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Player Safety At TCF Bank Stadium “Should Not Be An Issue”

Posted by cjsiewert on December 16, 2010 – 3:06 pm

Despite concerns on whether or not TCF Bank Stadium will be ready for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, and reports that the field is frozen, Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier alleviated concerns on player safety regarding the playing surface during his Thursday press conference.

“From everything that I’ve been told, player safety should not be an issue,” Frazier mentioned. “They’re doing everything possible to assure us that that’s not going to be an issue and that’s what we’re believing. We’ll get a chance to go through a walk-through on Sunday or Saturday as a team. That’s what we’re looking forward to and our guys can get comfortable with it.”

Frazier also mentioned that he has talked with his players about the safety issue, echoing his statements towards the media.

“I have talked to our players about that fact and just assured them that the league is making sure that safety will not be an issue,” Frazier reiterated. “That they can approach this with great confidence and go out and just perform and play the way they want to play and I have confidence that part of it will not be an issue.”

The Vikings spent their first 21 seasons as a franchise playing outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium and will be doing the same for the first time in 29 years to the day on Monday night. The matchup against the Bears will feature a celebration of the franchise’s 50 seasons, with the “50 Greatest Vikings” to be honored at halftime. Many of the former Vikings players that will be honored on Monday night played in freezing-cold conditions late in the season at the old Met and it will fitting that their recognition will take place in the same conditions that they became accustom to over their careers in Minnesota.

Vikings QB Brett Favre acknowledged that he, too, along with former Vikings that played at the old Met, had to adapt to such conditions and that the question of player safety may been seen as an after-thought to the “50 Greatest Vikings.”

“These older guys that will be back this week will laugh at that question,” Favre said.


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QB Decision To Be Made In The Next Couple Of Days

Posted by cjsiewert on December 16, 2010 – 1:58 pm

With Brett Favre’s sprained throwing shoulder placing his availability for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears in question, coupled with the decision to put Tarvaris Jackson on injured reserve, the Vikings signed journeyman QB Patrick Ramsey to add depth to an injury-plagued QB unit.

Ramsey, an 8-year veteran out of Tulane, spent his first 4 seasons with the Washington Redskins, the 2006 season with the NY Jets, 2007-08 with the Denver Broncos, 2009 with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions and was with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins this year. He hasn’t played in a game since 2008 and hasn’t started since 2005.

Ramsey’s most productive season was in 2003 where the 6-2, 225-pounder started and played in 11 games completing 179 of 337 passes for 2,166 yards, 14 TDs and 9 INTs. His career totals are 511 completions on 913 attempts for 5,930 yards, 35 TDs and 30 INTs.

The signing of Ramsey doesn’t necessitate his presence on the playing field this week, but rather gives the Vikings more depth at the QB position that is lacking it. As far as Favre’s status goes, Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier mentioned during his Thursday press conference that his condition would be made clearer as the week progresses.

“We’re trying to determine when and if he’ll be able to do anything at all this week,” Frazier said. “So we’ll see what happens probably a little bit later in the week.”

Even with Favre’s availability up in the air and Jackson placed on injured reserve, there are still uncertainties on who will be the Vikings starting QB come Monday night. Joe Webb is the team’s #3 QB, but has been dealing with a hamstring injury that he suffered early in the game against the Buffalo Bills a week-and-a-half ago.

“We’ll see,” Frazier said in response when asked if Webb would be the starter. “Just give it a couple of days and see if things change. We’ll see what happens.”

In just a matter of a week, the Vikings have gone from a team that never had to worry about its starting QB, since Favre had started an NFL-record 297 consecutive times before, to a team that may be starting a QB who has never made a start and has played in only 2.

Given the circumstances, though, Frazier acknowledged that Webb would be taking reps with the 1st team offense in practice this week and that the rookie QB is up to the challenge. Also, the interim coach said that Webb “may be passed that hamstring (injury).”

