One thing is certain: Something went awry on a second-quarter punt return last Sunday at the Metrodome. The breakdown was so thorough, in fact, that Vikings coach Brad Childress declined to discuss it this week -- probably because he plans to re-deploy what appeared to be a trick play later this season.
It all began with 7 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the first half in the Vikings' 29-22 victory over Oakland. Punt returner Mewelde Moore set up at the Vikings 18-yard line to await Shane Lechler's punt. In an unusual arrangement, safety Tank Williams stood to Moore's left at the 30-yard line, and safety Mike Doss was flanked to the right.
Moore retreated to the 16 to field Lechler's 54-yard punt. But as both Williams and Doss watched, Raiders cover man Jerrod Cooper -- who had run past the Vikings' Charles Gordon at the line of scrimmage -- drilled Moore the instant he caught the ball.
Neither Williams nor Doss attempted to block Cooper, suggesting they were in position for some sort of unique return.
"That was just a different alignment," Childress said, choosing his words carefully. "We were just giving them a different alignment. We didn't quite do a good enough job with [Cooper] to make that different alignment work the way it should have."
Asked if it was fair to assume that Williams and Doss were positioned for a reason other than to block Cooper, Childress said, "You're right, they were there for a different reason."
Will the world find out why?
"You may or may not," Childress said, laughing.
The Vikings have used several return alignments this season, including one that put linebacker Heath Farwell directly in front of the punt returner. Meanwhile, on a Nov. 4 kickoff return against San Diego, Aundrae Allison faked a lateral to Adrian Peterson. Allison then returned the kickoff 62 yards.
Greenway give and take
Linebacker Chad Greenway has found himself in unfamiliar territory this season. He leads the NFL with four fumble recoveries, including one against the Raiders. The catch: They're the first four of his football career.
"It's just weird," Greenway said. "I'd never had a fumble recovery in my career at any level, and now I've got four. It's just the luck of the draw. The ball is squirting my way."
Teammates had been ribbing Greenway for not trying to return any of those fumbles for extra yardage. Those words no doubt were floating through his head in the fourth quarter Sunday when he intercepted a Daunte Culpepper pass. Greenway returned it 2 yards before fumbling himself, giving the Raiders another chance at a desperation scoring drive.
"Next time," Greenway said, "I'm keeping my butt on the ground."
In 33 games since entering the NFL in 2005, Farwell has made 45 special teams tackles. That total ranks fourth among NFL players over that span. Baltimore's Gary Stills leads the league with 51 special teams tackles since the start of the 2005 season.
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Mazzaro||4|
|Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman||6||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: B. Morrow||12|
|Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister||12||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: R. Dempster||3|
|Minnesota - LP: J. Burton||6||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: J. Benoit||7|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Blanton||5||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||4|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|