The Vikings may finally be getting the 2009 version of Sidney Rice in the final five games of 2010.
With a surgically repaired hip he still says isn't at 100 percent, the Vikings' physical playmaker was back making acrobatic catches in traffic and in the end zone. After two games of playing the majority of snaps but not making nearly the impact he did last year, his performance Sunday at Mall of America Field was the type of game he thought about when going through rehabilitation from his Aug. 23 hip surgery.
"Definitely. You want to be successful, but you also want to win, so whatever it takes to win I'm going to do," Rice said. "… I'm not 100 percent, but I'm going to keep fighting and, just as I said, keep doing what it takes to help this team be a more successful team."
He was a big part of the Vikings' 38-14 win over the Buffalo Bills, catching five passes for 105 yards and touchdowns of 31 and 6 yards, each of them impressive catches. His first touchdown was the Vikings' first score of the game, an acrobatic catch in which he hauled it away from cornerback Leodis McKelvin and got enough of his body down in the end zone before he went out of bounds.
It was close on several fronts. He was initially ruled out of bounds, a decision that was overturned on the first challenge of interim coach Leslie Frazier's career, and McKelvin was still battling Rice for the ball after the play was finished.
"I went straight to coach and told him to throw the flag. I was laying in bounds, my butt was in bounds when I came down and I just rolled over and I seen him wave out of bounds. So I went straight to coach and told him to challenge it," Rice said.
"I caught it at first and (McKelvin) got his hands in there and tried to take it and I know the tie goes to the receiver so I just held onto it until the referee made his call."
Rice made the catch in double coverage as safety Donte Whitner came over to assist McKelvin, but Tarvaris Jackson learned from Brett Favre last year that Rice can make the tough catch in traffic.
"When he is covered, he's really not covered. With the first touchdown he caught, that was all him. I just gave him a chance to make a play," Jackson said. "You don't have to be perfect with Sidney, just give him a chance to make a play and you see what he did."
After sitting out the first nine games of the season, Rice had only four catches for 76 yards in his first two games.
"You're hoping as Sidney goes through the comeback that he's experiencing, that at some point you're going to see the Sidney Rice of old. After those first two games of kind of feeling his way, his confidence was extremely high going into this ball game and it showed in his play," interim coach Leslie Frazier said. "Our hope going forward is that we're going to see more of the Sidney we saw a season ago because his confidence is high now."
Rice's second touchdown was nearly as impressive as the first with him fully extending on a diving catch in the end zone. So which one was better?
"Neither one. I just did my job. It's my job," Rice said. "Just out there doing what I'm supposed to do. Tarvaris made a great throw and I was able to make the play on it."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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