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  1. #1
    ultravikingfan's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    NE Ohio

    Third down's value goes up

    [size=10pt]Third down's value goes up[/size]

    Vikings all-pro left guard Steve Hutchinson didn't need video evidence to know his team made a bevy of mistakes in its season opener Monday night. Yet Hutchinson, who started in Super Bowl XL for the Seattle Seahawks, saw his new club display an important quality.

    "We're going to turn on the film, and there are going to be a million things we could have done better on offense and defense," Hutchinson said Monday night, after the Vikings' 19-16 victory over the Redskins. "But when all is said and done, when the chips were stacked against us, in one of the biggest stadiums in the National Football League, on Monday night, on Sept. 11, in a real emotional game, we were able to come back as a team. That speaks volumes for the resilience of this team."

    Resilient is not a word associated with the Vikings in recent seasons.

    Since 2003, the Vikings have been one of the league's top front-runners — and one of the most inept at coming back. During that span, the Vikings are 21-2 when leading at halftime and, including Monday night, 5-20 when trailing after two quarters.

    The Vikings lived up to two of the tenets preached by first-year coach Brad Childress: to not beat themselves (no offensive turnovers Monday night), and to be fit enough to finish strong in fourth quarters (outscored the Redskins 3-0).

    Perhaps most important, though, was their ability to maintain their composure and perform in the clutch.

    The Vikings' offense converted 9 of 17 third-down attempts, while the defense held the Redskins to 4 of 13. Last season, the Vikings were ranked in the bottom three in both categories.

    "Minnesota did a great job of converting third downs, and we didn't," Redskins running back Clinton Portis said. "We didn't have the opportunity to get in the zone and get grinding the way we wanted."


    The Vikings thrived in large part because of veteran quarterback Brad Johnson. Even with two dropped passes from receiver Troy Williamson, Johnson completed 10 of 15 passes on third downs, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Marcus Robinson. In fact, 80 percent of Johnson's passing yards came on third downs.

    Asked why Johnson was so effective on third down, Childress said, "He knows where all of those people standing on the other side are.

    "He knows how he's protected, he knows who his fifth read is, he has a great sense of nothing good happens when you hold onto the football," Childress said. "He's the whole package, which he's developed over the last 15 years. He knows what's important, and he uses all of the things that he has at his command."

    Key in Johnson's success was his pass protection. His $100 million left side (Bryant McKinnie and Hutchinson) is renowned. But the quarterback's running backs, including fullback Tony Richardson, did a solid job in blitz pickup.

    As for the defense, the Vikings have long struggled to get off the field in third-down situations. But cornerback Fred Smoot said he doesn't want to look back anymore.

    "I'm not dwelling on last year," Smoot said. "You can't judge us off of what we did last year. We didn't make a lot of plays last year. But this is a whole new year."

    Smoot said Childress and his staff have stressed third-down, red-zone and other "situational" opportunities since their arrival.

    Against a playoff-caliber team loaded with talent, the Vikings' defense clearly had the upper hand in the clutch situations. In four trips to the red zone, the Redskins managed just one touchdown, and their woeful third-down statistics were punctuated by three passes that quarterback Mark Brunell threw away because of pressure.


    The most impressive play by a defender might have been safety Darren Sharper's jarring hit on receiver Santana Moss in the back of the end zone. With a step on rookie safety Greg Blue, Moss got his hands on a laser-like pass from Brunell. But just as the ball hit Moss' hands, Sharper slammed into Moss, who lost control of the ball, forcing the Redskins to settle for a field goal.

    That play came with the Vikings' offense in a funk.

    "Our defense held fast, only giving up minimal points, and we were able to come back as a team," Hutchinson said.

    A key possession for the offense didn't net any points but still was effective. Early in the fourth quarter, starting at their 3-yard line, the Vikings moved the ball downfield, eventually stalling at the Redskins' 44-yard line.

    "I wasn't nervous at all," Hutchinson said. "It seems like that's when our offense wakes up. Last week in Dallas, we were pinned at the 2, and we scored. It's not something we want to be in all the time. But it seems like when that happens, everyone hunkers down."

    And that made all the difference.

    "With a play here and a play there, who knows what might have happened?" Redskins running back Ladell Betts said. "We left a couple of points out on the field."

  2. #2
    digital420's Avatar
    digital420 is offline Team Alumni
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    Dec 1969
    Ancient Korinthia

    Re: Third down's value goes up

    Tice never really got this..

    and Denny used the one hit TD to not get into this situation.

    3rd down convertion, and stopping the 3rd down convertion is HUGE!!!

    if this is an indication of what's to come.. i'm very very happy


    "We tried to stick with it, but there was a point where we were beating our head against a wall," Seattle Coach Mora talking about running at the Williams Wall

  3. #3
    VKG4LFE's Avatar
    VKG4LFE is offline Jersey Retired Tetris Champion, Monkey GO Happy 4 Champion
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    Dec 1969
    Hartford, WI

    Re: Third down's value goes up

    We looked great on offense when on third down. Both TDs came on third down plays and Johnson like the article said was lights out in those clutch situations!

    I get the most pissed off looks from people with my VKG 4 LFE Wisconsin license plate, and I LOVE IT!!

  4. #4
    GFreeman44's Avatar
    GFreeman44 is offline Rookie
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Third down's value goes up

    No doubt, 3rd down conversions keep the chains moving and runs time of the clock.
    This and chipping away running the ball on 1st and 2nd down will put us in 3rd and short situations, and tighten the defense which is what will allow us to get those deep throws like we did with Troy W.

    I like the direction the Vikings are heading.
    I have been waiting for this for awhile!
    If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bs.

  5. #5
    Vikes's Avatar
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Third down's value goes up

    Good Job Vikings. It's one game but it was a very emotional game. Also we won on the road on GRASS!
    Good job team.

    The rigors of Spartan life. Leonidas is cast out into the wild, and survives the harsh winter to return to his home, when he is crowned King ....a Viking!


  6. #6
    Vikes_King's Avatar
    Vikes_King is offline Jersey Retired
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    Dec 1969

    Re: Third down's value goes up

    i was very impressed, i was half expecting it to wind up like last year where if we didnt convert on 2nd down, we werent converting

    "We’ll win our own Super Bowl, with our own players. Real Vikings. Something Brett Favre can never be."

    - Dan Calabrese

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