Week 5 three-and-out

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2012 - 8:09 PM
The Vikings are 3-1 and getting big plays in all three phases. Now they head into a Week 5 home game against an inferior opponent with an injured starting quarterback and a shaky defense. But wait, there's more. Here's a trio of other things you should know in this edition of Three and Out.

1. Chris Johnson's struggles through the first three weeks of the season were something of a chicken-and-egg scenario.

The Titans running back rushed for only 45 yards on 33 carries in the first three games, a putrid average of 1.4 yards per attempt. Then on Sunday in Houston, against a vaunted Texans defense, Johnson blew up for 141 yards on 25 carries.

Go figure.

Johnson only carried the ball an average of 11 times through the first three games, in part because the Titans fell behind big early against New England (21-3 at halftime) and San Diego (14-0 in the first quarter) and opted for a pass-first attack against a vulnerable Detroit secondary.

But those big early deficits were also partially a byproduct of Tennessee's inability to get its ground game established.

So now what? The Vikings defense has held the top back of their first four opponents to an average of 52 rushing yards per game. Yet they know Johnson remains dangerous. Last weekend's eruption in Houston offered a timely reminder.

"He looked like the Chris Johnson we're all familiar with," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.

Johnson's biggest season came in 2009 when he amassed 2,006 rushing yards, which later gave him leverage in negotiating a four-year contract extension worth $53.5 million.

Yet in his 20 games since getting that deal, Johnson has averaged just 62 yards per contest and 3.9 yards per carry. Is that downward trend worrisome?

Explained Titans coach Mike Munchak: "Last year was the first time we kind of stubbed our toe on it a little bit. ... The way he started, it came so easy the first three years. People didn't expect those kinds of numbers from him when he first came into the league. And then he goes for 2,000 and expectations just got large. We still feel like he's a back where 1,400-1,500 [yards] is where he should be."

2. Leslie Frazier doesn't want his team's sensational September to be this season's high point.

The view from the top of the NFC North has certainly been invigorating. Now we'll see how this surprising squad handles its early success throughout October. Three home games await this month and there's a belief that the second quarter of the season will be telling.

"It begins to separate," Frazier said. "You start seeing the teams that are for real and those who are pretenders. And we want to be a team that's for real."

Earlier this week, Frazier reminded his players of all the things they've done well to reach this point. Most notably, he highlighted the attention to detail the team has shown in its preparation each week.

And yes, there was the obligatory reminder that a 3-1 record does not guarantee long-term relevance.

"All of us have been around long enough to know that there are no champagne bottles being popped in September," Frazier said.

3. The Titans were thoroughly impressed with Christian Ponder during the predraft process in 2011.

With the eighth pick in that draft, Tennessee plucked Jake Locker to be their quarterback of the future. Four picks later, with Locker off the board, the Vikings reeled in Ponder. But don't underestimate just how close those two picks were to being reversed.

Munchak acknowledged Wednesday that he and the Titans were sold on Ponder's intelligence, athleticism and poise but ultimately decided Locker was a better fit for their system.

That said, Munchak hasn't been surprised at all by how well Ponder has played early in his second season.

"I'm proud of him," Munchak said. "You feel like you know these guys when you spend this much time with them before the draft. I thought he was a great kid. Smart. And all of the things you're watching on tape [now] is what I thought he'd be."

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Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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