Sunday, October 7, 2012

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 30, Titans 7

Today was a combination of a dominant performance by the Vikings against a team that was (today, anyway) utterly terrible. One needs only to look at the averages to see that this game was dominated at the line of scrimmage by the Vikings. The Titans averaged 4.2 yards per pass attempt and 2.7 yards per rush attempt, while the Vikings averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt and 5.6 yards per rush attempt. To put this in another (pointless) way, the Vikings out-passed the Titans by 3.2 yards per play, and out-ran them 2.9 yards per play.

The Viking offensive line asserted its will in this game, opening up some massive holes for Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Toby Gerhart (it's not often that a RB gets a run up the middle untouched near the line of scrimmage: there were plays today where Titan defenders were barely on the screen during runs up the middle) and ensuring that Christian Ponder was rarely threatened by any pass rush. This is where we should mention the Titan defense is terrible.

And the Viking defense was incredible. The front seven was totally dominant: smothering the run game, rushing the passer, tipping passes, making tackles. It's also truly amazing that today we watched the third consecutive good game by the secondary. It's hard to even credit a single defensive back: so many of the individual players made stand-out plays: tight coverage, deflected passes, well-timed hits, effective tackles. The reason we could feel more comfortable than usual with a lead today was that the Titans never even really threatened to mount an offense. In the end, they had no pass completions longer than 18 yards.

Christian Ponder's interceptions today should not concern us overmuch or change our opinion of him: frankly, they gave me something like relief. Ponder has thrown balls off of too many defender's hands already this season, and that luck was going to run out. Ponder was (and still is) going to be intercepted, and I'd rather see those picks in a game the Vikings are able to control anyway. I actually liked Ponder's performance a lot today: the 49er game was still his best of the year, but this was second. He picks his spots to run extremely well--much better than last year. And today he completed a lot of mid-range passes. I like seeing a QB that can complete passes to receivers that are past the first down marker, and today Ponder regularly did. I continue to believe the Vikes can't compete week-to-week throwing a majority of their passes around the line of scrimmage. That doesn't mean they have to go all Tecmo Super Bowl and chuck it deep constantly: it means they'll have to do what they did today, efficiently completing passes 10-15 yards downfield. Here we ought to mention again that the Titan defense is terrible.

The Vikings did things a playoff contender should do. They overcame sloppy play to dominate an inferior opponent (in the numbers and on the scoreboard). When they had a lead, they went for the kill instead of trying to sit on it. It really looks like they are building something. And they even made me slightly complacent as a fan today. What, I don't have to pace around during the fourth quarter? I don't have to stand up and stare at the TV until the end? I don't have to jump and holler? I don't have to feel euphoria at the end: quiet satisfaction is fine?

Skol, friends. We'll be trailing clouds of heaven all week.


  1. Harvin for MVP!!!

  2. Next 5 games -
    @ Washington Redskins w/out RGIII?
    Arizona Cardinals
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    @ Seattle Seahawks
    Detroit Lions

    1. FSS:

      At this point, I would rather the Vikings face a Washington team on the road with RGIII rather than getting their backup Cousins. Might as well see if we can beat teams when they've got their best in he lineup. The Vikings will have to do that eventually, especially if they (don't say it!) make the playoffs.

  3. Opened up the passing a little bit. Spread the ball around enough to not be predictable. Harvin is very good and from many angles.
    4-1, some games upcoming they "should" win. Now, they have to prove the "can" win those.

    1. Anon 8:24 p.m:

      The Vikings aren't going to win all of their "winnable" games. A 6-2 record after these three games would be nice. The Tampa game will be tricky with so little time to prepare for the Bucs as it is a Thursday night game. The same holds true for the Bucs, but still that could be Upset City.

    2. I like that the Thursday game and the game before are both at home for the Vikings. Hopefully the pass rush will put Arizona (week 7) on its heels early and their running game (whatever that may mean by then) won't have a chance to wear out the defense much.

      Then the team could have the best short-week scenario I can think of: a win at home in which they dominate the time of possession battle followed by hosting a nationally televised game with a rowdy crowd inside the Thunderdome. The "they haven't beaten Tampa Bay since they were in the NFC Central division together" angle will get worked and could make a good story as the Vikings get another emotional win..?

      Then 10 days to prepare to go play in the intimidating Seattle environment. If they have to play a Thursday game, this is a pretty good way to do it.

  4. Peter:

    It's fun to be writing about these scenarios and talking about the Vikings being "favored" in games after the past two seasons. Best-case scenario after five games for me was 3-2. Now they've raised the bar in expectations a bit for me. The confidence seems pretty high right now. It can evaporate just as quickly with a couple of losses. I'm enjoying the ride so far.