December 6, 2010

Vikings win in Turnover Bowl

Yesterday’s game in Minneapolis wasn’t expected to be very entertaining: a 2-9 team visiting an out-of-conference 4-7 team isn’t quite ratings gold. The turnovers started early in the game, as Brett Favre went down to a backside hit while throwing, putting the ball up for grabs. Buffalo got the ball and, at least for a few minutes, the momentum.

Favre was injured and Tarvaris Jackson came in to start the next series. Jackson threw an interception that Buffalo ran back for the first score of the game.

After that, it got entertaining — if you were a Vikings fan, anyway.

A month ago, the play that transpired with 4 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter Sunday would have led to the Vikings’ undoing.

Tarvaris Jackson, in place of injured Brett Favre, threw a pass that Buffalo cornerback Drayton Florence stepped in front of and returned 40 yards for a touchdown and a seven-point lead. Under Brad Childress, that would have been a “here we go again” moment.

But under interim coach Leslie Frazier, Florence’s touchdown ended up as a footnote following the Vikings’ 38-14 demolition of a Bills team that looked every bit a bad as its 2-10 record at Mall of America Field.

Favre’s injury was reported as a sprained sternoclavicular joint and he’ll undergo an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage. Interim head coach Leslie Frazier said that if Favre could play next week, he’d play — that is, there’s no quarterback controversy here.

Rookie Chris DeGeare made his first start, replacing Steve Hutchinson, and only got mentioned for a false start penalty. That’s good: when you don’t hear the names of your offensive linemen, that usually means that they’re doing a good job. Also on the injury list were Percy Harvin and Ray Edwards. Adrian Peterson was a game-time decision with his sprained ankle from last week (he played, gained 107 yards and scored 3 touchdowns).

Sidney Rice played a great game — he’s finally back in 2009 form, going over 100 yards receiving and scoring two TDs. He clearly was the missing element in the first half of the season.

Joe Webb, the Vikings’ third string quarterback was on the active roster for the first time this season, as a receiver/kick returner, but injured his hamstring and left the game. Running back Toby Gerhart was the replacement KR (replacing Webb, who was playing in place of Harvin). This might have created a problem if Jackson had been injured, as neither Favre nor Webb could go back into the game. Luckily, the issue didn’t arise.

It seemed like a good idea, but Webb’s day ended in the first quarter when he suffered a pulled right hamstring while playing on a punt return.

“I was expecting a lot” of action at receiver, Webb said. “The coaches told me during the week. We had a couple of banged-up guys and they were going to need me to lineup there. I just had my chance to do a couple of things. My [hamstring] just gave out on me but it’ll be all right.”

Frazier acknowledged the Vikings had a “package” of plays for Webb.

Webb’s athletic ability is such that the Vikings decided to give him his first-ever reps on kickoff returns Friday and then trusted him enough to have him return Sunday’s first kick. Webb took the ball 30 yards to the Vikings 35.

“I was trying to pop it out,” he said. “That was my first time ever running a kickoff return. Now that I’ve got a chance to see it and know how I can read it up, I’m sure the next one will be a lot different.”

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