Week 16 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 23, Baltimore Ravens 30
What you need to know
QB Brad Johnson put together a great first half. He delivered the ball quickly and decisively utilizing all his receivers. Johnson completed pass to ten different receivers in the game. However, an escalated pass rush in the second half by the Ravens and an absence of a running game from the Vikings were just too much on an obstacle for Johnson to overcome.
RB Michael Bennett started the game, but after one carry for negative one yard Mewelde Moore was the only running back in the game other than Ciatrick Fason. Fason had two goal line carries in the third quarter. The Minnesota offensive line was consistently dominated by the Baltimore front seven.
No Vikings wide receiver distinguished himself more than any other in this game. Koren Robinson, Marcus Robinson, Travis Taylor, Nate Burleson, and Troy Williamson all saw the field and ample targets that will make it difficult to determine which receivers are of long-term value from a fantasy perspective.
QB Kyle Boller showed signs of developing into a successful NFL quarterback. He threw the ball accurately and made big plays with his arm when the defense presented him with opportunities throwing three touchdowns for the second week in a row. Further, Boller made a huge mistake throwing a late interception giving the Vikings a chance to come back, but Boller steadied himself and led a long Raven drive late in the fourth quarter milking the clock.
RB Jamal Lewis kept backup Chester Taylor mostly on the sideline by running hard and grinding out 74 very tough yards. Taylor gave Lewis a few short breathers, and also entered the game on long third downs. Lewis had 28 total touches compared to only eight for Taylor.
The Ravens continue to be committed to getting the ball in to the hands of rookie WR Mark Clayton in multiple ways. Clayton was utilized twice out of the backfield and targeted deep several times in the game.
What you ought to know
Johnson started the game going five for five on the Vikings opening drive with a gift touchdown from CB Chris McAllister. McAllister allowed WR Travis Taylor to run by him into the end zone alone. Johnson unloaded the ball quickly on short dump passes all game long. He nearly threw an interception on a deep seam route, but got lucky when S Ed Reed dropped a sure pick. Johnson followed that up with another near interception on his next drive to Reed again. After two shaky possessions Johnson put together a great drive just before halftime. He hit six different receivers (nine total before halftime) before drilling a bullet into TE Jermaine Wiggins in close quarters at the goal line. He did a nice job of pump faking with the ball making the safety hesitate before delivering the pass to Wiggins for the score. Johnson started to face more of a pass rush in the second half. He was able to get rid of the ball quickly on most plays, but his accuracy suffered as a result. Johnson had a chance late to bring Minnesota back, but after being flushed form the pocket he fumbled as he was being pulled to the ground.
Moore entered the game on the Vikings fourth play from scrimmage and immediately had a nice 22 yard run off left tackle breaking a tackle and bursting into the secondary. He followed this up with a similar run to the left on a stretch play breaking tackles and picking up 14 more yards. After one carry for no gain the Vikings didnít attempt to run the ball at all in the first half. Moore started in the backfield to open the second half. The few times that Minnesota attempted to run the ball early in the second half Moore was met in the backfield by tacklers. Moore was the only Viking running back to get a carry in the second half. Those only went for 4, 0, 3, -2, and 0 yards. However, he was effective in the second half coming out of the backfield catching three passes for 37 yards.
Fason entered the game late in the second quarter being used as a short yardage specialist on the goal line. His offensive line failed to get push and he was driven back before getting to the line of scrimmage. He had a second opportunity on the next play running into the same wall again, but was able to break away from the pile keeping his feet. He ended up losing more yards attempting to get outside running around left end.
Bennett started the game for the Vikings pulling in a ten yard pass for a first down on their first play. His first carry went for negative one yards and RB Mewelde Moore immediately replaced him. Bennett didnít see the field again.