“Just in talking with Joe, he’s really excited about the opportunity,” Frazier said. “He can’t wait to line up and play and have a chance to start. If that happens, he’s not running away from it and we have confidence that he can get it done.”


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Analyzing The Vikings Defense

Posted by cjsiewert on December 15, 2010 – 4:33 pm

Aside from the fact that the Vikings suffered a deflating 21-3 loss to the NY Giants last Monday night, the defense played well as it has been since Leslie Frazier took over as interim head coach.

It may not look like any phase of the Vikings team played well by simply looking at the score, but when we take a deeper look into the game, it’s clear that the defense held its own throughout the contest.

Yes, the defense allowed a season-high 213 rushing yards, but if you take away both Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw’s longest runs – 73 and 48, respectively – that number is reduced to 92 yards and 1 less TD since Bradshaw’s 48-yard run in the 3rd quarter was good for a score.

The secondary also played quite well, picking off Giants QB Eli Manning twice in the 1st half. The first INT came on the Giants 3rd play from scrimmage where Vikings CB Frank Walker jumped in front of Giants WR Hakeem Nicks on a seem route down the right hash, picking off Manning’s pass and returning it 10 yards to the NY 34. The turnover resulted in a 31-yard FG by Vikings K Ryan Longwell.

Manning’s second INT came on the Giants 2nd play of the 2nd quarter. Vikings CB Asher Allen established position in front of Giants WR Mario Manningham – who was running a short slant route at midfield – marking Manning’s 11th INT against the Vikings in 5 games. The INT gave the Vikings the ball at their own 41, but they were unable to convert the turnover into points.

To go with the pair of INTs, the Vikings defense allowed Manning to complete a pedestrian 22 of 37 passes (59.5%) for 187 yards and 1 TD. The 59.5 completion percentage was Manning’s 3rd worst of the season. That low completion percentage is a reflection of the Vikings front 4 putting pressure on the Giants QB for much of the game.

Vikings DT Kevin Williams posted a season-high 6 tackles (3 for loss) while DE Jared Allen increased his consecutive games with a sack streak to 5 and now has 9.5 on the season, furthermore establishing his worthiness of a 4th consecutive Pro Bowl nod.

Other positive numbers for the Vikings defense include 6 tackles for a loss for -19 yards while allowing a 23% (3 of 13) 3rd-down efficiency for the Giants.


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Full Attention On TCF Bank Stadium

Posted by cjsiewert on December 15, 2010 – 7:47 am

On December 20, 1981, the Vikings hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in the final game played at Metropolitan Stadium – the original home of the Vikings for 21 seasons. And 29 years to the day later, the Vikings may be hosting their first game outdoors since that 10-6 loss to end the 1981 season.

In a team issued statement regarding Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears that was released Tuesday afternoon, the Vikings stated that they are “committed to playing Monday night’s game in Minnesota in front of our fans. With Mall of America Field at the Metrodome now unavailable, we have turned our full attention to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.”

As a result of the Mall of America Field roof collapse last Sunday morning due to record-setting snowfall in the Twin Cities area – the 4th collapse in the stadium’s history – the Vikings were forced to relocate their scheduled Week 14 game against the NY Giants to Ford Field on Monday night, and are now faced with another relocation for a game that will feature a celebration of the franchise’s 50 seasons of football.

If this scenario plays out, Vikings fans will be in for a taste (or reminder) of what it’s like to host an outdoor game late in the season in the midst of Minnesota winter weather. Monday night’s forecast calls for borderline sub-zero temperatures with a wind chill of -18 degrees. Wind gusts could reach 21 miles per hour.

As repairs are attended to at Mall of America Field, reported groups of 100 workers, working 4-hour shifts for 16 hours a day, will be digging out TCF Bank Stadium in order to have the stadium ready for Monday night’s game.

