Welcome Back, Daunte: Eric Refsland blogs the Vikings
Oakland (2-7) at Minnesota (3-6), noon
A lot has been made this week of the Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin being a Minnesota Vikings ball boy during the late 1980’s and early 90s. His father, Monte, was an assistant with the Vikings and Lane spent a lot of time around the players and coaches soaking up the atmosphere. Im kind of jealous. Not that Lane got to be around the players or at the games during this time, but because he might have witnessed first hand what I believe to be the greatest moment in Minnesota Vikings history. No, not the 4 Super Bowl appearances, not the 15-1 Vikes of the 98-99 season, no not even the majestic Herschel Walker trade. The greatest moment was November 12, 1989 during the post game interview with then-head coach Jerry Burns. Download it here or listen to it streaming here:
Makes you long for that kind of passion today. And the best part about that day is that the Vikings won the game 23-21. Imagine what Jerry might have said if the Vikings had lost.
I’m excited for today’s game. I know, the threat of Adrian Peterson getting the handoff and busting the 80 yard touchdown will be missing and the Minnesota quarterback carousel continues, but I’m excited because Daunte Culpepper is the Raiders’ starting quarterback.
Culpepper, who was traded from the Vikes to the Dolphins before the 2006 season after setting the record for “most torn ligaments in one knee – ACL, MCL, PCL”, now gets the nod in Oakland every time the Raiders play one of his former teams. The Revenge Factor is off the charts. I think Al Davis (owner of the Oakland Raiders) looked at the 2007 schedule and said, “We play Miami and Minnesota this year. Let’s get Daunte, this will be fun.” It worked out well week 4 when Daunte scored four touchdowns against Miami, two through the air and two rushing scores -- maybe we should be worried, he probably hates us more. In any event, Daunte’s return to the Metrodome should provide some much needed drama in a game between two teams headed in the wrong direction.
Raiders 19, Vikings19
What a frustrating half of football!
Look no further than the 4 ugly turnovers to know why the Oakland Raiders are tied with the Vikings at the half. Chester Taylor is running all over the Raiders defense. Eighty-five yards on 11 carries and 2 touchdowns answers the question of whether Adrian Peterson’s absence would hurt the team offensively. After going for only 247 yards of total offense last week against the Pack, the Vikings have 291 yards in the first half. On the other side, the Vikings defensive line is shutting down the Raiders’ running game. Justin Fargas who probably has the worst name of any NFL running back, has only 24 yards on 12 carries. Minnesota should have at least 14 more points, but after an interception in the end zone and three costly fumbles the team is squandering many opportunities. Meanwhile the Raiders are making the most of the Vikes’ mistakes. Minnesota is once again showing off that last-in-the-NFL pass defense in allowing 174 yards in the air from the immoble Daunte on only 9 completions. That’s nearly 20 yards a completion!
Look for ball control to play a big part in the second half. If the Vikings can just hold on to the ball and continue to pound the ball with Taylor, they’ll be all right. However, if you give the ‘Pep enough chance to burn the Vikes’ secondary with the long ball, we could be in for some uncomfortable shots of Daunte getting his “roll on.”
Raiders 22, Vikings 29
It ain’t easy being Chester.
You rush for 1,216 yards last year and your team drafts Adrian Peterson, a running back, with the 7th pick in the draft. OK. You are named the starting running back at the beginning of the season but watch as the rookie slowly earns the bulk of the carries. All right. You watch as Adrian Peterson sets the Vikings records and then the NFL single game rushing mark. Wow. Chester Taylor could have been upset. He could have wanted out, to get more carries on another team. But then the rookie gets hurt, and without skipping a beat Chester is ready to pick up where he left off last year.
This game was all about Chester Taylor.
Overcoming a half of turnovers and points basically handed to the opponent, the Vikings returned to a winning game plan of running the ball down Oakland’s throat and pressuring Daunte Culpepper to win their fourth game of the year. Taylor had a very Peterson-like game rushing for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns with Adrian cheering him on from the sideline.
The defense also stepped it up the second half allowing only one score, a 52 yard field goal by the sure-footed Sebastian Janikowski. Of course it helps when Daunte decided to remind every Minnesota Vikings fan what we hated most about his play. Late in the 3rd quarter with the Raiders trailing by only three points, Culpepper fumbled away the ball, which led to Taylors 3rd touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Back to reality:
The Vikings have yet to win two consecutive games this season. Next week's contest at the Meadowlands against the New York Giants will be a challenge for this team that hasn’t played well on the road. The Giants have a team fighting for a playoff spot with weapons on both sides of the ball. While it won't be easy to get a win, the Vikings' best chance rests with the bright spots from this week: running the ball and minimizing mistakes. Think second half of today's game, not the first.