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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Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 Top 9th Inning
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 100 4th Qtr 2:41
Chicago 97
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 3rd Prd 4:01
Nashville 3
Vancouver 0 2nd Prd 8:51
Arizona 1
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 73 2nd Half 3:35
Arkansas State 71
Alabama State 56 2nd Half 10:00
Grambling St 35
Alabama A&M 39 2nd Half 7:00
Jackson State 60
Sam Houston St 45 2nd Half 11:30
Lamar 40
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 63 2nd Half 1:01
Nicholls 69
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 31 2nd Half 20:00
Prairie View 44
Alcorn State 51 2nd Half 12:00
Texas Southern 55
Houston Baptist 60 2nd Half 3:49
TX A&M-CC 76
Ark-Little Rock 59 2nd Half 3:23
Louisiana 63
SE Louisiana 50 2nd Half 12:07
New Orleans 73
California 31 2nd Half 17:07
Arizona 56
Memphis 35 2nd Half 15:59
Connecticut 33
VA Commonwealth 27 2nd Half 15:42
Davidson 45
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 56 2nd Half 9:31
Southern Utah 55
Northwestern St 41 2nd Half 15:50
Stephen F Austin 58
North Texas 36 2nd Half 11:37
Texas-El Paso 60
Colorado 50 2nd Half 9:28
Washington 42
Idaho 41 2nd Half 12:14
Weber State 54
Abilene Christian 19 2nd Half 20:00
Incarnate Word 23
Eastern Wash 58 2nd Half 11:07
Idaho State 48
Marist 46 2nd Half 17:23
Quinnipiac 30
Eastern Ill 24 2nd Half 18:43
Belmont 50
Bradley 21 2nd Half
Drake 17
Cal State Fullerton 12 1st Half 10:25
UC Irvine 11
CS-Northridge 12 1st Half 10:47
Long Beach State 16
UC Riverside 15 1st Half 11:36
UC Davis 8
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
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Liberty 59
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(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 59 2nd Half 1:07
High Point 69
Vanderbilt 49 2nd Half 5:15
(12) Kentucky 54
Colorado 47 2nd Half 13:39
USC 41
San Francisco 47 2nd Half 13:28
Pacific 43
Idaho State 43 2nd Half 8:14
Eastern Washington 44
Weber State 24 2nd Half 12:12
Idaho 51
Purdue 32 2nd Half
Minnesota 45
Cal-Irvine 12 1st Half 9:38
Cal State Fullerton 18
Long Beach St 6 1st Half 13:51
CS-Northridge 13
Hawaii 16 1st Half 10:56
UC Santa Barbara 18
UC Davis 12 1st Half 9:26
UC-Riverside 6
Northern Ariz 20 1st Half 10:20
Portland State 14
Southern Utah 4 1st Half 12:15
Sacramento St 22
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
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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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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