Week 2 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 8, Cincinnati Bengals 37
What you need to know
Last week, Vikings’ running backs managed only 13 rushing yards. Michael Bennett topped that on his first two carries this week, but should have stopped there as he attempted a spin move in traffic on his third carry and fumbled the ball away to the Bengals. Mewelde Moore came in for the next two possessions and produced well. Bennett returned on the Vikings’ fourth possession and lost another fumble the first time he touched the ball. Mewelde Moore was the featured back for the remainder of the game. This is purely speculative, but if the pained look on Mike Tice’s face is any indication, Moore could very well keep this job for a while.
The Vikings’ passing game continued to crumble without the departed Randy Moss and the injured Matt Birk. The Bengals’ pass rush often reached Culpepper before his receivers could complete their routes and when receivers were open, Culpepper couldn’t find them. He held the ball too long, made ill-advised decisions and cost the Vikings and his fantasy teams dearly. Three of the Vikings’ best second half drives ended in Deltha O’Neal interceptions.
The Vikings’ defense was overmatched by Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals. Minnesota offensive turnovers created a huge time of possession differential in the first half and this certainly didn’t help their defense catch any breaks. The Bengals finished the game with just over 500 offensive yards.
Nate Burleson was hit hard in the third quarter and left the game with a sprained knee. He did not return and was replaced by rookie Troy Williamson.
The Cincinnati offense began the game running on all cylinders, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions and driving into the Minnesota red zone on their third opportunity before Carson Palmer was intercepted in the end zone. They looked strong again on their next possession, but were slowed by nagging penalties and settled for a field goal. This game could have easily been 42-0 at halftime.
Carson Palmer spread the ball out to ten different receivers, but Chad Johnson was by far the leader in targets with 13. Johnson was targeted twice in the end zone, but both balls were a bit too high for him to reel in.
Rudi Johnson was a true workhorse running back in this game. He carried the ball 22 times for 90 yards, including three red zone carries, but didn’t find the end zone. Chris Perry had nine carries for 47 yards as he spelled Johnson on several offensive series. Rudi Johnson played the Bengals’ last possession, so it’s hard to say if the lopsided score was the reason Perry saw so much time.
This blowout could have been even bigger had the Bengals not committed 17 penalties for 115 yards, including two Daunte Culpepper fumbles that were negated by Cincinnati offsides calls. It is interesting to note that none of Cincinnati’s starters were rested in the second half even though the game was out of reach for Minnesota.
What you ought to know
Culpepper followed up last week’s miserable performance with another stinker. His first half stat line, six of 11 for 52 yards, no touchdowns and an interception pretty much summarizes the game. Playing from behind for the entire game, he had many opportunities to make plays, but struggled. On multiple occasions, game commentators pointed out replays where Culpepper had open receivers and couldn’t find them. Twice in this game Culpepper was sacked, fumbled away the ball, and was bailed out by offsides penalties. His rushing touchdown came on the Vikings’ final possession.
Moore took advantage of Michael Bennett’s butter fingers and performed as well as possible, considering the Vikings’ huge point deficit. Eight carries for 29 yards is certainly not going to get the job done for the Vikings, but head coach Mike Tice was visibly frustrated with Bennett’s fumbles and may see fit to sit him in the future.
Bennett started the game with a couple of strong carries, but lost a fumble on his third carry and was replaced by Mewelde Moore. Bennett returned later in the half and fumbled away his first touch. Vikings’ coach Mike Tice announced at half time that Mewelde Moore would be the featured back for the remainder of the game.
Williams had one carry after Bennett’s first rush and wasn’t called on again.
Taylor saw ten of his 13 targets in the second half, mostly after Nate Burleson left the game with an injury. Consequently, he was the Vikings’ leading receiver.
Burleson wasn’t targeted in the first quarter of play and never really got into the game. He took a couple of vicious hits in the third quarter and walked off the field with a trainer. Game commentators reported the injury to be a sprained knee and rookie Troy Williamson replaced him for the balance of the game.
