By Joseph Oberle
The Minnesota Vikings vaulted out of the gate tonight looking as though they were tired of training camp and ready to start the season. On both sides of the ball (plus special teams), the Vikings looked efficient and effective as the starters scored on two first quarter drives, leading to a 13-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in opening preseason game of 2009.
The defense look even better. Aside from a couple penalties, the starting defensive backs covered the receivers well in man-to-man and allowed the front seven plenty of time to tee off on Peyton Manning. Manning worked just one series as Indy head coach Jim Caldwell saw his franchise player hit the turf three times, so he pulled him to save his skin.
The special teams covered the kicks very well all night and the unit certainly welcomed back Heath Farwell, the coverage ace who was out all last season with a knee injury. On the other side of the special teams ball, the return yardage was nothing to write home about (7 for 52 put return yards and 2 for 52 on kickoffs) much less write online about.
Adrian Peterson carried the ball 4 times for 20 yards the first series, and had one of his trademark runs in which when it seemed as though he was stopped, he continues to pump his legs and pick up a few more yards by bowling over several defenders.
Phil Loadholt looked strong in his first game as the new right tackle. He moved the pile on running plays and did well on pass protection. Loadholt did have a false start (which has happened more than once in that position for the Vikings), but in his short time in the game, he looks like he is ready to step into the right tackle position (Ryan Cook had two in one series).
As for the quarterback competition, it was lopsided if you look at it on the stats page. Starter Sage Rosenfels, was six of six in the opening drive and finished his night's work at 10-13 for 91 yards. He was cool in the pocket and made some nice passes (one incompletion was an open field drop by Jim Kleinsasser). Although the situation didn't call for it much, he doesn't seem to have the gun for an arm of other NFL quarterbacks, but he got the ball where it needed to be.
Tarvaris Jackson on the other hand, does have a strong arm, and it occasionally got in the way with a couple over throws. His numbers were 7 for 15 for 39 yards and while he got two quarters of work (versus one apiece for Rosenfels and John David Booty), his minutes were with the second team, which he hasn't worked with much in camp. Rosenfels certain looked better tonight, but next week Jackson will get the start with the first team.
It's preseason. As Rosenfels said, "The Colts didn't show us much on defense, which allowed us to go out there and play." So temper your excitement. But enjoy a decent performance and a win in the first game of 2009.