'Nightmare' play aims the focus on LB Henderson

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD and DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: September 17, 2012 - 11:56 PM
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Vikings safety Mistral Raymond could only watch as the Colts' Reggie Wayne (87) caught a 30-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter Sunday.

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Erin Henderson came to work Monday and told Vikings linebackers coach Fred Pagac he'd had some bad dreams.

Henderson was burned by Andrew Luck's 30-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne in the final seconds of the first half in the Vikings' 23-20 loss to the Colts on Sunday.

Wayne bumped by cornerback Antoine Winfield and headed up the middle, outrunning Henderson before catching the pass in the end zone before Vikings safeties could converge.

"I told [Pagac] that I had nightmares about that play," Henderson said. "He told me, 'Good, you should.' "

The outside linebacker said he was in decent position, but made a bad play on the ball.

"I just tried to make a play on the ball too soon," he said. "When I turned around to look at it, I misjudged it completely."

Henderson said he was capable of winning the matchup with a wide receiver.

"I had some time last year playing the same position," he said. "And doing the same things. And I didn't give up anything across the middle. So, it's one of those things. I was trying to take the next step and get my head back there and I got nosy and he kept running. It is what it is."

Working overtime

Percy Harvin said he wanted to be in for the kickoff return late in the second quarter that Marcus Sherels returned from deep in his end zone to the Minnesota 15-yard line.

With a two-minute situation coming up, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he went with Sherels because he wanted Harvin fresh for the coming drive.

In retrospect, Sherels would have been better advised to take a touchback.

"We had a lot of good things going, the first couple [returns] we had," said Harvin, who opened the game with a 28-yard return. Harvin had another return of 50 yards that he said was a block or broken tackle away from going all the way. "I just want to be back there because I know it's a good opportunity to help this team go forward."

Through two games, Harvin has touched the ball 30 times. He has 18 catches for 188 yards, seven rushes for 33 yards and five kickoff returns for 166 yards. Harvin has been, without question, the Vikings' most reliable and most dangerous player.

"He's a beast," Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said after Sunday's game. "I won't say that about a lot of guys. But he's a beast."

"He's one of those guys who wants to be out there," Frazier said Monday. "He wants to return every kick. He wants to catch every ball, wants to get the handoffs. But we're the ones that have to be smart about how we use him and know that we need him, not just for this game but many games. It's a fine line. He's so valuable to us. But we also know the way he plays. He's going to have some collisions on a regular basis. So it's a fine line to have that balance."

Trouble time

Frazier was asked just what part of his defense troubles him most. Without hesitation, the Vikings coach acknowledged that it was the two-minute defense that will keep him up at night until it's solved.

After all, in the first two games of the season, the Vikings defense has been on the field in the final two minutes of a half or the game three times. And all three times, it surrendered scores.

"That's glaring. We've got to do better," Frazier said. "The way our team is built we're going to play a lot of close games. We talk about that all along with our guys. And we have to play good two-minute offense, good two-minute defense, good red zone defense, good red zone offense. We have to do better in that area."

Etc.

• Quarterback Christian Ponder said it was up to him to help get tight end John Carlson going. Both Frazier and Ponder said they thought Carlson was completely healthy. "I've got to get him the ball," Ponder said. "There's a couple plays he probably was open and I can get the ball to him."

• The Vikings had no significant injuries against the Colts.

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