The Vikings defense was in a mood to make a statement today against the Bengals, and for much of the first half, they did.
Leading the charge was Antoine Winfield, who got back on the field for the first time in weeks, and had an immediate impact in the running game, blowing up plays just like he never left. Unfortunately, Winfield missed his one chance to make a big play in the passing game, dropping an easy interception. He would make up for it late in the half, though, forcing a fumble to give the Vikes a field goal attempt with 5 seconds remaining. Ryan Longwell converted, putting the purple up 16-7 going into the break.
The defensive line also looked frisky coming off a terrible effort in Arizona. They did a good job slowing down Cedric Benson for most of the half, and got some pressure on Carson Palmer, including a big sack by Brian Robison.
There was one glaring defensive breakdown: The Bengals ran Chad Ochocinco on a fake reverse that he quickly changed directions on, faking Antoine Winfield out of his shoes and leading to an easy touchdown. The score may never had happened had Kevin Williams not gone stupid and hit Carson Palmer out of bounds for a drive-sustaining 15-yard penalty.
Offensively, things were a bit more of a struggle for the Vikes, at least initially. Brett Favre threw another pick, after getting some backside pressure, and for the first couple series seemed almost as discombobulated as last week against Arizona.
Luckily, Adrian Peterson was there to take up the slack. There were no spectacular runs, but he was consistent, and notched one big play on a swing pass that he was able to take around the corner.
Overall, it was a good half of football for a Vikings team looking to rebound from a tough loss. Taking a 16-7 lead into the break, and getting the ball first in the second half, is about as good as we could’ve hoped for.