|Vikes survive wacky game with much-needed victory|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 07 October 2008 12:51|
Escape from devastating defeat on a night when the Saints did everything they could to give the game away showed, in a strange way, a certain resiliency that could serve the Vikings well the rest of the season.
``You have to hang in there,'' center Matt Birk said Tuesday, reflecting on the 30-27 win over New Orleans. ``It's good to beat a good team on the road to get the win and bounce back like that. There's plenty of adversity. They made some fantastic plays, obviously, but to be able to have that resolve and win it in the end? That's huge. Hopefully we'll continue to do that.''
For the glass-half-empty crowd, the section of the Super-Bowl-starved fan base that seems to be the majority these days, the Vikings still have a startling amount of flaws after committing $62 million in guaranteed money to four players they brought in to help their run at a championship.
g accuracy and reliable receiving has yet to yield a potency under coach Brad Childress that opposing defenses must respect. Though Gus Frerotte didn't turn the ball over and threw for the tying touchdown among his 222 yards, the Saints predictably stacked up against the run and held Adrian Peterson to 32 yards on 21 carries.
``We have to be able to throw,'' Frerotte said. ``We had some bigger plays down the field, and we just have to still work on the coverages they're giving us when they're trying to commit to the run.''
Minnesota (2-3) remains last in the NFL with a 25 percent success rate (three out of 12) at putting the ball in the end zone during possessions inside the 20-yard line.
Third down efficiency is lacking, too: The Vikings have moved the chains 35.2 percent of the time in those situations, 25 out of 71 and tied for 24th in the league.
``You put yourself in obvious downs. You put yourself in passing downs where everybody in the place knows you're going to pass it. That makes it a little bit tougher to operate,'' Childress said.
Giving up the deep passes is still a concern as well, though New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has been playing superbly this season and has as sharp a touch as there is in the sport.
wo touchdowns on punt returns of 64 and 71 yards, and kick coverages have been spotty all season. Childress directed much of his anger at punter Chris Kluwe for failing to put the ball out of bounds and safely away from Bush.
``You have to be able to kick the ball where you want to kick the ball,'' Childress said, adding: ``We've got a ton of stuff that we can correct, and I expect us to correct it, because the punt returners are pretty good in this league.''
The Vikings, though, have reasons to feel good about where they're at. They host winless Detroit on Sunday and visit division-leading Chicago on Oct. 19 before their bye, two prime opportunities to position themselves for the second half in this up-for-grabs NFC North.
-Bryant McKinnie was back at left tackle following his four-game suspension and held up relatively well. ``He got bulled maybe once or twice, but I thought stamina was good,'' Childress said. ``I think I mentioned last night that I didn't have to call his name very much.''
-Bernard Berrian caught six passes for 110 yards, including the tying touchdown with 7:10 left. So what if it came while running the wrong route? He posted the first 100-yard game by a receiver since Troy Williamson on Sept. 17, 2006.
hat was tapping out,'' Childress said.
-The defense was its usual opportunistic self, led by human highlight reel Antoine Winfield. The 5-foot-9 cornerback plucked a blocked field goal out of the air and ran 59 yards for a score; he sacked Brees and stole the ball from him in the same motion to set up a touchdown by the offense; and he recorded five tackles for loss.
Winfield was the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.