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Oct 26

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Week Eight: Vikings vs Buccaneers

If you follow me on Twitter or on this blog, you may have noted my absence last week (and for MNF and TNF, too.). I had something akin to the Bubonic Plague, which continues to linger but at least I can put some inflection in my voice now so I sound like a human.

Just in time for a Vikings win with a Strip 6 in OT!

This game wasn't going to go down as the most exciting game taking place in Week 8 of the 2014 season.

This game wasn’t going to go down as the most exciting game taking place in Week 8 of the 2014 season. Until the last 5 minutes or so of the game, with a delightful win for the Vikings in overtime.

This game ended up being a lot more interesting than the first 3 and a half quarters would have indicated as a possibility. For example, with 7 minutes and 38 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, I found myself wondering if either of these befuddled teams would manage to score today. On Twitter I saw the game described as a “pillow fight”, a “snoozefest” and a tale of 2 teams playing down to the level of their competition. I can’t disagree with any of these. Frankly, I was enjoying other game updates on Twitter quite a bit. Who doesn’t want to follow the Percy-to-the-Jets saga? Or Geno Smith’s first quarter interception meltdown? Or Seattle’s struggles against the Panther’s defense. I think the fact that the first score of the game was a 46 yard Blair Walsh field goal with 4 seconds left in the first half is illustration enough of what kind of game this was. And, what an exciting first half!

To me, the game can best be summed up by the fact that the first red zone action of the ENTIRE game arrived with 7:39 seconds left in the third quarter. Surprisingly, it was the Vikings who not only threatened to score… but did on the first red zone play – a 15 yard TD pass from Bridgewater to Jennings in the back of the end zone. I’ll take it.

Let’s break down this laborious game.

Zimmerisms

  •  When asked how he felt when Anthony Barr was running the Strip back for 6, Coach Zimmer said, “Initially I was a little bit upset with him because he didn’t widen with the Tight End enough and he let him catch the ball, but now that it’s over, I’m glad he did.”
  • On Jerick McKinnon, “He looks like a pretty good back, doesn’t he?” Oh Coach Zimmer… a McKinnon fanboy! He went on to say, “I love the way he runs. He’s got some great cut-ability. But the thing I like most about him right now is his physicality when he runs.”
  • On multiple punt touchbacks for the Bucs off Locke’s punting efforts. “It’s disappointing…. what’s more disappointing are the penalties in the punting game… I’m just about fed up with it.” (Go get ’em Zim!)
  • Not a Zimmerism, but I sure do like the way Teddy Bridgewater handles himself during his pressers.
Someone has a lot to celebrate these days!

Someone has a lot to celebrate these days!

The Good

  • ANTHONY BARR with a Strip 6! In OT. And there I was, all prepared to be crushed.
  • Did I mention that Anthony Barr did what David Diehl called “The Old Lawnmower” strip of the ball? And then, did I tell you he picked it up? And ran it back 27 yards for a game winning TD? If I neglected to mention it, that’s all true.
  • Everson Griffen is having a hell of a season. He’s been racking up sacks like a Brit pounding tea in the face of a shortage.
  • All together, the Vikings had 5 sacks on the day. That’s not too shabby!
  • The Defense was strong today, pretty much right out of the gate. They were also great on 3rd downs, holding the Bucs to an 8% efficiency rate on 3rd down conversions. That’s 1 conversion on 12 attempts. Well done Zimmer-D.
  • Jimmy Johnson is bullish on the progress he sees with the Vikings. Must be nice to evaluate the team from afar, instead of living through year after year of mediocrity as a fan. #ThanksJimmy
  • Vikings managed to score a TD on a passing play – and get the first red zone action of the game.
  • Hide yo punt returners! They're gettin' destroyed up in here!

    Hide yo punt returners! They’re gettin’ destroyed up in here!

    Mauti celebrating taking out the Bucs’ punt returner, Holiday. Wow was he hyped up after a massive hit. Ripped his helmet off and practically howled. Maybe some day someone can explain this side of men to me.

The Bad

  • Tempo. The Vikings’ offense can’t find a consistent offensive tempo that allows them to relentlessly push down the field. Think Brees, Brady, Forehead Manning… when they’re in a groove, the offense flows like a machine. The Vikings’ offense hasn’t operated like that since the magical 2009 season with Favre at the helm.
  • The announcers for today’s game. Weird intonations with their inane banter, ill-fitting dress shirts making them look like freshmen boys having to wear their 7th grade special occasional button-downs to the Homecoming dance. David Diehl looked like the overgrown class jock while Justin Kutcher looked like he hadn’t yet hit puberty. With a size disparity like that, FOX should consider having the announcers sit down to do their commentary. Kutcher had to crank his head way back to look Diehl in the face. Certainly comical – and maybe the relief the game needed, now that I look back on it.
  • Greg Jennings has missed quite a few catchable balls over the last few games. I think he needs to fix that.
Vikings' O-Line: More holes than a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper

Vikings’ O-Line: More holes than a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper

The Ugly

  • While somewhat improved, the offensive line for the Vikings continues to be a complete and utter travesty. Of course, because the o-line I refer to belongs to the Vikings, it manages to have moments of brilliance. In order to give us hope. Only to come back and trash that hope on the very next play. I know we all know what I’m talking about.
  • 3rd down conversions. The team was actually at 40% today, which is less bad than usual. Nevertheless, they need to continue to ramp that up until they’re consistently able to convert on 3rd down.
  • Penalties. 6 for 59 yards. That’s a slight improvement since the beginning of the season; however, the bigger issue now is when the team is committing the penalties – and how many big plays they’re costing the team.

Things I’m Super Tired Of

  • The Vikings’ reliance on Blair Walsh making 50+ yard field goals to get any kind of output from the offense. There are things called “touch  downs”. It’s not illegal to score them. The Vikings should try doing so consistently.
  • A lack of bold plays over the last 5 seasons. Why can’t the Vikings ever fake a punt and actually pass for the 1st down? What ever happened to flea-flickers? Robert Smith and Randall Cunningham used to do them every game. Seeing a few reverses, while not tricky, would be fun. Just anything to shake up the malaise. Please…

So, that’s it. Last week, our game ended in last second heartbreak. This week, last second triumph. What will next week bring?

 

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