Week 6: Vikings vs. Ravens

Even before I saw today’s quote from Jared Allen I was going to open this post with “It’s better to be lucky than good”.

Twice now the Vikings have run up a big lead only to let their opponent get back into the game by playing incredibly poor defense.

I was at the game on Sunday and was surprised how poorly Joe Flacco played for three quarters. I had assumed the he and Todd Heap would have a huge day against the Vikings Tampa-2 defense, but Flacco consistently tried to work the outside of the field instead of over the middle. Had they attacked the middle I believe they would have won the game. Heap only had 3 catches, and it wasn’t because he was covered.

On the other side, the Vikings kicked 4 field goals when on 3 of those drives they should have been more aggressive in the play calling to get a touchdown. The final offensive drive illustrates this well. The Vikings got into Baltimore territory with a 58 yard pass to Rice. After that play they called:
Peterson up the middle (-2 yards)
Peterson off left tackle (3 yards)
Peterson off right guard (3 yards)

The same thing happened on the previous scoring drive when the Vikings got into scoring positions after a 58 yard run by Peterson:
Taylor right end (1 yard)
Taylor up the middle (4 yards)
Throw to Peterson out of the backfield (-2 yards and Peterson gets injured)

Everyone knew that the Vikings needed touchdowns instead of field goals, including Childress.

According to John Clayton of ESPN:
Favre had a funny exchange with Vikings coach Brad Childress late in the victory over the Ravens. Childress came over and told him that momentum was shifting to the Ravens and the Vikings needed to finish drives with touchdowns. Favre said his response was: \”No s—, Sherlock.\”

If that was the case, perhaps Childress should have told Darrell Bevell instead. The obscenely conservative play calls nearly (and should have) bit the Vikings in the butt.

Of course the thought may have been to rely on the defense that had dominated the Ravens all day long, but in the fourth quarter it became apparent (as noted by Childress’ quote) that momentum had shifted and Flacco had found his stride… mostly by taking advantage of the deep middle (yet another terrible game by the Viking’s safeties) and by finding whomever Karl Paymah (in for an injured Antoine Winfield) was covering.

This has become the hallmark of the Vikings defense and Leslie Fraser needs to figure this one out before the Favre magic runs out.

Week 1 versus Cleveland: the Browns offense hadn’t generated an offensive touchdown in seven games. Late in the game (yes, during “garbage time”) Brady Quinn hits a wide receiver over the deep middle for a touchdown.

Week 3 versus San Francisco: the 49ers are down 20-17 in the 4th quarter. They hadn’t scored an offense touchdown since early in the second quarter (aided by 2 penalties). But after two deep passes got them into scoring position Shaun Hill hits Vernon Davis over the middle for a 20 yard touchdown.

Week 4 versus Green Bay: the Packers are down 30-14 Rodgers attacks the middle as he drives down the field to score a touchdown and give them a glimmer of hope. The Vikings defense continued to blitz, leaving one-on-one coverage and the middle of the field open, allowing Rodgers to drive down and get a field goal to pull within 7; making the game closer than it should have been. Had the Packers gotten that last on-side kick I have no doubt they would have taken it right down the field again.

Week 5 versus St. Louis: before the fourth quarter Rams only scoring drive was off a Favre interception resulting in a field goal. But in the fourth quarter (again, one could argue “garbage time”) the Vikings allowed the lowly Rams to march down the field in 3:16 to score a touchdown.

Week 6 versus Baltimore: the Ravens only scoring drive in the first half foreshadowed what we would see later. With only 1:47 left on the clock before halftime, and starting at their own 18, Flacco led the Ravens down the field with big play going against Karl Paymah with 6 seconds left to move it from a 52 yard field goal attempt to a 41 yard field goal. The Ravens started to get more offensive traction in the third quarter when Flacco found Heap down the middle for 23 yards and then the Ravens followed that up by catching the Vikings off guard and allowing Ray Rice to scamper 22 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter all three Raven touchdown drives had plays over 30 yards.

Looking at it another way; here is the breakdown of scoring by quarter by the Vikings opponents:


Looking at the second quarter, that number is inflated a bit due to three big plays. The first was Cleveland running a punt back just before halftime. The second was San Francisco blocking a Longwell field goal and returning it for a touchdown as the half expired. And the third was Adrian Peterson getting stripped of the ball in Green Bay and having it returned for a touchdown. It’s clear, in terms of the Viking’s defense giving up points, that the fourth quarter is a huge problem. It’s also clear that the defense has the talent to dominate teams, so that leads me to believe that there is a scheme problem.

I haven’t noticed the Vikings moving into a prevent defense late in games, but they have loosened up a little bit. Mostly it seems that the safety and linebacker play has been sub-par; but have they been out of position due to poor choice by the player or by the coaches?

If I knew the answer to that I would be working in professional football, and not in professional adult babysitting. Let’s hope Leslie and team can figure that one out sooner rather than later.

Skol Vikings!







3 responses to “Week 6: Vikings vs. Ravens”

  1. wadE Avatar

    I forgot to mention how the Karma Police punished the Ravens on Sunday. After the Ravens took the lead late in the game the crowd was near silent… stunned. So when the Ravens kickoff team took the field several of the them taunted the crowd.
    No surprise they missed that kick… Karma is a bitch…

  2. wadE Avatar

    I also forgot to mention what was the worst halftime “show” I have ever seen in my life.
    The game was sponsored by the state of South Dakota. There were posters everywhere, the handouts at the gate were those spring-loaded banners (they look like two scrolls that you pull apart to show a banner) that said Go Vikes on one side and South Dakota on the other.
    Anyway, South Dakota was really pimping their pheasant hunting. For the halftime “show” they had a guy dressed up in a pheasant suit in the middle of the field and they had two guys blindfolded in opposite endzones. The crowd on each end of the field was to cheer and boo their respective blindfolded guy to guide him to the pheasant in the middle. The first one to touch the pheasant would win a pheasant hunting trip with Chad Greenway in SD.
    I assumed the guys would eventually make their way to midfield and this would be over quickly… however, what I didn’t realize is that the pheasant would move. So once they got near midfield the guy in the pheasant costume ran off, which left these two guys wandering around in the middle groping wildly (ok, one funny moment was one guy briefly trying to grab a cheerleader instead of the pheasant). Eventually they closed in and grabbed the pheasant… almost at the same time. They announced the winner and that was another 4 minutes of my life I would never get back.
    The clincher is that during a break in the 3rd quarter the PA got on the mic and said that they did a video replay of the halftime chase and then they showed a grainy Zapruder-like video of the other guy touching the pheasant first…
    I wish I was making this up…

  3. alex Avatar

    Now if the prize had been pheasant hunting IN the Corn Palace, well, then they might have had something. But probably not.

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