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Other Week 4 Game Recaps

Week 4 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 10, Atlanta Falcons 30

What you need to know

Minnesota Vikings

With five defensive starters missing from the lineup, the Vikings were overmatched by the Falcons’ offense even without their star Michael Vick. The defense allowed the Falcons to score on three of the first four possessions and was unable to recover with the offense providing no support.

The Vikings’ offense started their first series with three consecutive penalties which set the tone for what turned out to be a long afternoon for Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings. The Vikings would finish the game with 11 penalties in the game.

Daunte Culpepper's horrid season continued against the Falcons this week. Culpepper threw two interceptions had a lost a fumble as he increased his turnover total to 13 through four games this season. He also was sacked nine times in the game and has now been sacked a total of 20 times in four games.

Mewelde Moore recorded 120 yards of total offense leading the Vikings in rushing and receiving yards in the game.

Atlanta Falcons

The hometown fans in Atlanta were silent as Michael Vick remained on the turf after an incomplete pass grasping his right knee midway through the second quarter. The injury was reported as a right knee sprain and x-rays taken at halftime were negative. Vikings’ defensive lineman Erasmus James fell on Vick’s leg as he tackled him to the turf but the injury did not look to be serious as his knee was not twisted or bent awkwardly during the play.

The Falcons’ rushing attack dominated the Vikings and exploded for 285 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. After today’s performance on the ground, Atlanta is now averaging over 200 yards a game which is leading the NFL.

Warrick Dunn led the Falcons’ with 126 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Dunn scored on a 37 yard touchdown run in the second quarter giving him 50 for his career during the regular season.

Before leaving the game with an injury, Vick had rushed for 58 yards including 47 on the Falcons’ first possession. He also was six of eight passing for 49 yards and a touchdown.

What you ought to know

QB Daunte Culpepper, Pass: 23 - 34 - 250 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0

Culpepper continued to take a beating as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 250 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. After showing signs of 2004 last week against the Saints, Culpepper reverted back to the first two games of the season and sometimes looked lost in the pocket against Atlanta. His lone touchdown came with just over two minutes in the game to avoid complete embarrassment for the offense. Culpepper was also sacked nine times in the game and had a lost fumble. With the addition of two interceptions in this game, he increased his league leading total to ten on the season.

QB Brad Johnson

Johnson finished the day completing 25 of 44 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He did not look sharp with his passes and had numerous overthrown attempts both short and deep downfield. His receivers’ added to his lackluster game with several dropped balls. Johnson’s only touchdown of the game came in the fourth quarter when he pumped faked, stepped up in the pocket and launched a beautiful 29 yard spiral to Marcus Robinson. He had two second half interceptions in the game, one led to a field goal for Buffalo. In fairness to Johnson, one of his interceptions was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Johnson also fumbled the snap from center but was able to recover the ball for Minnesota.

QB Teddy Bridgewater

The Vikings knew that, while they liked what they had seen in Teddy Bridgewater’s first game, he was still a young quarterback. So they kept the gameplan simple and didn’t ask him to carry the water for the whole team. Throughout the game—and especially early on—offensive coordinator Norv Turner called short plays designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly. That’s not to say he didn’t throw some absolute darts early, including a perfect pass to Greg Jennings late in the first quarter. On the play, Jennings ran about ten yards straight out from the line of scrimmage, pushing past defensive end Kroy Biermann. Bridgewater delivered the ball with a hard throw away from the defender which enabled Jennings to catch the ball at full speed and gain additional yards. The rookie began the game with seven straight completions before a dropped pass and an excellent play to prevent a completion to tight end Chase Ford. Bridgewater showed a great ability to sell playaction, such as on a second quarter completion to a wide open Rhett Ellison. Ellison was open in part because the defensive front bought into the fake completely. While Bridgewater didn’t throw any touchdowns, he did scramble for one in the late second quarter. On the play, Bridgewater dropped back and scanned the field but couldn’t find an open man. Rather than forcing the throw and under pressure, he pulled the ball down and fled the pocket. Bridgewater turned the corner, and seeing nothing but open field between himself and the goal line, ran for the end zone. While one Atlanta Falcon got between him and the touchdown, the defender missed the tackle and Bridgewater dove into the end zone. Overall, Bridgewater looked very sharp, made strong decisions and spread the ball around. Some wondered why Cordarrelle Patterson wasn’t terribly involved, but as Judd Zulgad of ESPN 1500 in Minnesota wrote, that just shows he was willing to go wherever the receivers were open and not force things. That means he can be effective no matter who the defense tries to shut down. Bridgewater left the game in the late fourth quarter with an ankle injury, but X-Rays and an MRI came back negative, but the short week makes the game against the Green Bay Packers an unknown proposition.

