Each week, NFL writer Mark Craig offers his five takeaways from the Vikings game.
1. Frustrated Munnerlyn loses his temper
The Vikings already were down 27-3 late in the third quarter when Colts quarterback Andrew Luck easily converted a third-and-2 situation with an 8-yard slant to Chester Rogers. It was the Colts’ sixth third-down conversion in 10 tries. Captain Munnerlyn made the tackle, got up and started yelling and gesturing toward the sideline. “I was just upset the guy was open,” Munnerlyn said. “A lot of folks probably thought that was my guy. I was just frustrated by that play because he’s not supposed to be open. That’s why I try not to show too much emotion, but at the same time, it’s tough. I’m sitting there like, ‘That’s not [my guy].’ ” The Colts converted four of their first five third downs en route to a 10-0 lead with 2:22 left in the first half. “We gave up 411 yards,” Munnerlyn said. “It’s embarrassing. We just laid an egg.”
2. Linval’s ill-advised leap a killer
The Vikings stopped the Colts on third down only twice in six tries in the first quarter. And the second one didn’t matter because a sloppy penalty on nose tackle Linval Joseph handed the Colts a new set of downs at the Vikings 1. On a 21-yard field goal attempt, Joseph got too aggressive across from long-snapper Matt Overton. Joseph went over the top of Overton, making contact with him, which is against the “leverage” rule protecting the long-snapper. “I wasn’t trying to clear him,” Joseph said. “I was trying to jump straight up. [Overton] was real, real low and I caught him with my foot. I can’t control that play.” Actually, it can be avoided, especially since Joseph said he knows the rule. The Colts took the field goal off the board and scored a touchdown two plays later to go up 10-0.
3. Creative first-down look attacks Greenway
The Colts’ 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Erik Swoope was a masterful play design that gave them an advantage against the Vikings’ base defense. It was a three-tight end look on first down, so it was a run look by a team that was running the ball effectively. Instead, all three tight ends ran deep routes. Dwayne Allen was inside on the left, while Swoope was offset to Allen’s left. Jack Doyle was tight on the right side. The Vikings had Andrew Sendejo as a single high safety with the other safety, Anthony Harris, in the box to the left side of the defense. Allen ran straight down the field, taking cornerback Xavier Rhodes with him. Swoope blocked linebacker Chad Greenway to the outside and then released with a sprint down the left sideline. Greenway, who no longer plays in passing situations, couldn’t recover and catch up in time to prevent Swoope’s first career touchdown.
4. Harris has a rough outing
The Colts also benefited by not having to deal with free safety Harrison Smith, the most versatile defender in coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive packages. Smith missed his second straight game because of an ankle injury. His replacement, Anthony Harris, played OK against Jacksonville and had a game-high 15 tackles against the Colts. But he also appeared to be out of position too many times Sunday. The Colts’ two longest plays targeted Harris’ area. The first was a 31-yard completion on third-and-7 in the first quarter, when Harris lost coverage on T.Y. Hilton. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Luck connected with Phillip Dorsett on a 50-yard touchdown pass. Harris appeared to hesitate in his zone, looking to the outside and creating a gap between defenders down the left seam. “We were just playing the scheme of the defense,” Harris said about the 50-yarder. “They got tape and they do a good job and can find a way to make plays. ... They called up a good play and executed. Maybe try to be in better position.”
5. Not-so-special teams early on
Joseph’s penalty on the field goal attempt wasn’t the Vikings’ only damaging special teams mistake early on. That scoring drive started with Jeff Locke’s 52-yard punt. It was his longest punt of the game, but not his best. It was too much of a line drive. When Rogers, the Colts’ returner, fielded on the bounce, both Vikings gunners, Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson, were out of position to make the tackle. Rogers scooted through the coverage team for 30 yards to the Indianapolis 48.