Thread: Vikings 2-0 Under Childress
09-19-2006, 09:07 PM #1
Vikings 2-0 Under Childress
[size=13pt]Vikings 2-0 Under Childress[/size]
By Andy Benoit, NFL Contributing Editor
(Sports Network) - The 2-0 Patriots have Tom Brady. The undefeated Colts are led by Peyton Manning. A healthy Carson Palmer and healthy Drew Brees have helped the Bengals and Saints start off 2-0, respectively. The Baltimore Ravens brought in Steve McNair and have won both of their first two games, as well.
With all the positive press going to these signal-callers, it's fair to say that the leader and unheralded star of the Minnesota Vikings, kicker Ryan Longwell, is the most disrespected figure in the game today. Minnesota signed the 10th-year veteran because of his ability to come up big in the clutch. So far, all Longwell has done is lead his team into a hostile FedEx Field and kick a game-winning field goal in front of a national Monday night audience in Week 1, and tossed a gutsy 16-yard game-tying touchdown pass to tight end Richard Owens late in the fourth quarter against a stellar Carolina defense in Week 2. And oh by the way, in that game, Longwell connected on a game-winning 19-yard field goal in overtime, a kick that is more impressive when considering that 19 yards is equivalent to 57 feet.
Not wanting to take away attention from the rest of the Vikings team, Longwell modestly said afterward, "I've never thrown a touchdown pass," he said. "Not even in high school. Not in junior high, not in pee-wee, not in Pop Warner. Nothing. So that was it, that was my maiden voyage."
Brad Johnson has played well this season, but he's had the benefit of being the every-down quarterback for this team. Longwell (quarterback rating 158.3) has had to come up huge in spot duty.
However, Minnesota will likely need to rely on their other weapons against the defending division champion Chicago Bears this week. The Bears have given up only seven points on the season, and their two wins have come against division opponents. Even more impressive is the fact that they have scored 60 on their own, a feat that, in the past, would have taken Chicago several months to accomplish.
"That's not against us, though. That's not against us," said Vikings safety Darren Sharper.
CHILDRESS' WEST COAST OFFENSE LOOKS STRONG
In Week 1, the Vikings were effective on the ground simply because they ran the ball 34 times. Against the Panthers, Carolina matched up with a dominant front four that featured mammoth defensive tackles Kris Jenkins and Ma'ake Kemoeatu and rushed 33 times for 140 yards, controlling the clock with over 37 minutes in time of possession.
First-year head coach Brad Childress had talked during the offseason about playing this brand of football, but after his pass-happy tenure in Philadelphia (where Andy Reid calls the plays), no one quite believed him. They do now. Like most run-first teams, Childress's Vikings have been winning ugly.
Against Carolina, Minnesota had 18 penalties, gave up six sacks, and wasn't able to score until late in the game - and even then it took a horrendous play by Carolina's special teams (a botched lateral on a punt return) and a great one by Minnesota's (a successful fake field goal).
"You know how we live, bro. Rock 'em, sock 'em robots. Blue-collar football," said first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
"A lot of the guys have the attitude that if we get down, we're going to keep fighting," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "When we got behind, we still felt we could win.
"There's a different feeling. I think the whole team has more confidence. I think before the guys were like, 'Here we go again.' But now it's like, 'It's not over if we get behind.' "
VIKINGS LOSE JAMES
The Vikings defense suffered a fairly major blow when end Erasmus James was lost for the season with a left knee injury. Last year, it was young pass- rushing ace Kenechi Udeze on the shelf with a knee injury. Rookie Ray Edwards, who has looked great so far, replaced James in the fourth quarter on Sunday. He will likely see the biggest jump in playing time.
Wide receiver Troy Williamson had six receptions for 102 yards against Carolina, his first career 100-yard game. Williamson actually injured his shoulder early in the day, and spent most of the afternoon playing with a harness. The pain didn't wear him down late, though. His biggest play was a 30-yard catch-and-run that helped set up the game-winning field goal in overtime.
On Sunday, Julius Peppers didn't just eat right tackle Marcus Johnson's lunch; he ate his snack, dinner, dessert, and Monday morning breakfast. Peppers had three sacks and four quarterback hurries. Johnson does not do interviews, but teammate Artis Hicks told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "You can't blame Marcus. We had some breakdowns. It wasn't just his fault. He's a young guy, and he's going to be one of the better tackles in this league. But you got to give a lot of credit to Peppers."
The Vikings host the undefeated Bears for an early NFC North showdown at 1:00 Eastern on Sunday.
Andy Benoit is the author of Touchdown 2006: Everything You Need to Know About the NFL This Year. For more information or to contact Benoit, visit www.touchdown2006.com
09/19 14:48:32 ET
"If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"
09-19-2006, 09:23 PM #2
Re: Vikings 2-0 Under Childress
Great read. I like how Longwell stays humble in all of this. And our defense is holding up pretty well. I am looking forward to our match up with the Bears this weekend, it should be fun and well hyped!!
Let's go, Vikings!!!
09-19-2006, 10:24 PM #3
Re: Vikings 2-0 Under Childress
I can't wait for the Bear game either... I also didn't realize that it was Marcus Johnson that was guarding Julius Peppers, and not McKinney... Her all along, I thought it was McKinney that was giving up all those sacks to Peppers.. My bad, and I think several of us thought that as well...
09-20-2006, 12:13 AM #4
Re: Vikings 2-0 Under Childress
peppers kept getting switched around from left to right, so they both were blocking him at times.
only thing im worried about is edwards filling in for james =( he's done so well so far and was only goign to get better as the year went on
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