Series: Vikings lead 16-10
Last meeting(s): Atlanta kept the Vikings from clinching a playoff berth with a 24-17 win at the Metrodome in Week 16 of 2008. This was in the middle probably the most positive stretch of Tarvaris Jackson’s career in Minnesota. He was making his second start since “taking over” for Gus Frerotte in Week 14 and had had perhaps his best game ever against Arizona the previous week. Against Atlanta, Jackson was 22-36 for 233 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 yards, but fumbled once in the redzone. Fumbles were the theme of the game: the Vikings fumbled seven times in the game and lost four of them—Adrian Peterson lost one in the redzone and bungled a handoff from Jackson that was recovered by Atlanta. Minnesota scored 10 fourth quarter points to get within seven, then forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. Jackson threw to Bobby Wade for ten yards on a 2nd and 7, but couldn’t complete another pass as the Vikings ran out of downs and time. Chicago pulled even with the Vikings with a win over the Packers on Monday Night Football, but Minnesota clinched the NFC North by beating the Giants in Week 17 (Chicago lost anyway). Heady times in Vikings history, eh?
Streak(s): Starting in 1996, Atlanta and Minnesota have traded wins over an eight-game span. The 1996 game was the final win in a 10-2 run by the Vikings that stretched back to 1974. The most famous meeting was the 1998 NFC Championship, which the Falcons won in overtime, but the teams also met in the weird 16-team 1982 playoffs. Minnesota won that one. There was also the unforgettable (I’m sure we’ve all tried) overtime touchdown run by Michael Vick in 2002.
Minnesota’s last win in Atlanta came in 2003. Down 20-12 at halftime, the Vikings outscored Atlanta 27-6 in the second half for a 39-26 win. Randy Moss and Moe Williams each had two touchdowns and Onterrio Smith added 63 yards rushing to Williams’ 71. Brian Russell and Chris Claiborne each intercepted Doug Johnson and the famous defensive end-tandem of Kenny Mixon and Lance Johnstone each had two sacks (one each). Atlanta committed two penalties in their endzone, both resulting in safeties.
New Guys Part II: Last week, a few key offensive players made their first starts against the Raiders. This week, Percy Harvin, Christian Ponder, and Toby Gerhart (maybe?) will make their first starts against the Falcons.
Peterson: We mentioned Peterson’s fumbling problems the last time Minnesota faced the Falcons, but his stats against Atlanta are pretty good overall. He scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 1 against the Falcons in 2007, a 60-yard catch from Tarvaris Jackson that basically put the game away for Minnesota. He also ran for 103 yards that day. In 2008, he ran for 76 yards and chipped in 16 receiving yards.
For all of Week 12′s matchups, check out Brad’s blog.