NFL Week 1 Recap: Saints Walk Away With Victory In Hard Fought Game With Vikings

September 10th, 2010 – by Jimmy

If the Minnesota Vikings were looking to erase the bad taste left after the 2009 NFC Championship Game loss to the New Orleans Saints, they’re going to have to wait. After losing to the Saints in the NFL’s Thursday night opener, the Vikings will not have another shot to defeat the Super Bowl XLIV Champion Saints unless they meet again in the playoffs of the 2010 NFL Season.

While the aforementioned game had all the makings of a classic, this game was anything but even though the score stayed relatively close throughout the game. In what ended up being a defensive struggle which had the Saints trailing at the half, New Orleans persevered and captured the 14 to 9 victory over a veteran Vikings squad.

Even though a win is a win, bettors who wagered on the Saints to cover the 6 point spread were not happy, especially considering the final margin of victory was just 5 points. Those are the breaks, and if asked, Vikings fans who won wagers on their team would probably trade that monetary gain for a mark in the win column. Luckily, there are still 15 more games to go for the Vikes, plenty of time to get things headed in the right direction, and plenty of time to win money off of the NFL Weekly Betting Odds.

On the first possession of the game, things were electric. Fans in the stands and watching at home were giddy with the start of the new season. Fantasy football owners across the land focused intently as Drew Brees marched his Saints right down the field, scoring on a 29 yard touchdown reception by Devery Henderson. While the Saints would score in just over 2 minutes, the action would slow considerably from that point on.

While the Saints led early, the Vikings would finally crack the scoreboard with a 41 yard field goal from the foot of Ryan Longwell to bring the score to 7-3 with just 5:32 left in the second quarter.

After a series of punts and turnovers, Minnesota would have one more chance to take the lead going into the half, and Brett Favre took advantage. With just over a minute to go in the half, Brett Favre drove the Vikes down the field primarily on two balls thrown to TE Visanthe Shiancoe. The first, a 33 yard completion, got the Vikings deep into Saints territory. Favre and Shiancoe would hook up again on the next play, a 20 yard TD reception on a ball perfectly placed by Favre. The drive took just :45 seconds, however it would not be capped by the extra point as the Saints were able to get through the line and get a hand on the kick. Going into halftime, the score stood 9 to 7, Vikings.

Starting the second half, the Vikings would get the ball, however would not be able to turn it into a scoring drive forcing the punt. The first possession of the Saints in the second half would be a successful one, except for different reasons than the initial scoring drive. Instead of the focus being on QB Drew Brees, the Saints decided to go to the ground and RB Pierre Thomas. An eleven play, 74 yard touchdown drive was capped off with a 1 yard Thomas scoring plunge which gave the Saints the lead and essentially the victory. Thomas would touch the ball seven of the eleven plays that drive, including one reception from Brees.

Try as they might, the Vikings were unable to muster any more points on their last 4 possessions. During that time, the Vikings only got one first down and had three, 3 & out possessions. To make matters worse, it was the Vikings defense that could not get off the field to give Favre just one more chance. With just 5:32 left to go, the Saints got the ball and kept it, converting several 3rd down plays to keep drives alive. The straw that broke their back was a 9 yard completion to Devery Henderson on 3rd & 7 just before the two minute warning. Even with two of their timeouts remaining, the Vikings could not get the stop to force a punt. Brees would kneel the ball the final three plays to seal the win for the Saints and the “Who Dat” nation.

Overall, Minnesota had a real chance in this game and just weren’t able to capitalize or make the big play when needed. Part of that can be attributed to the preseason injury of WR Sidney Rice especially when looking at the fact that Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin had just one reception apiece. Visanthe Shiancoe led the team in receiving with 4 receptions for 76 yards and 1 touchdown. While Shiancoe is a good tight end, no one would have expected him to be the number one guy further showing how the Rice injury is ailing the Vikings. On a positive note, RB Adrian Peterson looked strong… when the Vikings decided to run him. Peterson garnered 87 rushing yards on 19 carries, most of which came early in the game. In fact, the Vikings seemingly abandoned the run during the second half, a game that was still just a one possession game.

Ultimately, 15 of 27 for 171 yards and 1 touchdown with 1 interception just isn’t going to cut it for Brett Favre. Admittedly so, Favre’s timing wasn’t there yet which made it tough to hook up with his receivers, the key to the 2009 Vikings offense. Will the Vikings be ok? That remains to be seen. The next two games against the Dolphins and Lions respectively are win-able, however after the bye in Week 4, the Vikings will face playoff teams in 6 of their next 7 games including two games with the Packers, games that sure to be tough NFL matchups.

On the other sideline, the Saints are happy to have the win. While Brees didn’t have his heroic numbers that he is known for, the competent QB did throw for 237 yards, going 27 of 36 along with a touchdown pass. Brees seems to be ready to defend his title and there is little doubt his teammates have his back. Despite a slow start, Pierre Thomas finished with 71 yards on 19 carries along with a TD. Thomas also had 3 receptions for 15 yards. Other key contributors included Marques Colston, 5 receptions for 62 yards, and Devery Henderson, 2 receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Hartley missed two FGs in this game which could have put the game out of reach for the Vikings, something Sean Payton will be sure to address.

Up next for the Saints: a trip to San Francisco to face the 49ers in what is sure to be a solid contest. From there, the Saints begin division play against the Falcons and Panthers in weeks 3 & 4 respectively. The schedule will start to stiffen up starting with a week 8 matchup against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers and then again in week 12 with a trip to the Big D to face the Cowboys (first team to beat the Saints in the 2009 season).

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