Even when you're riding high at 3-1 and shocking the world with back-to-back wins over 2011 playoff teams, some people just aren't satisfied. Yes, the Vikings knocked off the Lions 20-13 on Sunday afternoon, but given the Eeyorean nature (did I just coin a term?) of the Purple's fanbase – well-deserved, mind you, after 52 years of frustration – the win just wasn't "pretty" enough to satisfy some Helga-horned observers.
Most of the postgame grumbling was aimed at the Vikings offense, which produced just two Blair Walsh field goals and advanced the ball into the red zone once all day. And while it's true that Christian Ponder finished with a mere 111 passing yards – the fewest in a Vikings victory since Brett Favre's first game (Sept. 13, 2009, at Cleveland), when Brad Childress' foot was still firmly on the brake pedal – a deeper dive into the stats reveals an offensive performance on Sunday that was anything but … well … offensive.
First, the ugly totals: Detroit outgained the Vikings 341-227, had 23 first downs to the Vikings' 15, and even won the time-of-possession battle (30:42 to 29:18) despite rushing for just 55 yards.
However, those totals are skewed by two factors:
1. Because the Vikings scored touchdowns on Percy Harvin's kickoff return and Marcus Sherels' punt return, they only had nine offensive drives, compared to Detroit's 12. That matters. The Vikings' average drive on Sunday lasted seven plays and covered
45 25 yards, so if they had managed average performances on those two drives forfeited to the special-teams touchdowns, you can tack on 50 more yards of total offense. (NOTE: Thanks to reader flipside42 for catching that transcription error. Time to switch to decaf.)
2. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson made his Vikings debut and had a huge impact on the game, despite his pedestrian totals of four catches for 50 yards. He also used his speed to draw two pass interference calls against Detroit's Bill Bentley, both of which put the Vikings into Lions territory and led to Walsh field goals. Those 57 yards of penalties don't count toward the total offensive output.
Thus, if you give the Purple 50 more yards for two average drives the offense missed (could have been more, could have been less) and if you add on the 57 penalty yards drawn by Simpson, the 227-yard game from the offense looks a bit more respectable at 334 yards.
And yes, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas. But those of you who want to find the cloud in Sunday's silver lining of a victory should look beyond the surface-level statistics before you start moping about the Vikings offense.
Patrick Donnelly is a Senior Editor at SportsData, a contributor to the 2012 Vikings Yearbook, and has covered the Vikings for FOXSportsNorth.com, Viking Update and the Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @donnelly612.
|Vikings (105)||AFC (4)|
|Bears (31)||Ex-Vikings (1)|
|Lions (20)||NFC (20)|
|NFL draft (15)||Packers (29)|
|Super Bowl (20)||Vikings coaches (13)|
|Vikings defense (13)||Vikings fans (55)|
|Vikings management (9)||Vikings off the field (4)|
|Vikings offense (21)||Vikings quarterbacks (11)|
|Vikings road games (3)||Vikings rookies (7)|
|Vikings roster moves (4)||Vikings special teams (4)|
|Vikings training camp (2)||Injury report (1)|
|Off the field (1)||On the road (7)|
|Quarterbacks (20)||Rookies (5)|
|Vikings draft (15)||Vikings trade talk (1)|
|Vikings players (18)||Adrian Peterson (44)|
|Anthony Herrera (2)||Antoine Winfield (13)|
|Ben Leber (2)||Bernard Berrian (6)|
|Brad Childress (6)||Brett Favre (8)|
|Brian Robison (7)||Bryant McKinnie (3)|
|Cedric Griffin (5)||Chad Greenway (8)|
|Chris Kluwe (3)||Darrell Bevell (1)|
|E.J. Henderson (4)||Jared Allen (18)|
|John Sullivan (9)||Kevin Williams (7)|
|Leslie Frazier (34)||Madieu Williams (1)|
|Percy Harvin (34)||Phil Loadholt (9)|
|Ray Edwards (1)||Ryan Longwell (6)|
|Sidney Rice (2)||Steve Hutchinson (1)|
|Tarvaris Jackson (6)||Tyrell Johnson (6)|
|Visanthe Shiancoe (4)||Brad Childress (6)|
|Darrell Bevell (1)||Leslie Frazier (34)|