QB Matt Cassel

A lot has already been made of the day backup quarterback Matt Cassel had in London but there were a few moments early which, had they fallen slightly differently would have spelled a much different day for Cassel. After three short passes, the last of which was a wildly off target throw in John Carlson’s general direction, Cassel launched a bomb down the sideline for rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor had Patterson well covered, though Patterson was inside on him and between Taylor and Cassel. Cassel’s throw, however, was well over Patterson’s head and almost looked as if it was aimed at Taylor rather than Ponder. Only a nice defensive play by Patterson saved an interception, something which might have changed the course of the game. A short time after, Cassel had a pass batted down at the line by defensive end Cameron Heyward. As bad as that might be, Cassel was lucky it didn’t make it past the line of scrimmage since safety Ryan Clark was haunting Greg Jennings, the intended target. Clark could have very well picked that ball off and not long after, Cassel overthrew Adrian Peterson with a ball that, again, should have been intercepted. However, teams win games when the ball bounces in their favor and that’s how things went for the Vikings. A few plays later, Cassel hit Greg Jennings on a short pass to the left, which Jennings then took an extra 60 yards for a touchdown. It’s one of those plays which reads much differently on the stat-sheet than when it took place. Cassel then threw three straight incomplete passes, including one which Taylor had a chance to intercept again. On the play, Taylor gave Jerome Simpson a decent cushion, making it look as if Cassel had Simpson wide open. When Cassel threw the pass, Taylor was ready, jumped in front of the ball and nearly came up with the interception. Cassel did finally turn the ball over, though it was a fumble on a sack which the Steelers couldn’t hang onto and was recovered by Jerome Simpson. Cassel finally completed another pass (his first since the touchdown to Jennings in the first) with two minutes left in the first half and while the catch was made, Simpson had to jump up to get it, despite being wide open again. Cassel got it right when he found Simpson open again across the middle and hit his receiver in stride, allowing Simpson to have momentum with the catch and gaining an extra 30 yards after the 20 yard throw. Cassel’s second touchdown to Jennings was another really nice throw. On the play, Cassel faked handing off the ball top Adrian Peterson, making the linebackers and safeties hesitate before committing to helping cover a receiver. Cassel then threw a very nice ball to the end zone, where Jennings had inside position on cornerback Cortez Allen. Jennings himself sold Allen on an outside route and the corner was too caught off guard to recover when the receiver broke the route inside instead. Cassel finished the game with six straight completions to help seal the win. Overall, Cassel’s numbers look a lot better than he played. For most of the game, Cassel was inaccurate and a bit erratic. He also had much better play by his offensive line than Christian Ponder. Ponder had been sacked 10 times before Cassel came in this week, and taken 17 QB hits while Cassel was sacked once and, according to, logged no other QB hits. That makes a huge difference and it would have been interesting to see how well Ponder would have fared against the poor defense Cassel faced. Cassel finished the game strong, but against a better defense it isn’t hard to imagine that his numbers would have likely looked much different.

