Five thoughts on the Vikings win over Cleveland:
1) This had all the makings of a Vikings 'play down to the competition' game, and it looked like that in the first half. This is where I think Favre's veteran presence made a difference. He stayed calm, didn't panic, made a couple of clutch third down throws and second and long throws, and the Vikes score two TD's and hold the ball for almost 13 minutes in the third quarter. Ballgame. Jackson seemed to...not rise up, if you will, in situations like that. Would Jackson have audibled into those throws or made those throws? Tough to say. Maybe he would've scrambled out of a couple of sacks that Favre took and made a big play. I know it's all speculative, but I also know you played the game, and having a vet and a leader at the QB position makes all the difference. It's something you can't measure, but you know it when you see it. I saw it in the Vikes yesterday.
The team has a different feel to it with Favre, one that exudes a quiet confidence, and one that doesn't panic. A 'I know they will do it' attitude as opposed to a 'I hope they can do it' attitude. That, my friend, is the difference between a Super Bowl team and a playoff team.
2) Adrian Peterson will exit the game as the best running back to ever play the game. Just think if we still had Moss. Excuse me while I go cry a little. Both AP and Favre made a 'pick your poison' comment in the post game pressers. Put 8 in the box and AP will still get three or four yards, and give you a manageable down and distance. Put 6 or 7 in the box, and AP will embarrass you, especially if you try and arm tackle him. Give Favre two weeks to get his timing down with his receivers and nail down hot reads, my God...
3) John Sullivan is an adequate replacement to Birk. I love Birk, but Sullivan acquitted himself well, I thought. He got owned on one play, but he did a good job. Ditto for Loadholt, but Cook was so damn mediocre last year a pulse and no false starts would have been an improvement.
4) Yeah, it was the Browns, but the defense was oppressive as the desert heat at noon. Jamal Lewis had a few decent runs, but I think the Vikings gameplan was to not worry about him, to be honest. Lewis is what, older than Favre? He's gonna get a couple of 10-20 yard runs, but he's not a home run hitter, and when the Vikings needed to stop a short run, they did. I think they went into the game wanting to give Brady Quinn about 310 different looks to confuse him, and it worked. The only significant yardage the Browns had was in garbage time once the Vikings second string was on the field. Awesome defensive display.
5) My Dad and I ripped Chilly for the onside kick, but after 24 hours to digest it, I like the move. If the Vikes get the ball, they get momentum, and if they go down and score, game is probably over by halftime. It also sends a message to the defense that if it fails, we still believe that you will give up no worse than a field goal. It's the opening game, against a team you should beat soundly, so there was really little risk. Hell, the Browns weren't driving 50 yards to score a touchdown; just wasn't gonna happen. And as much as we've criticized Chilly about being too conservative, so when he opens it up and rolls the dice we shouldn't crucify him. I mean, it's not like he ran a fake punt inside his own 30 clinging to a two point lead with the game hanging in the balance.