Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 4 Win over the Lions



Offensive Line

Grade: A

  • Sacks allowed – 2 sacks, 11 yards

What a difference a year (and a franchise left tackle) makes. McNabb, Ponder and Webb were running for their lives last year. Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch were a high priority concern last year. This year? Barely even relevant. Sure, the Lions got two sacks, but Ponder had all the time in the world to throw (although he seemed quite flustered anyway, memories from last year?), and if Ponder would have had any receivers to throw to, this game would have been an UGLY loss for the Lions.

  • Rushing yards gained – 127 yards on 28 carries (4.5 yards/carry)

The gates kept opening for AP, who eagerly ran through them. It was the kind of day that you would have liked to see AP get 30+ touches because it seemed he would get 10+ yards every other run.

Wide Receiver

Grade: B-

  • Percy Harvin – 3 rec, 22 yards (6 targets), 3 carries, 12 yards, 1 KR TD

Harvin got the Vikings off to a great start by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, a lead the Vikings never relinquished. Other than that, though, it was a pretty quiet day for Percy. He had season lows of receptions, yards and targets. The Lions clearly made it a point to take Percy away (five targets in the first half, just one target in the second half), and the Vikings offense sputtered to the tune of zero touchdowns. The Lions just drew up the blueprint for stopping the Viking offense. Hopefully Bill Musgrave can dream up a response.

Sep 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81) makes a catch against Detroit Lions cornerback Bill Bentley (28) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Vikings defeat the Lions 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

It was actually a great first game for Simpson. He knew the playbook, he was in tune with Ponder and he was a much better option than Jenkins or Aromashodu. He contributed more than the stats show – he drew a 31-yard pass interference penalty in the first quarter and a 26-yard pass interference penalty in the second quarter, and both of those drives led to field goals. The Vikings didn’t shy away from Simpson in the big moments either. He caught two balls on the Vikings final drive when they were trying to bleed out the clock and end the game.

Jenkins left the game early with a rib contusion and returned a while later, but was mostly irrelevant. It wasn’t the best passing day for the Vikings anyway, but Jenkins will hardly be able to expect much better than this on a regular basis, he is the fourth passing option on a run-first team.

Tight End

Grade: F

Rudolph wasn’t even targeted until the second half, at which point, he caught both his receptions on the same drive and disappeared again. Considering how intent the Lions were at taking Percy Harvin away, you would think the Vikings would just keep shoving Kyle Rudolph down their throats. Then again, you would think it wouldn’t take an entire half for Rudolph to be targeted in the first place, so who knows.

Hurrah! John Carlson gets his first reception! It’s like Christmas! I CAN’T WAIT TO OPEN THE NEXT…oh.


Running Back

Grade: A

Sep 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs through the arms of Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) towards linebacker DeAndre Levy (54)during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Vikings defeat the Lions 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

Adrian Peterson – 21 carries, 102 yards, 4.9 yds/carry, 4 rec, 20 yards (4 targets)

Simply put, Peterson had an awesome day. He was running angry, and it was his best game yet this season in total yards, yards/carry and receptions. It felt like Adrian was on the verge of breaking a big one with each run he had before just getting tackled by the last line of defense. I would have liked to see Adrian get the ball more considering how well he was running, but 21 carries is not a bad day by any means.

  • Toby Gerhart – 3 carries, 8 yards, 2.7 yds/carry, 1  rec, 8 yards (1 target)

No fumbles, Toby. That’a kid. And you had three whole carries! Bravo!




Grade: D+

  • Christian Ponder – 16 for 26, 111 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 71.2 , 1 carry, 5 yards

Completion percentage was way down. Yards were way, way down. Not the best day for Ponder. He had one great touch throw to Jerome Simpson for 27 yards in the fourth quarter, and he didn’t have any boneheaded throws. Ponder seemed very flustered in the pocket, often only looking at his first option before running it or throwing it away. He was gun-shy, but there wasn’t any real pressure to speak of. On one play in particular, Ponder took the shotgun snap on 3rd down early in the fourth quarter, stood for maybe two seconds, scrambled to the right without any pressure forcing him there and promptly threw an incomplete pass. It was an odd game for Ponder, who hasn’t been anxiously anticipating the rush all season. Maybe the game tape on Detroit from last year got into his head.

I’m not going to say he “managed the game” because I hate that term, it’s a roundabout excuse for bad quarterback play, but in a game that could have easily been lost with any turnover, Ponder avoided the mistakes and allowed his team to take the W.


Ponder’s first and second down completion percentage goal75%

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 Francisco: 15-25, 60%
  • Week 4 at Detroit: 9-16, 56%

YTD first and second down completion percentage: 59-84, 70%


Week 4 OMVP was a tough call for two reasons: 1) the offense was quite mediocre for the most part and never even scored a touchdown and 2) I wanted to give it to two guys, but you can’t really have two MOST valuable players, can you?

Sep 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (12) runs the kickoff back for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Percy Harvin

His opening kickoff touchdown was a huge momentum swing and the kind of thing we needed to immediately take the Detroit crowd out of the game. Although Percy’s stats weren’t stellar, it’s clear his mere presence changed the game as the Lions did everything they could to take him away, which opened up holes for everyone else (and maybe one day, the rest of the offense can start using those opportunities to, you know, actually gain yards or score touchdowns).

Honorable Mention: Adrian Peterson

Adrian’s back, and the world can finally be right again. Week 4 was Adrian’s first 100-yard game in almost a year (his last was against Green Bay on October 23, 2011). This was also Peterson’s 28th 100-yard game (is that like the golden 100-yard game?). Only Robert Smith (29) has more in Vikings team history.

No, honorable mention isn’t a cop-out. I’m just honorably mentioning him because he…okay, yeah, it’s a cop-out.


Percy Harvin’s 105-yard kickoff return TD

It’s only right that the offensive play of the game comes from the offensive player of the game. Percy’s touchdown set the tone for the entire game and took the crowd out of it from the very beginning. Huge.


Matt Kalil

The offensive line played very well against a very good Lions defensive line, and Matt Kalil was a big part of that.

Blair Walsh

He finally missed a field-goal attempt. But he’s 9-10 so far this year with five field goals over 40 yards. He also has 20 touchbacks in four games. The Vikings had 19 all last year.

Matt Asiata

I’m more than disappointed that Asiata didn’t get a shot to be Adrian’s backup for at least one game after Toby’s embarrassing three-fumble performance in Week 3.


Part 1

The Week 4 win over the Lions marked the first road win for the Vikings in the NFC North since Brett Favre and the Vikings went to Lambeau Field for Favre’s first game against the Packers on Nov. 1, 2009.

Part 2 – Adrian the Lion tamer

Adrian Peterson has rushed for six 100-yard games against the Lions, the most of any opponent.

Part 3

Adrian had 21 carries against the Lions. How many of those were in between the tackles? 21.

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