QB Christian Ponder

The gameplan for Ponder this week was similar to the very successful one used against the San Francisco 49ers in week three-use short, high percentage passes to move the chains and take what the defense gives you to avoid the pass rush. It didn’t hurt that the Lions’ pass rush seems defanged lately and they were only able to sack Ponder twice. The second year quarterback is looking more and more comfortable with each game, and did a good job reading the defense and moving through his progressions without panicking when there is pressure. A lot of the offense is very simple at this point-short passes that at times look predetermined. Whether that is Ponder choosing out a receiver before the snap or a pre-planned choice ahead of time is hard to say. Ponder was also able to involve Jerome Simpson as well without any real issue or speed bumps. The ability to go deep is one the Vikings haven’t had the chance to do and while they didn’t force the ball long, they took advantage of Simpson’s speed and size. Two of the longer attempts to Simpson drew pass interference penalties and extended drives that were faltering.While the team is not going to just air the ball out-it’s clearly not Ponder’s strength at present-they are not afraid to take some shots downfield. If there was a down point for Ponder, it was an inability to find the end zone. The offense, while able to move the chains, was unable to find the end zone. Against a team which gets out ahead early, Ponder may find himself struggling to play catch up when he can’t rely on shorter passes and the ground game.

RB Mewelde Moore, Rush: 14 - 57 - 0, Rec: 6 - 63 - 0 (9 targets)

Moore was the leading rushing and receiver in the game for Minnesota. He had 57 yards on the ground on 14 carries and pitched in with another 63 yards in receptions. Moore appears to have solidified his role as the starting running back for the Vikings with another solid performance on a struggling offense.

RB Michael Bennett, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 31 - 0 (2 targets)

Bennett was not a factor in the game with his only carry going for negative yards. Bennett did have a 20 yard reception late in the fourth quarter to help set up the Vikings’ only touchdown.

RB Matt Asiata

While Jerick McKinnon had all the long runs, Matt Asiata did the dirty work and ran a lot of short yardage plays, and got three touchdowns from the six yard line or less. On all three scores, he barreled his way over defenders and through arm tackles. He doesn’t have anything like breakaway speed and won’t create a lot of plays on his own but he runs hard and his physicality will wear defenses down. On He is a nice compliment to McKinnon and on one play absolutely blasted a defender to clear the way for the smaller back.

RB Jerick McKinnon

The rookie out of Georgia Southern started things off with a fantastic 55-yard run in the second quarter. On the play, the offensive line destroyed the Atlanta Falcons defensive front, and Matt Asiata (out of the fullback spot) obliterated a linebacker opening a huge hole for McKinnon. The rookie showed great burst as he hit the second level, then some nice moves as he made several tacklers miss, then cut back across the middle of the field. He showed some patience as well, slowing down and letting his blockers do their job before bailing back inside. McKinnon also showed some strength and determination on shorter runs where the space to run wasn’t there and he gained positive yards anyway. If there is one thing McKinnon seems to still be working on, it’s catching the ball as he had a pair of drops to go with his one 17-yard reception. McKinnon almost had a touchdown at the end of the second quarter, as he ran up the gut but fell just short of the goal line. Overall he looked very good against a defense which seemed to have no answers for the Vikings ground game.

RB Adrian Peterson (2 targets)

Peterson was the focus of the Vikings offense early in the game, but did not get enough touches for his yardage totals to be as impressive as his play. The Packers did have him bottled up several times, but he always seemed to manage to fall forward to pick up a couple yards on a play that looked to be going nowhere. His best run of the day was off tackle to the right where he made untouched going through the hole. He made a nice cutback on a defensive back and turned on the speed down the middle of the field, but was eventually tackled by Nick Collins after a 55 yard gain. Peterson was the primary kick returner, and came out of the game after a couple long returns. With Chester Taylor in the game, the Vikings were not as successful maintaining drives, so by the time Peterson was ready to get back into the game, the Vikings were almost ready to punt. Peterson was not a factor in the passing game with only two targets. One of which was a throw-away by Holcomb avoiding a sack.

