Aug 18

Print this Post

Pre-Season Game 2: Vikings vs Bills

I’m getting back into the swing of looking forward to my weekly Vikings game. I don’t know about you, but I have missed football more than I can say. If you’re anything like me, you watch Vikings Game Plan before the game. I’m looking forward to the fall if only just to get Spielman to wear pants during his interviews.

During tonight’s game, the starters played a couple of additional series. Naturally, I know we’re all looking forward to the 3rd pre-season game so we can get a really good look at our team, but we saw some decent first-string action on the field tonight.

I look forward to seeing this in the regular season!

The Starters

The Vikings offense was first up for the night. Per the usual, the first play was a run. A 2-yard run by Gerhart. C’mon Musgrave – try to be slightly less predicatable. The 2nd play was a quick slant to PERCY, who had a great run after the catch and added another 15 yards to that after getting hit late. 3rd play was a sack that lost 3 yards. The 4th play was a quick pass in the flat to Jerome Simpson who leaped over a defender to get extra yards. As a side note – while I love Visanthe Shiancoe… our new 81 does a lot better with the YAC stat. I don’t know if you guys remember this as well as I do, but Shank used to fall down after the catch a lot.

Ponder took another sack before Gerhart busted out a decent run. A couple of plays later, it was a Ponder-Felton connection that gave us our 1st TD of the pre-season. It would also be our ONLY offensive TD of the evening. We’ll get to the implications of that in a bit.

The Vikings first-string defense took the field after the 80 yard scoring drive and they put together a very strong series, featuring Mistral Raymond, who seemed extra motivated. The Bills were forced to punt, giving the Vikings offense another crack at scoring. During this 2nd series, Ponder displayed a lot of composure and was able to go through a progression of reads that led to a nice toss over to Gerhart for several yards after the catch. This was just after Paul Allen was rhapsodizing about Peterson/Gerhart being the best 1-2 RB punch in the league. Paul is such a homer. The Vikings couldn’t seal the deal on a TD after a couple of “interesting” fade attempts by Ponder. Blair Walsh to the rescue with a field goal.

Harrison Smith celebrates after batting down a pass.

During the 2nd defensive series, Harrison Smith demonstrated why the Vikings drafted him by batting down a pass attempt by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Batting a ball down is good. Grabbing it out of the air for a delicious interception is better. Hopefully we’ll see that refined a bit in the regular season.

During the 3rd offensive series, Kyle Rudolph got a little dinged up. Later in the broadcast, a dashing Ben Leber, sporting a purple dress shirt with matching tie, would inform us that Kyle had a “little bit of an owie” behind his ear and it was treated with a band-aid. Also during the 3rd offensive series, Ponder went deep to Jenkins and connected along the sideline. Ponder showed a lot of versatility during the game (with the exception of his fades). Post-game commentary revolved around Ponder targeting 8 different receivers and spreading the wealth around. Last time we heard the pundits talking about a Vikings QB “spreading the ball around”, they were talking about Favre during the 2009 season. Now, I’m not comparing Ponder to Favre, but it’s literally been that long since someone said that about one of our QBs.

Everyone Else

Chris Carr hasn’t been doing himself any favors during the preseason. He seems to have been a very dedicated player prior to his injuries. Maybe he can turn things around… but he’s clearly running out of time.

Joe Webb isn’t an NFL QB. He’s made that clear now. I thought we should have run with him at QB instead of bringing in McNugget last year to give him a chance to settle in, but we didn’t and he’s languishing in the 2nd (or 3rd?) QB spot. It’s frankly a waste of incredible athleticism. Let’s get him on the field as a WR or even the 3rd RB. The kid can move – don’t sit him on a bench.

Special teams are looking pretty good. They’re getting downfield and stopping the kick and punt returners. Mistral Raymond and Josh Robinson started laying down some plays that will catch the eyes of the coaches.

Audie celebrates with his team-mates after his 2nd pick-6 in 13 seconds.

The big winner in the “Everyone Else” category has to be Audie Cole. Last week, he got the only sack of the night for the Vikings. Tonight he had 2 INTs. That would be impressive enough, but if you pair that with two TDs and the fact he did it in 13 seconds… WOW! Yes, I’m aware that Tyler Thigpen (who was drafted by the Vikings back in 2007, in the event anyone remembers that) is not a starting QB; however, what I really appreciated about Audie’s performance was that he was looking for the QB to telegraph where he was going with the ball, Audie read it and then jumped the route. I’m positive that a QB like Thigpen is much more obvious about broadcasting his intent than a first string QB in the NFL. The important thing is that Audie Cole is watching and waiting. I think we can all agree that we haven’t seen a lot of that from the Vikings defense in the last few years.

Many times during this game I felt something that felt suspiciously like hope for our season. Because I am, and have only ever been, a Vikings fan, I did everything possible to squash that hope as quickly as possible. I know you all know what I mean. Nevertheless, I saw the one thing I was hoping for tonight: passion. Our favorite team looked engaged and determined and it’s been 2 years since we’ve seen anything like that from them.

Based on Pre-Season Game 2, what do you think the Vikings will do this season? Vote now!


Permanent link to this article: http://www.vikesprincess.net/2012/08/pre-season-game-2-vikings-vs-bills/

%d bloggers like this: