October 5, 2015

Broncos beat Vikings 23-20 in Denver

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Let me say right up front, despite my team ending up on the wrong side of the score, this was a good game. The Vikings took the shots, but stayed competitive right up to the final drive, and with only a bit more luck (Blair Walsh’s first field goal attempt), the game was still winnable for either team right down to the wire. The stats may not be gaudy, but the Vikings showed that they are much improved from last year and the Broncos are probably very relieved to get the win.

Playing in Denver is tough for visiting teams, but the Vikings did almost enough to win the game on Sunday. Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs got his first regular season snaps and did a lot of good things in his first opportunity (six catches for 87 yards, but needs to work on keeping control of the ball once he makes the catch). Safety Harrison Smith again showed why he should be high on everyone’s list for this year’s Pro Bowl voting (except for probably getting an unwelcome envelope from the league over a helmet-to-helmet tackle on a Denver receiver), and despite being under siege pretty much all game (taking seven sacks, including the strip-sack to end the game), quarterback Teddy Bridgewater showed that he has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was clearly in the crosshairs of the officials, as he drew more than his fair share of flags during the game, some justified but some ticky-tacky.


September 28, 2015

Vikings defeat San Diego Chargers 31-14

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Minnesota defeated the San Diego Chargers on Sunday with a dominant running game featuring regular doses of Adrian Peterson (20 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns) and a special appearance by fullback Zach Line, who now has two runs for two yards and two touchdowns in his NFL career, after getting his first career carry (and touchdown) last weekend against Detroit. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have a good game statistically (only 13 of 24 for 121 yards and a pick), but was able to keep the chains moving and keep San Diego’s Philip Rivers on the sideline. The run defence showed up for a second game in a row, holding Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon to only 51 yards rushing.

There was a scary moment during the second quarter as cornerback Xavier Rhodes had a nasty collision with safety Andrew Sendejo and was motionless on the field for a bit. When he got up with help from the training staff, he was replaced by rookie Trae Waynes for the rest of the game. Rhodes is being evaluated for a concussion and may not be available for next week’s game until after he passes the mandatory concussion protocol. Sendejo also left the game later in the second half and was replaced by Robert Blanton.

The play that put the game out of reach was a 91-yard interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Chad Greenway. I’m not saying that Greenway is a slow runner, but it might as well have been announced as “Chad … Greenway … could … go … all … the … way!” Pretty much the entire Vikings defence escorted him into the end zone. It was also accompanied by a penalty against the Vikings bench as an assistant coach collided with a game official and one or the other of them also took down head coach Mike Zimmer.

September 21, 2015

Detroit Lions visit Minnesota in search of first win, go home empty-handed

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

After the terrible performance the Vikings put on in San Francisco last Monday, all the fans were hoping to see the Vikings beat the Lions in their home opener at TCF Bank Stadium. The Lions had their own bad start last week as well, allowing 30 unanswered points after building up a three-score lead. We’re one week into the season and both teams are looking at this game as a must-win.

I watched the game on Fox, but overlaid with Winnipeg commercials … normally this isn’t really worth mentioning, but thanks to that I wasn’t abused by the DraftKings or FanDuel commercials that everyone on my Vikings Twitter list was complaining endlessly about.

The Vikings got the ball to start the game and put on a really nice long drive, capped off with a Teddy Bridgewater to Kyle Rudolph touchdown pass. Bridgewater ended the game with a stat line of 14 of 18 completions for 153 yards and a 120.6 passer rating (he also scored a rushing touchdown). Adrian Peterson got more carries for more yards in the first drive than he did in the entire first game (he also developed a fumbling problem, unfortunately). He carried the ball 29 times for 132 yards and caught two passes for 58 yards.


September 15, 2015

Monday Night Football – Vikings at San Francisco … well, that happened

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:23

Minnesota Vikings fans were very optimistic about the first game of the regular season, with hopes that Teddy Bridgewater would continue his ascent from the end of last season, excitement over Adrian Peterson returning after nearly a full year away from the game, and the promise of speedy new wide receiver Mike Wallace to stretch the field. In a few cases, that optimism might have lasted into the second quarter. Last night was a bad, bad game for the Vikings. The defensive line, supposedly a strength of the team, was giving up first downs like party favours. When the Vikings got the ball, we saw three quick incomplete passes and the punting unit came out. The offensive line was worse than advertised: at one point Teddy basically got sacked by his own right tackle as he ran for his life deep in the backfield (http://streamable.com/p0oa). It was almost as if the preseason had been extended one more game, and nobody in a Vikings jersey seemed to be mentally prepared to play a real football game.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover delivers the Stock Market Report on the game:

Blue Chip Stocks:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, you’re kidding me, right?

Well, Mike Zimmer’s press conference tomorrow might be an all time epic rant. But that’s about it.

Solid Investments:

Mike Wallace, WR: The guy that came over in a trade with Miami has to be thinking what the hell, yo? But he was about the only guy that provided an offensive spark, at least while the game was still competitive–I SEE YOU KYLE RUDOLPH.


Junk Bonds:

The Offensive Line: One of the big concerns we collectively had coming in to the season was how the offensive line would hold up. If week one was any indication, we should be having a funeral and wake for Teddy Bridgewater sometime about the third quarter in week seven. That was brutal, man. Worse than brutal. I don’t know what’s more brutal–the o-line play in week one, or Trent Dilfer on the mic. We had to endure both.

Adrian Peterson, former Gulag Prisoner: So this is a funny story. Right after my fantasy draft, I damn near traded Aaron Rodgers for AP, straight up. I hedged at the last minute, because of the o-line. I am a genius for not making that trade. Peterson wasn’t able to get anything going, except for one pretty ridiculous catch and pinball wizard run, and overall, he was quieter than than a mute in a soundproof room.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Man, I had such high hopes for Teddy coming into week one. But as the game went on, he was running for his life, and making decisions that were more questionable than a drunk teenager. I think this game is an anomaly, but still…Teddy gave me a sad.

Blair Walsh, K: I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I’m going to JUST FREAKING LOVE chewing my fingernails to the bone wondering if, on any given kick this year, Walsh might actually make it, becase right now it’s 50-50, at best. It will give us a lot of excitement in what is looking to be a possibly grim season.


September 11, 2015

“In the daily cuss-off between Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer, Turner has been the surprise winner”

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In the Star Tribune, Jim Souhan reveals the surprising result of the coaching cuss-off competition:

Norv Turner strolled through the Vikings locker room Tuesday, cursed amiably and smiled.

Well, “strolled” isn’t exactly the right word. He half-limped, half-creaked — crimped? — across the room, looking exactly like what he is — a lifelong football coach.

There is nothing glamorous about Turner, the Vikings offensive coordinator. He’s made millions in the NFL, has stood on many podiums, won many titles and coached many superstars, but if the NFL were a Batman movie, he’d be Alfred the butler — instructive and wry and comfortable behind the scenes whatever his true ambitions may be.

Well, he’d be Alfred as played by Louis C.K. Turner was blue long before he wore purple.

In the daily cuss-off between Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer, Turner has been the surprise winner. Zimmer is highly qualified in the art of language-seasoning, but he has nothing on Turner in terms of volume, frequency and creativity.

“Norv cusses a lot,” receiver Charles Johnson said.

Does the defense try to get Turner to swear in practice?

“It’s definitely a goal,” safety Harrison Smith said.

Last year, Turner had the right to swear out of frustration. This year he may get to swear in affirmation.

In 2014, Turner’s first season as the Vikings offensive coordinator, he coached with one back tied behind his back, not to mention a tight end.

Before Week 2, All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson began what would in effect become a 15-game suspension. In Week 3, starting quarterback Matt Cassel was lost for the season. All season, tight end Kyle Rudolph — who might have been the primary benefactor of Turner’s system — caught passes in only seven games.

When the coaching staff decided to treat Cordarrelle Patterson as a true pass-catching receiver instead of a wide-ranging running back, the Vikings were left with a rookie quarterback surrounded with inexperienced or unproven skill-position players.

September 7, 2015

Vikings add practice squad members for 2015

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

As with the regular season roster, there is usually some churn on the practice squad over the course of the season as players sign to the Vikings’ 53-man roster or other team rosters or the the team decides it needs to add more depth in this or that area of current weakness. As of Sunday evening, the following players were offered spots with the practice squad:

  1. DL B.J. Dubose
  2. OG Isame Faciane
  3. WR Isaac Fruechte
  4. S Anthony Harris
  5. DL Zach Moore (waived by the New England Patriots)
  6. LB Brian Peters
  7. FB Blake Renaud
  8. LB Brandon Watts
  9. RB Dominique Williams
  10. OL David Yankey

September 6, 2015

Vikings cut down to “final” roster for 2015

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Here’s how the Vikings’ cut-down went down … compared to my initial guess from yesterday for who’d make the 53:

  • QB (3) — Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke
  • RB/FB (4) — Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Dominique Williams, Zach Line
  • I actually didn’t expect Williams to make the team, but I thought he was a better option than Zach Line, who did make the team.