With complete cooperation from the University of Minnesota, it seems likely that Monday night’s game will be played at the 50,805-capacity on-campus venue. But nothing has been officially confirmed yet, so we’ll keep you posted with the on-goings right here on vikings.com.

What happened 29 years ago?
– The final points at the old Met were scored on a 33-yard FG by Vikings K Rick Danmeier.
– The last Vikings TD was scored on a 6-yard run by RB Ted Brown against Green Bay on Nov. 29, 1981.
— The 1981 Vikings posted a 5-3 home record (7-9 overall), losing their final 2 games at the Met to the Packers and the Chiefs.
— Game attendance on Dec. 20, 1981 was 41,110 (over 6,000 less than capacity).


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Bradshaw Puts Giants Up 21-3

Posted by cjsiewert on December 13, 2010 – 8:52 pm

In a game that has seen Vikings P Chris Kluwe boot the ball away 8 times, it was only a matter of time before the Giants broke a big play with all the opportunities they have been given. And Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw did just that on a 48-yard breakaway TD down the left sideline, giving his team a 21-7 lead late in the 3rd quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Vikings KR Lorenzo Booker took the kick back 96 yards for the TD, but Jasper Brinkley nullified the play by committing a block in the back penalty, bringing the ball back to the MIN 43.

The Giants lead the Vikings 21-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter.


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Halftime: Giants 14 – Vikings 3

Posted by cjsiewert on December 13, 2010 – 8:05 pm

With just :03 remaining in the 1st half, Giants QB Eli Manning found TE Kevin Boss on a quick stop-and-go route in the middle of the endzone to give his team a 14-3 lead entering the locker room for halftime.

The 9-play, 71-yard scoring drive generated momentum following a costly personal foul committed by Vikings CB Asher Allen for a helmet-to-helmet contact on the Giants 1st play of the series – the penalty gave the Giants 1st and 10 from their own 46. On the ensuing play, Manning found WR Hakeem Nicks streaking down the left sideline for a 30-yard gain; Allen was the closest defender.

In place of Brett Favre, Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson has completed 10 of 13 passes for 77 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs.

The Giants defense has held Vikings RB Adrian Peterson to just 16 yards on 10 carries. Sidney Rice leads the Vikings receiving core with 38 yards on 4 receptions.

Vikings CBs Frank Walker and Allen both have an INT, but the offense has only been able to muster out 3 points as a result.

New York will receive the 2nd half kickoff.


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Big Run By Jacobs Leads To 7-3 Giants Lead

Posted by cjsiewert on December 13, 2010 – 7:28 pm

Giants RB Brandon Jacobs highlighted a 6-play, 89-yard TD drive with 74 yards on 2 carries, giving his team a 7-3 lead at the 8:14 mark of the 2nd quarter.

The scoring drive was sparked by a 73-yard run by Jacobs. On the play, Jacobs broke free off the right end where the Vikings defense lost contain of the edge, allowing the big gain. Jacobs’ 2nd carry of the series came from the MIN 1-yard line where the stocky RB ran through the Vikings defense untouched for the TD.

Giants QB Eli Manning threw his 2nd INT of the game on the second play of the 2nd quarter – his 11th career INT against the Vikings in 5 games – but the Vikings could not convert the turnover into points.

The Giants lead 7-3 midway through the 2nd quarter.


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Vikings Take Early 3-0 Lead

Posted by cjsiewert on December 13, 2010 – 6:52 pm

The Vikings received the opening kickoff and for the 1st time in his 20-year career, QB Brett Favre did not run on to the field to guide his team’s offense. Favre’s streak of 297 consecutive regular season games started came to end, giving way to backup QB Tarvaris Jackson.

The Vikings offense stalled in its 1st series and punted away to the NY Giants. Giants QB Eli Manning and Co. started their drive at their own 14, and after 3 plays, Manning threw his league-leading 18th INT of the season. Vikings CB Frank Walker picked off Manning at the NY 44 and returned it 10 yards down to the 34.

