Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 3 Win over the 49ers

POSITION GRADES

Offensive Line

Grade: A

  • sacks allowed – 0

No sacks allowed on any given day is quite an accomplishment, and this was against the very good defensive front seven of the 49ers. A lot of the credit for this performance should be shared with Christian Ponder, who did a great job of avoiding the rush when necessary and getting the ball out quickly.

The offensive line wasn’t without its struggles though. Brandon Fusco and Matt Kalil had less than stellar days dealing with the pass rush of the Niners, giving up four quarterback hurries each. A few slower throws or less slippery moves by Ponder and the stat sheet (and possibly the game) look a whole lot different.

  • Rushing yards gained – 146 yards on 41 carries (3.6 yards/carry)

The Vikings said all week they were going to play Vikings football and run the ball. Well, they sure did that. The run game wasn’t overly productive against a talented 49ers defense, but the gameplan sent a strong message, and our runners cranked out enough yards to keep the chains moving, wear down the defense and continue to eat up the clock. The holes started to open up a little more in the second half, but overall, the Vikings line was overmatched in the run game by San Francisco’s front-seven. Overmatched, but not defeated.

 

Wide Receiver

Grade: B

  • Percy Harvin – 9 rec, 89 yards (11 targets), 1 carry, 9 yards

Another wonderful performance by Percy where he was literally the only worthwhile wide receiver out there. It kind of makes you wonder why defenses don’t just put at least three guys on Percy from the moment he lines up on the line of scrimmage and put their worst defenders one-on-one on everyone else…Crap, did I just give away the secret to shutting down our offense?

I can’t wait to watch Jerome Simpson play against the Lions Sunday. I don’t know what to expect, I doubt he will be as good as some people are saying, but he will certainly be better than this.

See Jenkins, Michael.

 

Tight End

Sep 23, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) celebrates his touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome. Vikings win 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Grade: B-

He’s a threat all over the field, but Ponder really looks to Rudolph in the red zone. Not that it’s bad, they clearly have a good chemistry that produces points, but Rudolph could be an 8-10 reception, 100-yard guy, not just a red-zone threat. Maybe with the addition of Jerome Simpson, the field can open up more and Ponder can find Rudolph a little more often outside of the red zone.

3 games, 2 targets, 0 catches, $11 million guaranteed.

Wait..What?

 

Running Back

Grade: C+

  • Adrian Peterson – 25 carries, 86 yards, 3.4 yds/carry, 1 fumble, 2 rec, 21 yards (4 targets)

Adrian had a very unspectacular day of short runs and next to no holes to speak of. Granted, I’m speaking in terms of AD-production, not normal-running-back-production. I’m sure that was a frustrating day for Peterson, but 86 yards against a stifling Niners defense is nothing to scoff at. And I’m sure his backup would kill for a day like this.

  • Toby Gerhart – 8 carries, 18 yards, 2.3 yds/carry, 3 fumbles, 2 rec, 20 yards (4 targets)

Speaking of backups, Toby should be Matt Asiata’s. Three fumbles on eight carries. Three fumbles coming out of a four-play stretch. Three fumbles in 38 seconds of consecutive possession time by the Vikings. All while the Vikings are up by 11 points with less than 4 minutes to play and trying to hold on to win the game. Bravo.

 

Quarterback

Sep 23, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) points during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Grade: A

  • Christian Ponder – 21 for 35, 198 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 94.7, 7 carries, 33 yards, 1 TD

Not the most incredible day for Ponder stat-wise, but a really great day overall. He lead the Vikings to a huge win over a very good team. Ponder took what the defense was giving him and, with the exception of one hideous throw to Jenkins that should have been an easy pick, Ponder didn’t force anything down the field. Overall, Ponder made the plays he needed to make and avoided the mistakes he needed to avoid. Plus, one really surprising (and oddly fast) 23-yard touchdown run never hurt.

PonderWatch

Ponder’s first and second down completion percentage goal: 75%

Weekly first and second down completion percentage:

  • Week 1 vs. Jacksonville: 17-20, 85%
  • Week 2 at Indianapolis: 18-23, 78%
  • Week 3 vs. San Franscisco: 15-25, 60%
YTD first and second down completion percentage: 50-68, 74%

 

WEEK 3 OFFENSIVE MVP

After two straight weeks at the top, Percy Harvin has finally lost his weekly MVP status. Ponder’s play was paramount to this game’s outcome. Without the usual benefit of a much stronger running game, Ponder made all the throws of a seasoned veteran against a great defense. The Vikings offense regularly found themselves in third-and-long situations because of the failing running game and Ponder was 6 for 10 on third down. Ponder threw for two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph and ran for another, and the best part: no turnovers.

 

OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

There’s no better way to start a game than by driving all the way down the field and finishing with a 7-0 lead.

Scratch that, there’s one way to make it better: go for it on fourth down from the 1-yard line and complete a ridiculous touch pass in the corner of the end zone to your tight end.

The offensive play of the game was:

View Results

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ROOKIE WATCH

Matt Kalil

Struggled a little on passing downs (4 QB hurries) against the best defense he has seen so far, but considering the caliber of the Niners’ defense and the fact that Kalil didn’t give up a sack, it’s hard to be disappointed.

Blair Walsh

Only had one field-goal attempt, but it was a 52-yarder that he drilled.

Matt Asiata

Didn’t contribute. Will hopefully get an opportunity to be Adrian’s backup Sunday against Detroit. Toby Gerhart deserves a benching for a game after that performance.

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?!

Part 1

September 16, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh yells towards the field during action against the Detroit Lions in the first quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Lions 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Harbaugh was given five timeouts in the second half. Five.

With 3:30 left in the game, the 49ers had one timeout left. Harbaugh used it to give himself more time to look at a replay to see if Gerhart fumbled (he did, of course). At this point, the Niners are out of timeouts. Then, Harbaugh proceeds to challenge the call (which he can’t do), and the refs allow him to revert the timeout into a challenge opportunity (which they can’t do). That’s number four, the first extra timeout. Since Harbaugh “won” the challenge, it doesn’t cost him a timeout, so the refs give it back to him. That’s number five and the second extra timeout, which he later uses to challenge another play.

Sickening.

Part 2

The Vikings used play-action on 16 of Ponder’s 22 dropbacks from under center. That’s a whole lotta play action. Of course, they also ran the ball 41 times. Anything to try to create some sort of separation for our D-list wide receivers.

Part 3

I have been giving Bill Musgrave a lot of flack for his gameplans, strategies and lack of playcalling chops, so it seems only fair to give him credit when his offense performs well, especially against a great defense. The playcalling was solid, the Vikings got the ball to Percy, they stuck with the run, which allowed play-action passing and avoided turnovers (minus Toby Gerhart, who is indefinitely planted in my doghouse).

But I’m just not generous enough to continue with this lovefest.

What was Leslie Frazier thinking taking Adrian out at the end of the game and then keeping him out despite Gerhart’s ridiculous fumbles? I understand preserving AD, but after the second fumble, you gotta sit the kid, Frazier. Put in Asiata if you must, but anyone who fumbles two times in three carries doesn’t deserve the fourth carry…and the corresponding third fumble.

 

 

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  • Brian

    Really tired of hearing about Ponder’s “bad pass” to Jenkins. Ponder was back peddling in the face of 3 rushers and floated a perfect pass exactly to where Jenkins was….on his belly. Jenkins doesn’t fall down, that’s a completion or incompletion at worst. If it were an INT, it would have gone on Ponder’s stats, but the blame all on Jenkins.