  • WR (6) — Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Stefon Diggs (R), Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson
  • TE (4) — Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Mycole Pruitt (R), Chase Ford
  • OL (9) — LT Matt Kalil, LG Brandon Fusco, C John Sullivan, RG Mike Harris, RT T.J. Clemmings, C/G Joe Berger, T Austin Shepherd, C/G Zac Kerin
  • I said this is the most likely position the team might fill from the waiver wire … instead, they traded with San Diego, giving up a 2016 sixth round pick for OT/OG Jeremiah Sirles)

  • DL (9) — RDE Everson Griffen, NT Linval Joseph, UT Sharif Floyd, LDE Brian Robison, DE Justin Trattou, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, DE Scott Chrichton, DE Danielle Hunter
  • LB (6) — WLB Chad Greenway, MLB Gerald Hodges, SLB Anthony Barr, LB Audie Cole, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Brandon Watts, LB Michael Mauti, Edmond Robinson
  • I didn’t see Watts or Mauti being waived, but there was a logjam of quality linebackers and not all could be retained on the roster. Mauti is especially surprising given his prowess on special teams.

  • CB (5) — Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, Trae Waynes, Jabari Price (suspended for first 2 games, won’t count against roster), Marcus Sherels
  • S (4) — Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum
  • P (1) — Jeff Locke
  • K (1) — Blair Walsh
  • LS (1) — Kevin McDermott

There will likely be a change or two before the kickoff of the first regular season game, but this should be pretty much the team the Vikings will play 2015 with. Practice squads can be formed once the waiver period expires for players who were cut from their teams on Saturday. Among the players I expect to see the team sign to the practice squad are C Tom Farniok, G Isame Faciane, RB Dominique Williams (or RB Joe Banyard … I don’t think both will make it), FB Blake Renaud, WR Isaac Fruechte, LB Brian Peters, CB Josh Thomas, and S Anthony Harris. The team isn’t restricted to the players they had in their own training camp, so a couple of signees could be players nobody in Minnesota has heard of.

September 5, 2015

Preseason football finally finishes … and the Vikings finally lost in preseason action

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Mercifully, the Thursday night game between the Vikings and the Titans wasn’t available on TV in the GTA, so I had an excuse to go play World of Warships or Guild Wars 2 instead of watching the carnage as third- and fourth-string players risked life and limb to try to stand out to their coaches in advance of Saturday’s final cut-down to 53 players.

At quarterback for the Vikings was third-stringer Taylor Heinicke, who played what sounds like an excellent game despite the rapidly crumbling walls of the second-string offensive line in front of him. In fact, Heinicke did so well that he made it almost unthinkable for the team to try to sneak him through waivers onto the practice squad — he’d be snapped up very quickly by a team looking for a good backup/developmental QB). If he continues to improve, he might make current backup Shaun Hill expendable next year. Despite his good work in earlier games, I think the team was expecting him to sit on the practice squad this year, but they shouldn’t risk losing him (so another player will have to be cut who might otherwise have made the roster).

By the time this gets posted early Saturday morning, any predictions I might want to make about who will make the final roster will be overtaken by events … but I’m still going to take a stab at it anyway:

  • QB (3) — Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Taylor Heinicke
  • RB/FB (4) — Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Domonique Williams
  • WR (6) — Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright, Stefon Diggs (R), Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson
  • TE (4) — Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Mycole Pruitt (R), Chase Ford
  • OL (8) — LT Matt Kalil, LG Brandon Fusco, C John Sullivan, RG Mike Harris, RT T.J. Clemmings, C/G Joe Berger, T Austin Shepherd, C/G Zac Kerin (this is the most likely position the team might fill from the waiver wire)
  • DL (9) — RDE Everson Griffen, NT Linval Joseph, UT Sharif Floyd, LDE Brian Robison, DE Justin Trattou, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, DE Scott Chrichton, DE Danielle Hunter
  • LB (7) — WLB Chad Greenway, MLB Gerald Hodges, SLB Anthony Barr, LB Audie Cole, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Brandon Watts, LB Michael Mauti
  • CB (5) — Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Captain Munnerlyn, Trae Waynes, Jabari Price (suspended for first 2 games, won’t count against roster), Marcus Sherels
  • S (4) — Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum
  • P (1) — Jeff Locke
  • K (1) — Blair Walsh
  • LS (1) — Kevin McDermott

Practice squads can start to be assembled about 24 hours after the final cut-downs, and up to ten players can be signed. Two of the spots can be used for more experienced players.

