Brad Childress came into Friday’s game with the Jets with one offensive game plan in mind – play each of his four quarterbacks for one quarter. But, thanks to one of the most bizarre first quarters you will ever see, that plan had to be somewhat scuttled.
Because of a pair of defensive touchdowns, Tarvaris Jackson, who was supposed to just play the first quarter so Brooks Bollinger could get some work with the first team, was on the field for only three plays, amounting to 58 seconds, in the game’s first 15 minutes, 39 seconds. The plan was ruined because Childress needed to see more from his starting QB.
In addition, most of the damage on the Vikings’ second offensive possession, which led to a touchdown by Adrian Peterson, was primarily done on the ground. Of the 77 yards the Vikings covered in that drive, only one of the seven plays from scrimmage was a pass – an 8-yard completion to Sidney Rice on a short slant. But, with the Vikings up 21-6 at that point, Childress had seen enough and gave Bollinger a chance to play the rest of the third quarter.
The plan also get messed up in the second half. After letting Drew Henson engineer two drives, rookie Tyler Thigpen was ready to get a chance. But he had to wait for the Jets to complete a mammoth 18-play drive that started with 2:07 to play in the third quarter and didn’t end until there was 8:12 left in the game. The combination of the Vikings having a 21-point lead and the lack of time with the ball, Thigpen wound up throwing just one pass.
So much for the best-laid plans of mice and Coach Childress. The mice were chased away by a cat that ran onto the field in the fourth quarter, and three of Childress’s four quarterbacks didn’t get the kind of playing time he had wanted, but when you win 37-20, who really cares in the big picture of things?
Because they trailed for so long during Friday’s game and had so many turnovers, the Jets dominated the final statistics. They outgained the Vikings 324-230, running 69 offensive plays to 49 by the Vikings. Both teams had solid rushing days – the Vikings running 31 times for 167 yards and the Jets running 31 times for 148 yards. The big disparity was in passing. The Vikings threw just 18 passes and completed eight for 72 yards, while the Jets had 35 passes, completing 22 of those for 181 yards.
Individually, none of the Vikings quarterbacks looked overly impressive. Henson led the way, completing four of nine passes for 33 yards, while Bollinger and Jackson each completed 2 of 4 passes for 27 and 12 yards, respectively. Thigpen threw just one pass and it was incomplete. Adrian Peterson led the way on the ground with 70 yards on eight carries and a touchdown, with Mewelde Moore adding eight carries for 27 yards. Chester Taylor once again didn’t see a lot of opportunities, carrying four times for 16 yards and catching an important third-down screen pass for 18 yards.
For the Jets, starter Chad Pennington completed 7 of 10 passes, but had the two interceptions for touchdowns that ruined his night. Leon Washington and Danny Ware each had 11 carries for the Jets, with Washington gaining 52 yards and Ware picking up 45 yards. Veteran Justin McCareins led the Jets with three catches for 52 yards, including a 35-yard yard touchdown.
Need another sign that this is the preseason? Thirty-six different Vikings recorded tackles, led by Chad Greenway with five and Cedric Griffin, Brian Robison, Antoine Winfield, Greg Blue and George Hall with four each.
Through two games, the Vikings have forced seven turnovers while committing just one. Things could have been even worse for the Jets – the team had four fumbles, but managed to recover three of them.
The Jets got in the Vikings’ red zone three times, but none of those trips resulted in touchdowns.
The 37 points scored by the Vikings were the most in the Brad Childress era and the most points by any Vikings team since the 2004 season, when the Vikings scored 38 points in the fifth game of the regular season against the Saints.
Punter Alex Reyes did little to help himself in his battle to beat out Chris Kluwe. Reyes was given the chance to kick off in the first half and delivered three poor kicks – two were line drives that came down at the 5-yard line and were returned long distance and the other came down on the 11-yard line and was returned to the 45. He also had two punts for just a 33.5 yard average. Kluwe had one punt for 46 yards and Longwell did the kicking in the second half.
