Adrian Peterson carried the ball 28 times yesterday for 145 yards…but all anyone wants to talk about is his last touch, when he was tackled short of the goal line on fourth down to end the Vikings‘ last legit scoring chance.
Actually, that carry was Peterson’s sixth straight on the same drive, which began on the Miami 24 after E.J. Henderson recovered Ronnie Brown‘s fumble. Peterson began that series with two runs for a total of 14 yards and a first down, then ran it for six to give the Vikings second-and-goal on the 4.
Rather than let Brett Favre try to pass the Vikings into the end zone there, Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell elected to hand off to Peterson three more times. He was stuffed on second down, got 3 yards on third down, and then – as we well-remember – was stymied on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Dolphins with the score still 14-10 Miami and only 2:16 left on the clock.
In his press conference today, Brad Childress talked about the decision to hand off five straight times in the red zone, taking the game out of the hands of his Hall-of-Fame quarterback and placing the onus firmly on his offensive line, which has a bad habit of not getting a big enough push in short yardage situations (as evidenced by a play earlier in the game when Naufahu Tahi was stuffed on fourth down). Said Chilly, simply, “I thought the line was lathered up.”
And, in Chilly’s defense, the running back was having a pretty good game up to that point.
Unfortunately, Chilly’s explanation doesn’t entirely fly, for one simple reason: His quarterback has almost 500 career touchdown passes. I imagine most coaches would give the guy at least one chance to make a play?
Of course, earlier in the game, that same quarterback failed to connect with Percy Harvin in a goal line situation, resulting in a pick. And there was that other interception on the Miami 2, on a ball Favre appeared to force to Bernard Berrian.
That’s enough to make a coach lose trust in his quarterback and receivers…and that loss of trust may have had as much to do with the conservative play calling as Childress’s assessment of the offensive line’s latheriness.
But of course, Chilly would never admit that, because to do so would mean openly criticizing his quarterback. And Childress realizes that any open dissing of Favre is liable to lead to more schism talk, if not an actual outright schism – with Favre and most of the team on one side and himself and Bevell all alone on the other.