Jackson and Co. returned to the field and slowly moved their way down the field for a 10-play, 34-yard scoring drive that ended on a 31-yard FG by K Ryan Longwell. Jackson kept the drive alive on a 4th and 1 attempt where he pushed forward for the 1st down.

The Vikings lead 3-0 midway through the 1st quarter.


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Can The Vikings Make The Playoffs?

Posted by cjsiewert on December 13, 2010 – 8:28 am

I know what you’re thinking; Jim Mora’s famous remarks on whether or not his 2001 Indianapolis Colts team would reach the playoffs following a loss to the San Francisco 49ers, dropping their record to 4-6. “Playoffs? Don’t talk about… playoffs?”

But in light of the NFC North front-runners – Chicago Bears (9-4) and Green Bay Packers (8-5) – both losing on Sunday, the Vikings still hold a mathematical possibility of reaching the playoffs. So, in case you wanted to know, here’s one scenario in which the Vikings could reach the playoffs…

1)     Vikings win remaining 4 games
2)     Packers lose remaining 3 games
3)     Giants lose to Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles (12/19) and Washington Redskins (1/2/11); beat Packers (12/26)
4)     Tampa Bay Bucs lose at least 2 of remaining 3 games

The Atlanta Falcons (11-2) and New Orleans Saints (10-3) out of the NFC South have already garnered more wins than the Vikings could possibly reach, leaving only 1 Wild Card slot open to the Purple. If all 4 of the listed possibilities occur over the remainder of the season, here is how the NFC playoffs would shape up…

South Champ – Falcons or Saints
North Champ – Bears
East Champ – Eagles
West Champ – St. Louis Rams or Seattle Seahawks
Wild Card – Falcons or Saints
Wild Card – Vikings


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Vikings, Giants Ground Games May Take Center Stage

Posted by cjsiewert on December 9, 2010 – 6:40 am

With Brett Favre’s status unclear coupled with the recent outburst of the NY Giants RB tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, Sunday’s matchup at Mall of America Field might end up being a classic ground-and-pound battle.

Last Sunday, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson ran up the score, literally, with 3 TDs while the Giants RB duo of Bradshaw and Jacobs combined for 200 yards and 4 TDs in a victory over the Washington Redskins. And as the old adage goes, ‘if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ So why would either the Vikings or Giants veer away from their recent successes running the ball? I can’t think of a reason.

Not to mention that Favre has thrown more INTs this season than any other QB with 18 and Giants QB Eli Manning ranks 2nd in the category with 17 – another reason for both teams to establish their rushing attacks. Despite those numbers, though, both the Vikings and Giants posted convincing wins last week with negative passing TD-to-INT ratios (Vikings 2-4, Giants 0-1).

Another reason why I’m speculating a run-heavy contest on Sunday is caused by Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier’s approach during his first 2 games at the helm.

Over the past 2 games, the Vikings have recorded a 78-46 run-pass ratio, with the Giants providing a 62-49 ratio during that same span. Frazier has also emphasized his vision of the team’s identity, stating that they’re at their best when “we’re running the ball and stopping the run.”

Also, let’s not forget that both teams boast dominant defensive fronts with the ability to get after the QB. The Giants defense ranks 3rd in the league with 35 sacks and the Vikings may only rank in a pedestrian 20th place with 22, but have compiled 8 over their last 3 games. These numbers give added incentive for each team’s QB to hand the ball off.

Getting back to the Giants RB tandem, Frazier told reporters on Wednesday that his defense, which has allowed just 113 rushing yards total over the last 2 games, will need to maintain its dominance to stop the Giants dangerous ground game.

“They’re playing well,” Frazier acknowledged of Bradshaw and Jacobs. “It will be a great challenge for our defense. We really hang our hat on being able to stop the run and this will be a week to stand up in that area because once they get it going in the run game it makes Eli a lot better and makes their receivers a lot better. We’re going to have to be right against their run game.”


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