Taylor capped off the opening drive with a touchdown. It was a simple post pattern. CB Chris McAllister just let him run right by for the easy score. Taylor did a nice job of preventing an interception on his second target. WB Brad Johnson threw a terrible pass that S Ed Reed nearly picked off, but Taylor fought hard with Reed keeping him from catching the ball after it was deflected up into the air. Taylor caught a quick dump off pass on a blitz sight adjust and broke a tackle gaining 16 yards up the middle of the field, but dropped a sure first down on third and long two plays later. The pass was thrown low at his knees, but Taylor was alone on the side of the field and should have pulled it in.
Burleson made two short catches in the first half before making a nice leaping grab at the one yard line late in the second quarter. He did a nice job of concentrating on the ball while still barely getting his feet in bounds. One of his feet hit the pylon, but Burleson didnít get the ball across the goal line.
Robinson saw only one target in the first half. He opened the second half being targeted on a fade down the right sideline to the goal line, but the pass was overthrown. His only catch was a short five yarder.
Robinsonís first target was for a short five yard pickup. His second came on the first play of the Vikings second drive. He wasnít able to make the grab, but there was an illegal contact penalty on the defense. He did catch his next target for a short gain and got decleated by S Ed Reed while crossing the middle. The catch didnít count because of another illegal contact penalty. Robinson dropped his last target. In his defense the ball was clearly thrown behind him, but he did get his hands on the pass.
Williamson caught his first target late in the second quarter making a great one handed catch crossing the middle of the field. He had to reach behind to pull the ball in. He then turned it up the sideline showing a great burst and setting up his blockers well for 56 yards. Williamson was targeted deep late in the game on a fly pattern down the right sideline. He made a nice catch at the goal line, but was at least a full yard out of bounds.
Wiggins pulled in a short five yard pass on the Vikings second drive. He didnít see another target until the end of the first half. However, it was a touchdown from six yards out. Wiggins did a nice job of cradling the ball in heavy traffic. QB Brad Johnson drilled him with the pass from close range. Wiggins was the beneficiary of four late receptions in garbage time.
Edinger hit all three of his attempts (36, 40, 46) in the game.
The Vikings front seven (or eight or nine on some plays) were able to easily contain RB Jamal Lewis. Minnesota left their cornerbacks on islands most of the game as they stacked the line of scrimmage to make sure Lewis couldnít get going. They seemed content to take their chances with WB Kyle Boller. However, they did allow a couple of decent runs to Lewis and Taylor in the fourth quarter when getting the Ravens offense of the field was crucial.
The Vikings were able to manage only sparse pressure on QB Kyle Boller. They were able to get in his face up the middle a few times, but not enough force errant throws or cause multiple turnovers. The Minnesota defensive backs did a poor job of tackling allowing lots of extra yards after receptions.
|QB Kyle Boller, Pass: 24 - 34 - 289 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0|
Boller marched the Ravens down the field on their opening drive completing six of eight passes including a touchdown to TE Todd Heap. He moved around in the pocket well avoiding the pass rush. WR Derrick Mason bailed him out on one high throw making a fantastic leaping catch. The Baltimore running game disappeared for two straight drives and Boller didnít have much a chance to move the Ravens, but he ended the first half by completing five consecutive passes marching the Ravens into field goal range for K Matt Stover. Boller was facing a fairly tough pass rush straight up the middle, but was still able to complete passes falling backwards and throwing off his back foot. When he had room to step forward and into his throws he was much more accurate. Boller flashed serious arm strength early in the third quarter drilling WR Mark Clayton with a long slant that went for a touchdown. Again, he was able to stand tall in the pocket not having to be concerned with the pass rush on the play. He followed that up by hitting WR Derrick Mason deep for a 39 yard touchdown for the go ahead score. It was an easy throw as Mason was alone behind the defense. His late interception was on a deep cross. It was badly overthrown. After throwing the interception Boller was able to calm down and lead the Ravens on a long drive that milked most of the clock in the fourth quarter.
