The Vikings offense began the game with an uninspiring series. At first, it looked like they were going to be able to run the ball, with AD picking up 11 yards to start the game. Immediately, however, the Falcons shut down the running game and Teddy moved to passing – both times behind the 1st down marker, killing the drive. Can we please stop passing behind the 1st down marker on 3rd down? It never works, Norv. Find something new.
That being said, the Vikings won. Woo! They surely needed that after the horrendous play last week against the worst opponent (and fan base) ever. You might recall I wasn’t happy last week. I’m happier this week, although this team continues to concern me.
Speaking of concerns, let’s break it down.
- In the 2nd offensive series, Teddy connected well with Kyle Rudolph multiple times. There were some missteps, but a PI call against the Falcons gave AD the opportunity to rush for a TD. As an added bonus, Walsh actually managed to kick the extra point.
- With 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter, Anthony Barr stripped the ball from Coleman (#26, Falcons) after it looked like all was lost. In a heads up play, Exum recovered and the ball went back to the Vikings.
- Rhett Ellison grabbed a perfectly thrown screen and took it for big yards in the 1st quarter.
- Jerrick McKinnon picked up 9 yards when he entered the game in the 1st quarter. And then he ran again for another 10. McKinnon was a factor throughout the game and he ran hard and well.
- The Vikings racked up 157 yards of offense in the first quarter.
- The Vikings held the Falcons to a field goal mid-2nd quarter, despite being down to the 3rd and 4th string safeties. A little personal foul on the Falcons was a major assist in that effort.
- Captain Munnerlyn made a big play late in the 2nd quarter, jumping a route and intercepting Matt Ryan with 1:26 left in the half. Unfortunately, Zimmer chose to play conservatively and the Vikings did nothing to capitalize on the turnover when Walsh completely shanked another field goal. See “The Inexplicable” for further commentary on field goals and Blair Walsh.
- Exum made big plays today, filling in for Harrison Smith. He really stepped up and should feel proud of his performance.
- Terrence Newman had a HUGE interception in the 3rd quarter. He stepped in front of the receiver in the end zone and intercepted Matt Ryan for a touch back, serving 2 purposes: no points for the Falcons and a 20 yard line start for the Vikings offense.
- Everson Griffen got the 1st sack of the game late in the 3rd quarter. The announcers said he threw Matt Ryan down like a rag doll, but I personally though it was more like he was pinwheeling Ryan, ending in a lovely pirouette. Ryan absolutely stuck the landing, butt down on the artificial turf. Bring up 4th down!
- The Vikings defense did a great job suppressing the explosive plays of Julio Jones. They covered him well and limited his impact on the game.
- At a critical juncture – 4th down and 1 deep in the 4th quarter, Anthony Barr came roaring out of the backfield and sacked Matt Ryan and forced a fumble. Falcons recovered, but it mattered not at all as the Vikings took over on downs.
- Late in the 4th quarter, AD got loose and rushed for his 99th career touchdown. And. There. Is. Your. Dagger!
- Stefon Diggs needs to get over himself. Making a catch is not something to celebrate – especially when your celebration draws a flag for taunting. Given how much the officiating crews clearly WANT to flag the Vikings for anything and everything, the Vikings cannot give them reasons to do it. They will NEVER come out on top.
- On the 2nd offensive series, Peterson had a clear TD in his sights as he completely failed to catch a perfectly thrown ball. Luckily for the Vikings, the Falcons committed an obvious PI infraction near the goal line on the next play, so they got another set of downs which allowed AD to run it in.
- Teddy needs to stop holding onto the ball so long. The o-line isn’t great and he’s taking far too many hits. Time for him to stop making rookie mistakes; he’s no longer a rookie.
- Sendejo was injured during the game with a knee. Net result there: Exum and Blanton were the safeties on the field. Not our first or second choice. Not good conceptually. In practice? Less bad than one might expect!
- The Falcons figured out how to run against the Vikings as they took to the field in the 2nd half. They kept pounding up the middle and the Vikings had little success in stopping them.
- Norv Turner cost the Vikings a TD in the 3rd quarter through ridiculous play calling. Where is the smash mouth football? Where is the unrelenting will to win? We need an OC with some guts – not the current careful game planning that we see every week. Go for the throat, Norv. Personally, I don’t think he has it in him. Every week we hear about what a tremendous OC he is. Oh yeah? Where’s the brilliance? I’ll tell you where it’s not: in the OC spot on the Vikings.
- Special teams didn’t produce any points today. It was unfortunate that the Falcons’ special teams were playing well. I was really hoping for an insurance TD from the likes of Marcus Sherels or Cordarrelle Patterson. Instead, Weems had a great kick off return mid-4th quarter, which the Vikings could ill afford, given their inability to put points on the board.
- To start the 2nd quarter, Teddy was intercepted in the end zone. AGAIN. How many damn times is this going to happen? This INT brings his stats to 8 TDs 7 INTs. Stats like that may have worked for Brett Favre, but Teddy is no Brett and I’m sick to death of the end zone missteps.
- The Vikings just can’t stop the sloppy play resulting in penalties. Holding on the defense. Holding on the offense. Facemask – twice on Tom Johnson. Illegal contact – multiple times. Taunting. You name it, they committed it. I thought Zimmer prided himself on having a clean team when it came to penalties. This current team sure isn’t living up to his – or my – expectations in this realm lately. They’re in full meltdown and their status as the least penalized team in the league is gone.
- Blair Walsh in the 50+ yard range. Completely ineffective. What is wrong with him? He has the leg for them but his accuracy is a big pile of crap and has been since his rookie season. The question is: how long do you stick with a kicker who can’t consistently perform? I know the Packers stuck with Mason Crosby when he was having his troubles but one could argue that Crosby can’t be counted on to win games (see: Packers vs Lions). Blair Walsh has won games… but the Vikings have also lost many games by less than 6 points and typically those have been when Walsh has missed 2 – 3 field goals. Should he stay or should he go now? (you can sing that if you want)
So, that’s it for this week, Vikings fans. Next up: Seachickens. Let’s see what that game brings. In the mean time? Let’s enjoy being the NFC North Division Leader!
How are you feeling about today’s Vikings team?