Adrian Peterson told Brad Childress he wanted to be fed. And he wasn’t talking about whipping up a batch of Brett Favre‘s favorite jambalaya.
After a frustrating first game that saw Peterson barely touch the ball in the second half, Childress decided to finally listen to his all-world running back, and let the feeding commence. The result? Over the last two games, Peterson has carried the ball 51 times for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns, and has caught 10 passes for 71 yards. Sunday, the Feed Adrian approach resulted in 190 total yards, 2 TDs including a stunning 80-yarder…and the Vikings’ first win of the season.
The Vikings needed every one of Peterson’s 160 rushing yards yesterday, because the passing game was still not where everyone wants it to be. Outside of Percy Harvin, who caught 6 Favre passes for 62 yards and a score, the receiver corps still isn’t in sync with the quarterback. After the game, Favre acknowledged that he and the passing game still have a long way to go.
“We’re not near as good as we were last year,” Favre said. “I’m reluctant to say not very good and I’m talking about me and the passing game. I’m not talking about anyone else. We have to figure out a way to do it or it’s going to be a tough road. I hope we figure that out. There better be some urgency.”
Favre and the passing attack were certainly not helped when, on the game’s first play, starting center John Sullivan went down with a leg injury, forcing Ryan Cook to enter the game (back-up center Jon Cooper was inactive). Cook ended up doing an adequate job despite the tough circumstances. The same can’t be said for right tackle Phil Loadholt who continued to consistently get beaten on speed rushes, resulting in a somewhat harrowing afternoon for the less-than-mobile Favre. Loadholt further compounded things by getting called for two false start penalties.
Overall, the line surrendered 5 QB hits and 2 sacks. One of the hits on Favre resulted in an attempted pass popping straight up and being intercepted. On the flip side, the line blocked well enough for Adrian Peterson to run for 160 yards…but of course a lot of that was Adrian himself. He showed some of the old breakaway speed on his 80-yard run, and throughout the game, demonstrated a greater patience in picking holes and setting up blocks. And, for the third straight game, he didn’t fumble.
It wasn’t all roses and rainbows for Peterson however. Early in the game, he flat-out missed on a third down pass from Favre that, had he caught it, would’ve easily resulted in a first down. Peterson did end up second on the team with 5 receptions, but even so, his impact on the passing game was not what it could’ve been. Peterson needs to stop whiffing on easy tosses from Favre if he wants Brett and Brad Childress to develop any trust in him as a ball-catcher.
And that leads us now to the ever-troublesome subject of the Vikings receiver corps. Percy Harvin is the only one who gets a passing grade for Sunday, after leading the team in catches and scoring a touchdown (on a play where the Lions‘ coverage was more busted than Courtney Love’s face). Visanthe Shiancoe gets an incomplete because he pulled a hammy and ended up with only 1 catch. Bernard Berrian, once again, gets a fail…though, truth be told, on the one play where he had a chance to make a big impact, a long pass down the sideline, Favre overthrew him. The newest Viking Hank Baskett gets a fail for dropping a quick hitch from Favre and whiffing on a long heave into the end zone that he should’ve caught. Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis both get at best a red smiley face…though Camarillo did make some nice runs on punt returns, and had one long return wiped out by a penalty.
Favre’s numbers tell the story best: 23/34 for 201 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs…okay but not great, if you’re willing to give him a pass on the one INT where his arm was hit. Despite his best efforts, Favre was still unable to hit on any deep passes. His accuracy overall was better than last week against the Dolphins, but it still wasn’t what you would call laser-like. Of course, at times, his line didn’t give him any help, and his receivers dropped some easy balls. And, for much of the game, his favorite target Shank was not on the field. The best news for Brett is that, every week that goes by, Sidney Rice gets one week closer to returning.
Thank goodness for the Vikings’ run game…or, as Brett called it during the post-game presser, “our Adrian.”