|RB Jamal Lewis, Rush: 24 - 74 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (4 targets)|
Lewis flashed the speed and power he routinely showed two seasons ago on the opening drive sprinting around left end, but the Viking front seven was able to shut down his running lanes with some quick adjustments. Lewis had ten first half carries and one reception. The Ravens attempted to use Lewis as their featured running back pounding the ball between the tackles, but were unable to move the sticks without relying on QB Kyle Boller making plays with his arm. Lewis had a string of carries that went for 2, 0, 3, 1, 0, 2, 2, 1, 0, 2, and 2 yards. Lewis again got a chance to flash that speed when a hole presented itself in the fourth quarter. He had one nice 19 yard run off right guard. Lewis just missed a late touchdown after the fumble by QB Brad Johnson. Lewis made a diving attempt at the goal line on a third down carry, but was just short of the end zone. The Ravens kicked the field goal for the ten point lead with only a minute left in the game.
Taylor was in the game on for three plays on the Ravens first drive and continued to be the change of pace back for starting RB Jamal Lewis entering on third downs and rotating Lewis out of the game for occasional breathers. Just before halftime Taylor pulled in a crossing route on third and long. He did a nice job splitting two defenders getting up field picking up the first down and also getting out of bounds. Taylor fumbled the kickoff to open the second half giving the Vikings a chip shot field goal. Taylor stayed in the game and returned the next kick. Shortly after this he caught a pass out of the backfield and did a nice job lowering his shoulder kicking up extra yards. He gave a repeat performance on the next Ravens possession picking up another first down on third and 12 off a reception.
Mason opened the first Ravens drive with two catches on their first two plays. The second one was a leaping grab of a poor pass. He took a big hit and still hung on picking up consecutive first downs. Mason followed up that play with another first down shortly after taking yet another big hit and picking up his third first down in as many catches. Mason disappeared until late in the third quarter. He was targeted on four of five plays. He pulled in another nice leaping grab on a hitch, and followed up that play by getting behind the defense deep for a 39 yard touchdown. He was so open he was able to stop and wait for the ball to come down before backpedaling into the end zone.
|WR Mark Clayton, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 5 - 90 - 1 (10 targets)|
The Ravens attempted to get the ball to Clayton quickly out of the backfield similar to what they did last week. He lined up in the backfield during the opening Baltimore drive and QB Kyle Boller attempted to sling a swing pass to him, but a defensive lineman knocked the ball down. Baltimore ran another play designed to get Clayton the ball out of the backfield in the second half as well, but it went nowhere. Clayton ended the first half by catching three balls setting up the field goal by K Matt Stover. On the opening drive of the third quarter Clayton showed great hands on a deep slant. Boller hit him with a laser that Clayton had to reach high for and snatch. The safety coming across was late and got in got in the way of the cornerback allowing Clayton to turn up field for the long touchdown. Clayton was open on another deep post, but was overthrown on the play. The defensive back held him, but the official missed the call.
Heap pulled in three passes on the opening Ravens drive that he capped off with a touchdown. Heap lined up wide as a receiver on the play and ran a slant for the score. He used his size well to shield off the defender making it an easy toss for QB Kyle Boller. Heapís only other first half reception was an 11 yard out that helped to set up the field goal by K Matt Stover. Heap didnít see even one pass thrown his way in the second half.
Stover made all three of his attempts (37, 38, 19) in the game.
After giving up 22 and 14 yard runs to RB Mewelde Moore early in the game the Baltimore front seven werenít really tested. The Vikings only ran the ball a hand full of times. The Ravens only gave up 6 total rushing yards other than the two early long carries by Moore.
The Ravens had a tough time getting to QB Brad Johnson early in the game. Johnson was dropping quickly and getting rid of the ball short before Baltimore could get to him. However, as the game drug on and Baltimore could see they didnít have to deal with any sort of running game they were able to apply some heat on Johnson. Sacks by Thomas, Suggs, and Polley in the second half ended drives or caused turnovers.