WR Travis Taylor, Rec: 5 - 62 - 0 (9 targets)

Taylor was the leading target for Culpepper in the game and had five catches for 62 yards. He will continue to see plenty of playing time while Nate Burleson remains sidelined with an injury.

WR Troy Williamson, Rec: 4 - 39 - 1 (5 targets)

Williamson saw all of his catches in the second half including a 16 yards touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter. He broke free on a corner route and was wide open for the pass from Culpepper. It was the second touchdown in the last two games for Williamson.

WR Marcus Robinson, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)

Robinson was not a factor in the game and saw his only catch late in the fourth quarter.

WR Koren Robinson (1 targets)

Robinson played an insignificant role in the game and saw his only target underthrown and intercepted by Atlanta. He continues to most of his time on special teams.

WR Devin Aromashodu

f you’re only going to have one catch on the day, a 34 yard touchdown is a good one to have. Aromashodu had just a step on Carr, but that was all he needed with McNabb’s perfectly placed throw in the end zone. Aromashodu did show good concentration on the catch as he went to the ground. As good as that play was, he was not involved in the passing game the rest of the day.

WR Greg Jennings

It wasn’t the quantity with Greg Jennings on Sunday, but the quality. Four targets is a pretty low number but when two of them are touchdowns, it’s hard to complain. Overall the Steelers did a pretty good job of covering Jennings, including on the very first target. The ball was slapped down by Cameron Heyward but might have been picked off by safety Ryan Clark who was right on top of Jennings. On the next target, Jennings showed why the Vikings were so interested in having him on board. On the play, Jennings ran a short route down the sideline, tined and caught a short seven yard pass, then turned and made cornerback Cortez Allen miss. Jennings then broke upfield and cut inside, making another defender miss. After that he accelerated and while two more defenders dove at his feet, they weren’t stopping him from scoring. His other touchdown involved a lot less running, though plenty of effort anyway. On the play, Jennings began his route by running towards the end zone, then took a step towards the outside corner. While he sold the outside step, Jennings then pivots inside and it’s all the defender (again Cortez Allen) can do to keep his feet. Cassel puts the ball high and where only Jennings will get it and the receiver hauls it in for the score.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson

As has been the case all year, Cordarrelle Patterson was rarely used in the pass game, relegated to just a pair of passes and a lot of kick return work. However, Patterson made what was one of the biggest plays in the game early on when he was targeted by quarterback Matt Cassel on a first and ten play in the Steelers’ end. On the play, Patterson ran a streak down the sideline and while he positioned himself between Cassel and cornerback Ike Taylor, Cassel threw it closer to the sideline and right into Taylor’s hands. Patterson saved the interception by slapping the ball away from Taylor’s hands and breaking up the pass. It was a very heads up play by the rookie and allowed the Vikings to continue and kick a a 54 yard field goal and take the lead.

WR Jarius Wright

Wright had just the one catch, on a short out which gave him some room to add another three or four yards to the play. Other than that, Wright was on the field just 20 more snaps and Cassel just rarely looked his way.

TE Jermaine Wiggins, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (3 targets)

Wiggins caught all three of his targets for 25 yards. His big play in the game was a 15 yard reception as he found a seam against the zone and Culpepper threw a strike to him.

TE Jim Kleinsasser, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)

Kleinsasser had just two catches in the game for just 13 yards.

TE Rhett Ellison

An H-Back by trade who mostly lined up at the tight end position because Kyle Rudolph is hurt, Rhett Ellison is an athletic option who can run the ball or catch it. He was the target on one pass by rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater where the quarterback made an outstanding playaction fake, drawing in the Atlanta front seven and leaving Ellison wide open in the flat. As there was nobody anywhere near him, Ellison ran the ball upfield, though his lack of speed limited how far he got. Ellison was also the target on a two-point conversion. On the play he motioned into the formation from wide right, then immediately ran a short out route along the front of the end zone. Nobody pursued him and Bridgewater had an easy pass to make for the conversion.