August 30, 2015

Vikings beat Dallas 28-14 to keep preseason winning streak alive

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:10

I sat down in front of the TV last night, expecting to watch the Vikings at the Cowboys, but after scrolling through the 500+ listings on Rogers, they were only showing one preseason game, and that was the Seattle versus San Diego contest. I ended up watching the NFL Network in order to catch the odd play and keep up with the scores. By the time I got to see any of the game I was interested in, Teddy Bridgewater and the first team offense had already handed over to the backups.

Unless he plays in the final preseason game, that gives Teddy a preseason stat line of 7-for-7 and 76 yards in this game and 29 of 35 for 295 yards and a TD with no interceptions over four games. That’s a completion rate of 82.8%, which would be very impressive if he carries that over into the regular season. He’d said earlier this week that his season goal is to complete 70% of his passes.

In the various final roster predictions that have been showing up in the fan pages lately, a popular “hot taek” has been that Cordarrelle Patterson was on the bubble and might not make the team. Then he does something like this and reminds everyone why teams didn’t want to kick to him if they could possibly avoid it. That’s a 107-yard kick return for a Vikings TD.


August 23, 2015

Vikings 20, Raiders 12 in weather-delayed preseason game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:09

I didn’t get to watch this game, as we had guests over for dinner, but the chances of being able to watch the game in the Toronto area probably weren’t that high anyway. Here’s The Daily Norseman‘s Christopher Gates on the game summary:

It took a really long time, thanks to a weather delay, but by the time the rain cleared and everything was in the books, the Minnesota Vikings continued their preseason perfection under Mike Zimmer with a 20-12 victory over the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday night.

Both teams got off to a bit of a slow start, including a miss on a 35-yard field goal attempt by Blair Walsh on the team’s second drive. The Raiders then got on the board first, courtesy of a 2-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray. The drive was highlighted by a 40-yard pass from Derek Carr to rookie Amari Cooper. The Vikings challenged the play, as it appeared that Cooper only got one foot in-bounds, but they lost that challenge. The 2-point attempt for the Raiders was unsuccessful, and they took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The Vikings answered back on their next drive, putting the ball into the end zone on the second play of the second quarter. Teddy Bridgewater took a snap, floated a pass to the back right corner of the end zone, and found Charles Johnson for a 10-yard score. Blair Walsh’s rough night continued, as he missed the new 33-yard extra point attempt, and the game remained tied at 6-6.

Approximately halfway through the second quarter, the severe weather rolling through the area caused the game to be delayed. The delay went on for approximately an hour, and the teams agreed to jump straight from the second quarter to the third quarter with no halftime break.

After the delay, Shaun Hill and Cordarrelle Patterson had a bit of miscommunication that resulted in an interception by Oakland’s Jonathan Dowling. That meant that former Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder entered the game for the Raiders, and after a 39-yard pitch-and-catch with Andre Holmes, the Raiders had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Giorgio Tavecchio to put the Raiders back on top, 9-6.

The Vikings managed to strike again at the end of the first half, as Hill moved the team downfield and found Chase Ford for a 4-yard touchdown pass with time running out. That sent the Vikings to the locker room for “halftime” with a 13-9 lead after the Blair Walsh extra point.

Eric Thompson compiled the post-game Stock Market Report with blue chip investments:

Teddy Bridgewater. His first drive wasn’t too great. He threw a little behind Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph and straight up missed Jarius Wright on a third down. But after that? Pure poetry. His improvisation to Jerick McKinnon, his gorgeous rainbow of a touchdown to Charles Johnson…my goodness. We’re still in very good gloved hands under center.

Chase Ford. Five catches for 19 yards isn’t exactly the stuff that legends are made of. However, his juggling catch while still getting out of bounds followed by holding on in the end zone while getting popped earned him a spot at the top this week. Ford jumped on his opportunity with MyCole Pruitt out due to an injury.

Everyone that watched the entire game. That was a mid-July Red Sox-Yankees-length game that we had to endure tonight. I would personally like to thank everyone on Twitter as well as Fulton Brewery for their delicious Sweet Child Of Vine IPA. Without them I would have fallen asleep or died of boredom around 8:45 PM.