Williamson muffed his first kick return opportunity, but managed to cover it up. He saw an increase in targets when Nate Burleson left the game in the third quarter, but not nearly as much as Travis Taylor.
Robinson made a couple of nice grabs and played the Randy Moss role in catching Culpepper’s two-point conversion pass on a high fade route.
Wiggins, unexplainably, was not targeted until the second half.
The number two tight end was not a factor.
The Vikings opted for a two point conversion following their sole touchdown and Edinger had no field goal attempts.
Carson Palmer and the Bengals set up the run with an almost unstoppable passing game, allowing both Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry to have their way with the Vikings’ defense. The Minnesota defense spent far too many minutes on the field to be effective and their exhaustion showed on a number of occasions. The Bengals finished with 167 total rushing yards.
The only high point for the Minnesota pass defense was Willie Offord’s second quarter interception of Carson Palmer in the end zone. Outside of that play, Palmer and Cincinnati’s receivers dominated, racking up 337 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 27 - 40 - 337 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 3 - 0|
Palmer began the game with a hot hand, completing 20 of 27 passes and throwing three touchdowns in the first half. He was well-protected and showed poise in the pocket, the polar opposite of Daunte Culpepper. With the game out of his opponents reach, Palmer’s second half stats cooled, but he found nine different receivers en route to a stellar 337 yard, three touchdown outing.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 22 - 90 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)|
Johnson had a strong game, averaging over four yards per carry and helping Cincinnati win the time of possession battle. He had three red zone carries, but did not find the end zone. He put on a clinic in bouncing off of tackles and picking up second-effort yardage. His fantasy owners won’t be happy with the number of touches lost to Chris Perry and it’s really difficult to tell just how much of this was due to the blowout score because Johnson was back in the game for the final possession.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 9 - 47 - 0, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (4 targets)|
In the first quarter, Perry took a Carson Palmer screen pass 87 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back by a holding penalty. Perry spelled Rudi Johnson for an entire possession late in the second quarter and for a good portion of the second half of this blowout game.
This particular Johnson was not a fantasy factor.
Johnson had a very strong seven catch, 139 yard outing. Half of his yards came on the second play of the game when he blew by the Vikings corner and Carson Palmer hit him perfectly in stride for a 70 yard touchdown. His 13 targets were spread evenly throughout the game. He was targeted in the end zone twice in the second quarter, but both balls were probably too high to reel in.
Houshmandzadeh showed that he could hurt the opposition both out of the backfield and spread out wide. The Bengals’ number two receiver saw his targets early, including three red zone looks, turning some nice yards after the catch into a first quarter touchdown. His second half touchdown came on a beautifully executed end around from the Minnesota 16 yard line.
Henry grabbed all four balls sent his way, including his first career NFL pass.
Walter was not a fantasy factor.
Perry was not a fantasy factor.
Kelly caught a short pass mid way through the second quarter and took a big hit from Antoine Winfield. Kelly was visibly shaken and left the field limping. Matt Schobel was the only TE targeted after that point.
After being blanked last week, Schobel had a couple of nice catches and a touchdown.
Graham was perfect with his field goals, hitting from 40, 29 and 30 yards respectively.
The Bengals gave up 36 yards to Michael Bennett on only three carries, but recovered to strip him of the ball twice, sending him to the bench. Mewelde Moore replaced him, but there was little opportunity to get a running game started as the Vikings were playing from behind.
The Bengals allowed only 52 passing yards in the first half, keeping Daunte Culpepper confused and frustrated. His receivers struggled to get open and when they were open, Culpepper couldn’t find them. The Cincinnati secondary spent most of the second half in soft coverage and gave up 184 more passing yards, but no touchdowns through the air. As solid as the Bengal defense played, this game was a tale of Minnesota’s woes.