of his team’s mental approach?

“The preparation that we put in during the week and then to go out and play as hard as we played, I take my hat off to our players and our coaching staff for preparing them to go out and play hard, play smart football, play tough football, disciplined football, which we want to embody,” Frazier said immediately after the Vikings win over Tennessee. “We want our team characteristics to show up every time we play. I thought our guys and our coaches did a great job of coming into this game with the right frame of mind.”

After starting the season 3-1, a mark that included victories over a pair of 2011 playoff teams in San Francisco and Detroit, many outside the organization wondered if the upstart Vikings would overlook an opponent with an inferior record. The Titans entered this week’s contest with a 1-3 mark and they had lost their three games by an average of 24.3 points per game. But Frazier’s constant monitoring of his team’s mindset and his willingness to express both pleasure and disappointment in that mindset will more times than not prevent the Vikings from becoming complacent.

“For us, the previous wins were against teams that people on the outside probably didn’t think that we would have much of a chance to win,” Frazier said. “Then you come back at home against a team that they’re hearing from their friends, saying ‘Oh, you guys got this. You got this.’ And what tends to happen, you can have a lull in your preparation, you can have a lull in the emotion and necessary tools to go out and win a game like this.

“Every team in this League can beat you on any given Sunday, so it was important for us from a maturity standpoint to show that we can win a game against what we thought, and we still believe, has a chance to be a very, very good football team. For us to go out and dominate in so many ways, that’s a good sign about our football team.”

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Vikings Ride Defense, Harvin To 30-7 Win Over Titans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2012 – 6:58 pm

The Vikings used a consistent dose of body blows from their defense and several stunning jabs from Percy Harvin to knock out the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon at Mall of America Field, coming away with a 30-7 victory when all was said and done that moved them to 4-1 on the season. The win was the Vikings third of the season at home and it keeps them in a 1st-place tie atop the NFC North with the Chicago Bears.

Tennessee began the game with the ball, and used a 17-yard gain on 3rd and 5 followed by a 12-yard gain on the following play to push the ball inside of Vikings territory. After that, though, the Vikings defense bowed up and forced a Titans punt. That was as good as it would get for the Titans offense until it was too late. That first drive went 7 plays and 33 yards before stalling out, and the Titans were not able to run more than five plays or gain more than 26 yards in any of the next eight series. Tennessee’s first nine drives ended in the following ways: punt, punt, fumble, interception, punt, punt, end of half, punt, punt.

While the Vikings defense was pitching a shutout for three-plus quarters, the Vikings offense was slowly putting together an insurmountable lead, with WR Percy Harvin as the lynchpin and QB Christian Ponder as the triggerman. Harvin was up to his old tricks, serving as a lethal and versatile threat throughout the game. He had 2 rushes for 8 yards, including a 4-yard TD, and caught 8 passes for 108 yards and another TD. Ponder threw his first 2 INTs of the season, but he was able to bounce back in a big way. He finished going 25 of 35 for 258 yards with 2 TDs to go along with the INTs. His second TD went to Kyle Rudolph in the 4th quarter and essentially ended any thought of an improbable Titans comeback.

As they’ve been able to do during their wins, the Vikings ran the ball with enough effectiveness to keep the opposing defense off-balance. Adrian Peterson carried the ball 17 times for 88 yards while Toby Gerhart logged 41 yards on 6 carries. As a team, the Vikings gained 175 rushing yards on 31 carries, good for a 5.6-yard average and good enough to allow the play-action pass to be effective. The Vikings picked up 25 first downs during the game, with nine of them coming on the ground, 13 through the air and another three via penalty.

But make no mistake, the foundation of Sunday’s Vikings win was a suffocating defensive performance that kept RB Chris Johnson frustrated and QB Matthew Hasselbeck uncomfortable. Johnson was held to just 24 yards on 15 carries (1.6 yards per carry) and Hasselbeck was sacked twice while going 26 of 43 for 200 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Those numbers a bit deceiving, though, because Hasselbeck had just 83 yards passing by the end of the 3rd quarter and picked up the rest while the Vikings played a conservative defense that forced Tennessee to methodically march down the field instead of striking quickly.

In the 1st half, though, the Vikings defense was anything but conservative. They sacked Hasselbeck twice, Antoine Winfield intercepted him once and they forced two fumbles with fumble recovery. The Titans were just 1 of 7 on 3rd downs in the first two quarters and Johnson had just 12 yards rushing on 8 attempts. Behind the stellar defensive performance, Harvin’s rushing TD and 2 Blair Walsh FGs, the Vikings led 13-0 at halftime.

The Vikings pushed their lead to 23-0 after another Walsh FG – he was 3-of-3 on the afternoon – and Harvin’s 10-yard TD catch before the Titans finally got on the board with a 10-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to TE Jared Cook. Ponder and Co. wasted no time responding to Tennessee’s only score, though, driving 43 yards in just 6 plays on the following drive to score on a 15-yard Ponder-to-Rudolph connection, giving the Vikings their final 30-7 advantage.