… and the Junk Bonds:

Blair Walsh. What. The. Hell. I don’t care how windy it was at TCF on Saturday night. (As @thevikingpig put it: “The Blair Wind Project.”) You simply cannot miss three field goals and a newfangled extra point. Going 2-for-6 is a nice batting average but it’ll get you fired in a hurry if you’re an NFL kicker. After his second to last miss, Zimmer stared absolute daggers through his kicker while muttering what I’m sure was a string of expletives.

Nobody will be harder on Walsh than himself — in fact, he tried to kick himself after missing the last field goal but was wide left on his attempt. There is no excuse for how poorly Walsh is kicking so far this preseason. It better get fixed soon.

Run blocking. Jerick McKinnon had nowhere to go for all but one of his carries. The team averaged only 2.7 yards per rush. Not even Adrian Peterson is going to get many yards behind the run blocking that was on display most of the night.

Trae Waynes. No, I’m not calling him a bust by putting him in this section. And he did almost have an interception. Sadly, that one didn’t really count because it was thrown by Christian Ponder and nearly picking off Christian Ponder can usually happen by accident. But overall he played pretty poorly again, even after getting less to do by the coaching staff this week. It sucks that the 11th overall pick is probably going to be a project this year.

Cordarrelle Patterson. The bad interception that Hill threw seemed to be his fault. Patterson was pointing to his chest while walking off the field which means he probably ran the wrong route. He also didn’t get to return any kickoffs, which seems like the only way he’s going to make an impact at this rate.

Mother Nature. C’mon, it’s the preseason. We don’t need these games to last any longer than they already do. And can you imagine being a beer vendor at TCF Stadium during that delay? Those poor people.

August 16, 2015

Vikings top Bucs 26-16 in preseason, but lose their starting right tackle for the season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:22

Last night’s game was carried on the NFL Network, so I actually got to hear Paul Allen (the “voice of the Vikings”) instead of the usual network announcers. It was the second preseason game for the Vikings, but the first for Tampa Bay and the very first game action for the Buccaneers’ new starting quarterback, first overall draft pick of the 2015 draft, Jameis Winston (which was probably the reason the game was being shown on the NFL Network, now that I think of it).

While the Vikings prevailed on the scoreboard, they took a more serious loss when starting right tackle Phil Loadholt had to leave the game after just two plays with a leg injury. Later it was announced that Loadholt had suffered a torn Achilles tendon and would probably be out for the season. Rookie T.J. Clemmings is now the most likely player to start at right tackle unless the team decides to sign a veteran off the street (or, less likely, trade for one).

1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer rounds up the game details:


August 15, 2015

QotD: The “I didn’t do it!” gesture

Filed under: Football, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Denver leading 21-10, the Chiefs threw incomplete on third-and-goal from the Broncs’ 8. As the pass sailed out of bounds, Denver corner Chris Harris threw his hands up in the “I didn’t do it!” gesture. Penalty, automatic first down for Kansas City. Defenders should never make the “I didn’t do it!” gesture, which only alerts officials to the fact that they did it. In football, the “I didn’t do it!” gesture is regarded by zebras as a notarized confession after a Miranda warning.

Gregg Easterbrook, “TMQ: Super Bowl rematches rare events”, ESPN.com, 2014-09-16.

August 14, 2015

The return of “Zim Tzu”

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

It’s the end of Vikings training camp at Mankato State University, but the final practice didn’t go well. In fact it went so badly that head coach Mike Zimmer was furious with the team. At The Daily Norseman, world famous linguistic expert and translator Ted Glover provides his interpretation of what the coach said and what he really meant:

NOTE: This has a lot of NSFW words. If you’re offended easily, stop now. Also, unhook from the Internet and go unicorn hunting. Near rainbows — Ted


August 10, 2015

Vikings beat Steelers 14-3 in 2015 Hall of Fame game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:37

The NFL preseason is finally underway with last night’s Hall of Fame game played in Canton, Ohio between the Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers rested many of their starters (Ben Roethlisberger was not even in uniform for the game), while the Vikings’ starters only played brief stints before handing over to backups. At 1500ESPN, Andrew Krammer rounds up the action:

Bobbled interceptions, special teams gaffes, whiffed tackles and an injured kicker.

The NFL’s exhibition slate opened in mid-preseason form as the Vikings and Steelers played to a 14-3 final in Canton, Ohio on Sunday night — and it came with a little bit of everything.

Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham broke the ice with a 36-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead, just before Suisham left the game with a knee injury after attempting a tackle along the sideline. Rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt’s 34-yard catch-and-run on a crossing route put the Vikings up for good at 7-3. Running back Joe Banyard converted rookie Stefon Diggs’ big punt return into a one-yard touchdown run for the 14-3 lead that stood as final.

