Minnesota didn’t earn any style points Sunday
By Judd Zulgad
McClatchy News Services
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Minnesota Vikings’ performance Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars won’t earn them any style points, and it certainly wasn’t aesthetically pleasing.
That didn’t matter to the collection of players who dressed in the visitor’s locker room at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. To the Vikings, their 30-12 victory over the Jaguars might have been their most satisfying of the season.
The reason? For once, the Vikings did not insist on making things interesting to the end. After getting their first five victories by an average of 4.6 points, the Vikings put their foot on an opponent’s throat and were able to keep it there. Turning five Jaguars turnovers into 17 points made sure of that.
"We came in with the mindset that it doesn’t have to be close," said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was held to fewer than 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game. "We can blow these guys out. It started off sweet. We got 14 points real easy. We just kept the momentum from that point on."
The victory kept the Vikings (6-5) in a first-place tie with Chicago in the NFC North. The Bears, who routed St. Louis 27-3 will visit the Metrodome next Sunday night in a nationally televised game. The Green Bay Packers (5-5) will try to keep pace tonight when they play at New Orleans.
The Vikings beat the Saints at the Superdome in a Monday night game in October that featured plenty of interesting plays. Sunday’s game might have topped that in the first quarter alone. The Vikings won the opening coin flip but deferred so they could get the ball to open the second half.
The Jaguars (4-7) started the opening drive from their own 28 with quarterback David Garrard in the shotgun formation. Someone should have told center Brad Meester. He thought Garrard was right behind him and snapped the ball to no one. Linebacker Napoleon Harris picked it up and went 27 yards, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Jaguars’ Brian Witherspoon fumbled and the Vikings recovered at the Jacksonville 28. Three plays later, Chester Taylor scored from 3 yards out to make it 14-0 with 1 minute, 41 seconds elapsed. Taylor was in instead of Peterson because the latter was benched for the opening two series after being late for a meeting Saturday.
"That was just crazy to start out the game like that," said Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte, who was sacked three times and left the game for one play in the third quarter after taking a hit to the head. "You’re realizing that was (1:41) into the game and we’re up 14-0 and all of a sudden it’s like, ’Man, we have a long way to go.’ "
Vikings coach Brad Childress called it "maybe the most different game I’ve been associated with," adding, "With two scores, 14-0, with 1:41 gone, in your wildest dreams you don’t think it’s going to be like that. But you don’t turn those things back."
Childress also isn’t about to turn back any road victories, even if this one did come against a team that is 1-5 at home and has lost the past two weeks in its own stadium.