...rotten clam defense
Well fans, who would have thought, after such a promising first half, that Sunday afternoon would leave us with so many disturbing question marks? The defense played like champions for the first 30 minutes, particularly along the defensive line where Jared Allen and Brian Robison applied good pass rushing pressure, and the Vikes were able to stop the run as they had advertised.
The only points the excellent San Diego offense could put up came from a gift interception behind the Vikings ten yard line, and although the call was questionable (touch pass along the line of scrimmage in the shadow of their own goal post), the San Diego linebacker made a wonderfully athletic as well as lucky play.
The rehabilitated secondary covered adequately, benefitting from the defensive line pressure, with Antoine Winfield leading the team with ten tackles, and Erin Henderson filling in nicely for the departed Ben Leber. The defense looked like a playoff quality unit in the first half, giving reassuring answers to most of the preseason questions regarding that unit.
Meanwhile, the offense, without doing anything terribly exciting, played well enough to take advantage of the Harvin gift on the opening kickoff and the solid line play. The offensive line, subject to so much deep suspicion going in, blocked well enough to get Adrian Peterson most of the way to 100 yards in the first half, and protected the still mobile Donovan McNabb well enough to put an edge on the play action weapon. Now you have everything in place to hang onto the ball and grind out a solid if not glamorous win in the second.
In short, Leslie Frazierís team went into the locker room at half-time looking like a well-coached, competent outfit utilizing its talent within intelligently designed schemes. And then that old familiar Purple nightmare began. The dread pattern reemerges Ė two fruitless runs and an incomplete pass to give the ball right back to a Charger offense which regains confidence as it wears out the visiting defense in the California heat.
The San Diego offense, meanwhile, has adjusted to the Vikings defensive scheme and is picking the Purple apart with the three-step quick pass attack we have seen so often. Frazier channels his inner Brad Childress by not adjusting anything until he finally gets a first down on Petersonís solid running, at which point the wild cat formation is rolled out, only to be unmasked as an embarrassing dud. Ball back to San Diego, followed by the abject collapse of a Purple defense which comes apart like a clam shell whose occupant died long ago.
It was obvious by the missed tackles and stupid penalties that the Vikings defense was exhausted, which might be excused by the abbreviated preseason, the heat, and offensive ineptitude which kept them on the field without a break. If the offense can score some points and share playing time more equitably, perhaps this team could notch some wins. That would require a passing attack and QB play entirely lacking in San Diego.