Here are five takeaways main takeaways from the first exhibition action:

• CB Trae Waynes with work to do: Reminds you a little of Xavier Rhodes doesn’t it? Rookie Trae Waynes drew three defensive contact penalties as he played the entire game. It wasn’t a pretty debut, but perhaps necessary as coach Mike Zimmer and his defensive staff work to mold the former Michigan State cornerback into a NFL-caliber player. He played a lot of off coverage, something relatively new to him in the NFL, and showed his room for improvement, including on a 35-yard one-handed grab by Shakim Phillips, who flew past Waynes, playing off, and shook Waynes’ arm bar for the impressive grab. Waynes was flagged for illegal contact on the play. It’s really no cause for concern. Rhodes went from penalty magnet to tough assignment in one year under Zimmer and this is just the beginning of Waynes’ education.

• Starters play one series apiece: Teddy Bridgewater returned from Florida after dealing with a personal matter to play one series for the Vikings. He went 5-for-6 for 44 yards on seven passing plays, adding a six-yard scramble. He went 1-for-2 on third-down attempts, converting a 3rd-and-5 with a completion to tight end Kyle Rudolph. The drive ended after undrafted rookie fullback Blake Renaud’s lead block was blown up on Jerick McKinnon’s 4th-and-1 attempt. Eight different Vikings caught the first nine completions. (We discuss those impressive fifth-round picks below)

Save for Gerald Hodges, Audie Cole and Waynes, the defensive starters saw just three plays in one series. The starters forced a three-and-out against mainly Steelers’ backups, including quarterback Landry Jones. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Maurkice Pouncey did not play for the Steelers. Hodges got the start at strong-side linebacker for Anthony Barr, who didn’t travel as he recovers from inflammation in his surgically-repaired left knee. Cole got the start in the middle, tipping a 3rd-and-13 pass that was completed anyway to rookie Sammie Coates for 12 yards. Hodges took advantage of his opportunities with solid open-field tackles.

At the Daily Norseman, Christopher Gates discusses the game:

Pittsburgh put up the first points of the game nearly halfway through the second quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham, taking a 3-0 lead. The Vikings answered on the ensuing drive, with Mike Kafka matriculating the ball down the field and finding a wide open MyCole Pruitt for a 34-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-3 in favor of Minnesota.

That’s how they went into the locker room, and neither team could get much going in the second half … until rookie Stefon Diggs got an opportunity to do some damage. Diggs took a punt from Brad Wing and, after a couple of nifty moves, took the ball all the way down to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line. (The Vikings threw a challenge flag, thinking that Diggs had gotten the ball into the end zone, but the call was upheld.) Joe Banyard took the ball into the end zone on the next play, extending the Minnesota lead to 14-3.

That ended the scoring for the evening. The two teams exchanged turnovers later on in the third quarter, both thanks to bobbles by tight ends. First, rookie Taylor Heinicke threw a pass to Chase Ford that Ford was unable to handle and resulted in an interception by cornerback Kevin Fogg. On the next play, however, Landry Jones hit tight end Jesse James, but he fumbled the ball and Vikings’ linebacker Brian Peters wound up falling on it. That pretty much ended the excitement, such as it was, for the evening.

Kafka wound up leading the Vikings in passing, completing 7-of-10 for 66 yards and a touchdown. Heinicke also went 7-for-10 passing, but had just 51 yards and the one interception. Bridgewater, as we mentioned, went 5-for-6 for 44 yards.

Matt Asiata led the Vikings in rushing with six carries for 30 yards. Joe Banyard had the most carries for Minnesota with seven, and wound up with 22 yards and his 1-yard touchdown run. MyCole Pruitt led the Vikings in both receptions and yardage on the evening, snagging four passes for 51 yards and the long touchdown.

The Vikings’ defense asserted themselves fairly well on the evening, allowing Jones. . .who played the entire game for the Steelers. . .to complete just 50 percent of his passes, as Jones went 16-of-32 for 135 yards. The Vikings also held the Steelers to just 68 yards rushing on 25 carries.

Minnesota will be back in action on Saturday, 15 August, as they will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Steelers play again on Friday, as they’ll make a trip to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.

July 31, 2015

@DrawPlayDave explains how he decides what to put in his webcomic

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

A brief Twitter exchange between Dave Rappocchio (@DrawPlayDave) and Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL):

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