The Vikings defense didn’t collect a bunch of sacks on the afternoon, but they were constantly pestering Hasselbeck and forcing him to either throw too quickly or throw inaccurately. The Vikings defensive line was also credited with 3 passes defensed, an indication that even when they didn’t get to Hasselbeck they were still able to disrupt him. Unofficially, LB Chad Greenway was credited with 9 tackles to lead the team and CB Josh Robinson was second on the team with 6 tackles. Greenway had 1 tackle for loss and 1 pass defensed, while S Jamarca Sanford (2), DT Kevin Williams (2), LB Jasper Brinkley (1), Winfield (1), CB Chris Cook (1) and DE Jared Allen (1) had the other pass break-ups. LB Erin Henderson had 2 tackles for loss and DE Brian Robison and Allen each had 1.

We will have much more analysis and reaction to the Vikings win on Sunday, so stay tuned to to stay on top of it all. The Vikings next game is Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field, where they will challenge the Washington Redskins in a game that is scheduled to kick off at 3:25 p.m. CT.

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Vikings-Titans Inactives

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 7, 2012 – 1:00 pm

Here are the Vikings inactives players for today’s game vs. the Titans:

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Jarius Wright, S Andrew Sendejo, S Mistral Raymond, LB Marvin Mitchell, OL Mark Asper, & DE D’Aundre Reed.

Titans Inactives: QB J. Locker, RB J. Harper, LB P. Bailey, T M. Otto, G D. Lutui, WR L. Hawkins, and DE S. Solomon.

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Hutchinson Returns, Set To Face Former Teammates

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2012 – 12:05 pm

It’s Sunday and Steve Hutchinson is warming up inside Mall of America Field. For the last severeal seasons, there would be nothing notable about that. But this season, it’s a subplot to today’s Vikings-Titans game because Hutchinson and the Vikings split up this past offseason, leading to his signing in Tennessee.

Hutchinson was originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with a 1st-round pick in 2001, but signed with the Vikings as a free agent in 2005. In 6 seasons with the Vikings, Hutchinson played in 89 games and helped the Vikings advance to the playoffs twice (2008, 2009). Also in 6 seasons with the Vikings, Hutchinson battled the Vikings interior defensive line – anchored by Kevin Williams – during practices.

Today, he’ll battle Williams and Co. during a game. The Vikings defensive line has gone to more of a rotational strategy this season, and it’s produced results the past two weeks. The Vikings defensive line has 6 of the team’s 8 sacks the past two games, and for the season the Vikings are permitting just 3.3 yards per carry and roughly 85 yards per game.

On most snaps, looks for Hutchinson’s assignment to be either Williams or fellow starting DT Letroy Guion. When the rotation is in play, Hutchinson could see either Christian Ballard or Fred Evans, and in nickel situations it could even be Everson Griffen who lines up opposite Hutchinson.

It may not be the most important matchup or subplot of this game, but given how important Hutchinson was to the Vikings success in recent seasons, it’s certainly one worth watching. And with the Titans best offensive threat being RB Chris Johnson, who had 141 rushing yards last week, it ultimately may end up being one of the key matchups when all is said and done.

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Vikings-Titans Game Kicks Off At 3:25 CT, Televised By CBS

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2012 – 10:12 am

Fans who stick to their normal game-day routine today of turning the television to FOX at noon to watch the Vikings game are going to be greeted with a surprise. No Vikings game. But there’s no need for panic, just patience. The Vikings and Titans will play at 3:25 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised by CBS.

Bill Macatee will handle play-by-play duties and Steve Tasker will provide the analysis. There will be a national radio broadcast of the game, too, with Sports USA handling that job and featuring Bob Fitzgerald and Charles Arbuckle with the call.

Vikings Radio Network Game Broadcast
You can also catch today’s Vikings-Titans game on the Vikings Radio Network – KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130 locally. Paul Allen and Pete Bercich will call the action from the booth and Greg Coleman will handle sideline reporting duties. The Vikings Radio Network pregame show, with Mike Mussman as host, begins at 1:00 p.m. CT.

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Vikings Shuffle LBs To Dance Around Injuries

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2012 – 7:12 am

A return from injury by Erin Henderson and a new injury for Marvin Mitchell could result in a small roster shuffle at LB for the Vikings on Sunday. Solid play in all phases of the game by Jasper Brinkley and solid depth behind Henderson and Mitchell will allow the Vikings defense to overcome the hurdles, though.

Henderson, who missed the past two games because of a concussion, was limited in practice on Wednesday but was a full participant on Thursday and Friday. He was listed as questionable for the Vikings on their final injury report. Mitchell, who has dealt with an ankle injury all season, also injured his calf during Wednesday’s practice. He was limited in work on Thursday, did not practice on Friday and is listed as doubtful on the final injury report.

While meeting with reporters on Friday after practice, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier intimated that Henderson will be able to play today, which is big news because of Mitchell’s expected absence. Even with Henderson back, though, expect both Audie Cole and Tyrone McKenzie to be active for the game.

The key to the whole picture, though, is the solid play from Brinkley, especially in the Vikings nickel package. Brinkley has displayed marked improvement in pass coverage, which has allowed the team to put Brinkley in its nickel package as the “MIKE” LB in place of Henderson, the team’s regular starter in that package.

“Yeah we’re going to keep Jasper at the nickel mike for the time being,” Frazier said. “He’s done a good job there. Give Erin a chance to kind of get his legs back under him and then we’ll revisit it later on. Jasper has done a good job so we have a lot of confidence in what he’s accomplished so far.”

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