The Vikings 27-10 victory against the Detroit Lions wasn't a flawless performance by any means, but they did enough good things on both sides of the ball to improve to 8-1.
The Vikings rolled up a season-high 492 total yards thanks to five plays of at least 40 yards. Sidney Rice finished with 201 yards receiving, Adrian Peterson rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns and Brett Favre threw for 344 yards.
Defensively, the Vikings held the Lions to 93 yards rushing and made life miserable for quarterback Matthew Stafford (3 sacks, 13 hurries).
Here are some notes and quotes from the locker room:
Rice on a roll
We profiled Rice’s improvement extensively a few weeks ago, and he continued to show that is fast becoming an elite receiver this season. Rice’s 201 yards receiving was the fourth-best total in team history.
Rice is not a speed burner but he has become a big-play threat down the field because he knows how to use his body and he is fast when he’s going after the ball in the air.
“The types of plays he makes, I think, is what we all expect him to do,” Favre said. “It’s just great catches, in traffic, coming back underneath guys, you name it. He’s proven he can make those types of catches. So it offers a different dimension with our run game. Him and guys like Percy (Harvin), you throw a three-yard pass to and they turn it into big plays like he did today. So we have a good mix. But definitely, as far as deep threats go, Sidney ranks right up there with the best.”
Up and down
Peterson rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. But he also was credited with two fumbles, including one that prevented what would have been a highlight reel touchdown run.
Peterson looked like he had spectacular 61-yards touchdown run in the second quarter when he broke four tackles near the line. But cornerback Phillip Buchanon chased him down and caught him at the 18-yard line. Buchanon grabbed the back of Peterson’s shoulder pads with his left hand and punched the ball out with his right hand. The ball bounced into the end zone and the Lions recovered it.
“He made a great play,” Peterson said. “I was open, swinging the ball. He came and punched the ball out. I wanted to punch him (laughing) but you have to give him credit.”
Peterson said he couldn’t remember the last time someone caught him behind.
“Can you?” he asked a reporter.
It was Peterson’s second fumble of the game after being credited with an earlier one when Harvin dropped his toss on a reverse play.
“We were both moving at a pretty good speed,” Peterson said. “I just have to do a better job of getting the ball to him. That one was on me.”
Peterson has fumbled the ball seven times and lost five in the past four games against the Lions. The one forced by Buchanon was particularly frustrating.
“I was sick for a minute walking to the sideline,” Peterson said.
Peterson broke free again on his first carry of the second half and ran 27 yards to the 1-yard line. That run pushed Peterson over the 4,000-yard mark in his 39th career game, tying him for the fewest games needed to reach that milestone in NFL history. He followed it up with a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Peterson said of 4,000 yards. “I owe it all to the offensive line and the receivers because those guys are really the ones that make it happen."
Too many penalties
The Vikings were mostly pleased with their performance, but their season-high 13 penalties did not get overlooked in victory.
"We can’t have that," Peterson said. "For things we want to accomplish, we have to make sure we scratch those things out, penalties and things that we can control."
Said left tackle Bryant McKinnie: "That’s definitely something we have to clean up."
The Vikings had only 41 penalties accepted against them in their first eight games, which was the fifth-lowest total in the NFL. Coach Brad Childress called Sunday’s total "disturbing."
"I don’t feel like we ever lost focus," Rice said. "It’s just unfortunate that we had those penalties that set us back. We had no excuses."
Hit and keep on running
Harvin turned in another highlight catch and run in the fourth quarter. Harvin caught a short pass in the flat and broke to the middle of the field where he got belted backward by linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Harvin, however, kept his balance and sprinted to the right for a 40-yard gain.
"Actually I didn’t even see [Levy]," Harvin said. "It happened so quick I just knew I got hit and I kind of stumbled a little bit but I really didn’t see the hit coming."
Favre was still gushing about the play after the game. "Nothing seems to surprise me with that guy now," he said. "He’s built like a running back, he runs like a running back, and he plays like a receiver. He works hard at it. He’s humble. I have no problem bragging on guys that obviously deserve it, but are also modest and humble about it. The thing is about that play with Percy, as amazing as that was, I’m not surprised about it."
Defensive end Ray Edwards had his best game of the season with five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Edwards was called for roughing the passer penalty on Stafford in the third quarter when he leaped over a block by the running back and collided with Stafford.
The Vikings were so upset with the call that coach Brad Childress called the NFL's director of officiating immediately after the game to get a further explanation.
“[The game officials] said he launched and hit him up high,” Childress said. “I said, ‘define up high for me.’ He said, ‘Well he didn’t hit him in the head.’ What’s up high above the waist? You can’t launch and hit a guy below the waist. How can you launch and get somebody to the ground if you can’t get them up high. There is no rule that says you can only hit in the midsection. I don’t quite get it. I thought it was a great defensive play by Ray. I thought it was a great effort play by Ray. I thought it was a sack, strip, fumble and that would have gotten us off the field right there."