Jets guard Pete Kendall has been grousing about his contract status, but he did himself no favors Friday. Asked to play center in the second half, he had a pair of shotgun snaps. One sailed over the head of quarterback Brad Smith and, as he tried to recover the ball, instead of falling on it he tried to pick it up on the fly. He was pushed away by rookie Brian Robison, who scored the third defensive touchdown of the game on the play. On Kendall’s other shotgun snap – on a fourth-and-goal play from the Vikings 8-yard line, he snapped the ball past QB Brad Smith, who recovered it for a 21-yard loss
The second bad snap for Kendall ended one of the most impressive drives you will see all season. The Jets had possession of the ball for more than 14 minutes of the first quarter and almost matched that late in the third and into the fourth – running a 18-play drive that ate up almost nine minutes of clock time.
Childress showed he had some gutty decision-making in the third quarter. With the Vikings up 21-6 early in the third quarter and still on his own end of the field, Childress opted to go on fourth down. Fullback Jeff Dugan converted the first down with a 1-yard run.
It could be the FOX telecast team was in preseason mode as well. For some reason, when the game came back from halftime, the score mistakenly read 24-15 instead of 24-13 and Joe Buck even announced the score as such. Later, after discussing linebacker Jason Glenn’s retirement, Troy Aikman mistakenly identified George Hall, who is now wearing Glenn’s No. 55 jersey, as Glenn.
Late in the game a cat that apparently has taken up residence at the Meadowlands got on the field, ran across the end zone with no real sense of urgency, but, as security came to grab him, scooted away under the bleachers.
The stats were pretty even at halftime, with the Jets holding a 149-135 total yardage edge. Almost all of the Vikings’ yards came on the ground, as the first team ran 15 times for 105 yards, but the Jets managed 75 yards on 15 carries against the Vikings’ vaunted run defense.
Ryan Longwell’s 54-yard field goal at the end of the first half tied the longest field goal of his career and the only kick he made from that distance in his career was Dec. 16, 2001 in a game between the Packers and Titans.
The fumble by Bollinger in the second quarter was the first turnover committed by the Vikings this preseason. They would have no more after that point.
Peterson showed why he’s going to be a star on his first carry of the game. Early in the second quarter, he took a handoff to the right, did a 360 spin move to avoid a tackle and raced 43 yards down the sidelines – ending the run by lower his shoulder and initiating contact with the defender. That play set the tone for the Vikings offense and Peterson would follow up that run by capping off the drive with a touchdown carry up the middle from the 3-yard line.
The Jets seemed to come into the game looking at Cedric Griffin as a liability of the defense. The team threw seven passes his way and Griffin made four tackles and missed two more.
After Pennington threw his second interception for a touchdown, in the next two drives, the Jets had third-and-8 and third-and-14 situations and opted to run on both plays rather than risk another pick from their starter, who was removed after the second of those drives.
While the interception for a score by Darren Sharper was simply of matter of him jumping a route and Pennington not seeing him, defensive end Ray Edwards should get an assist on Chad Greenway’s touchdown. Edwards made a beautiful spin move on D’Brickashaw Ferguson grabbed hold of Pennington’s legs as he tried to throw a pass while being dragged down. Greenway picked the pass and returned it for a TD.
Ferguson’s day wasn’t over with just that play. On the Sharper interception, Kevin Williams suddenly became a blocker and, as Ferguson tried to track down Sharper, he was blown off his feet because of a huge block from Williams.
Another sign of the preseason? The Jets had the clock stopped due a penalty, giving them more than a minute to get a play called. But instead of huddling up, the Jets stood around as the play was run and had to call a time out in the first quarter.
The referees have been instructed to take a special look at some calls that haven’t been routinely made in the past. Two of those came into play early. Pat Williams was called for defensive holding for not releasing center Nick Mangold on a passing play and Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cothery was penalized at the Vikings 1-yard line for spiking a ball that wasn’t a touchdown.
Rookie Aundrae Allison did kick returns early in the game for the Vikings. He averaged 20 yards on three returns.
Last week it was Ray Edwards who played in all four quarters. This week Robison got on the field early in the first quarter and was still playing late into the game.
A total of 21 of the first 24 points scored by the Vikings this preseason have come from the defense and the offense still has just one touchdown in two games – as opposed to four for the Vikings defense.
For the second straight game, the game got underway with a penalty on the opening kickoff.
Prior to the game, there were violent thunderstorms in and around the Meadowlands and, while it didn’t rain much during the game, the field was wet the entire night.
There no telling if the Jets claimed the game was a sellout, but almost half the seats were empty at the start of the game and didn’t fill up as the game progressed. By the end of the game, there were only about 10,000 fans remaining – our final sign it was a preseason game.