TE Chase Ford

More of a move tight end than H-back Rhett Ellison, Ford got more of the snaps which required route running and pass-catching. Ford almost made an amazing catch along the back of the end zone when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a jump ball while under pressure, but couldn’t land the catch in bounds. It was an amazing display of athleticism and vertical ability as he out-jumped the defender and snagged the ball and he was just inches from sticking the landing as well. Ford's last target was on a batted ball which sailed over his head and almost got picked off.

TE Kyle Rudolph

His 41 yard catch was really about a 7 yard out. When Rudolph turned up field there was nothing but green and he ran unabated for about 3o yards before a Chief came near him. What’s deceiving is that his catch for -2 yards was actually a much more difficult one handed grab (McNabb threw it behind him) but he was clocked before he even had a chance to turn. Also had a Shiancoe-like 5 yard grab but unlike most of Shiancoe’s catches, Rudolph was short of the marker.

PK Paul Edinger 1 - 1 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points

Edinger was perfect on his only attempts in the game. He put the Vikings on the board in the third quarter with a 43 yard field goal. He also made his only extra point attempt of the game.

MIN Rush Defense

The Vikings’ rush defense was shredded by the Falcons’ ground game. Minnesota gave up an overwhelming 285 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. The Falcons’ averaged seven yards per carry against a depleted Minnesota defense.

MIN Pass Defense

The Minnesota pass defense numbers look pretty good considering they held Atlanta to just 88 yards passing and one touchdown. However, Atlanta did not need to pass the ball due to the dominant ground attack that Minnesota just could not seem to stop.

QB Matt Schaub, Pass: 5 - 14 - 39 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 56 - 0

Schaub relieved Vick in the second quarter and contributed to the Falcons’ rushing game with 56 yards of his own. He did not dazzle the crowd with his passing number, just five completions for 39 yards but he did keep the Falcons in control and did not have any turnovers.

QB Michael Vick, Pass: 6 - 8 - 49 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 58 - 0

Vick played well before the injury to his right knee gathering 58 yards rushing and throwing for a touchdown. He appeared to be headed for a huge game against a weak Minnesota defense, leading Atlanta on two touchdown drives on their first two possessions. Vick completed a five yard touchdown pass to TE Alge Crumpler and the Falcons never looked back as they dominated Minnesota. The injury to Vick appeared to be minor and Coach Mora elected to play it cautious and leave Vick on the sideline. Vick was walking on the sidelines and should be expected to play next week against New England.

QB Matt Ryan

Ryan was forced to put the ball in the air a career high 41 times as Atlanta was unable to establish much success on the ground. Ryan showed good composure, but is not at the stage of his career where he can carry the Falcon offense. Ryan looked good when the Falcons surprised the Panthers by going to the no-huddle offense during their second drive. He efficiently managed the team by mixing in runs and short passes and led the Falcons to a field goal. Afterwards, Atlanta curiously ran very little no huddle until late in the game.

Ryan showed good arm strength, but most of his passes were relatively conservative. His longest completion went for 23 yards. Ryan’s second attempt of the game was nearly catastrophic; it was intercepted and returned 29 yards for a touchdown by Richard Marshall, but the play was negated by a roughing the passer penalty on Julius Peppers.

RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 18 - 126 - 1, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)

Dunn led the Falcons with 126 yards rushing and a touchdown. The touchdown was the 50th of his career. His 37 yard touchdown run was the best play of the game for Atlanta as he took the handoff from Schaub off left tackle, found a small opening and made his way back towards the middle of the field before leaping for the end zone.

RB T.J. Duckett, Rush: 14 - 40 - 1

Duckett played his usual role as a power back and provided 40 yards to the Falcons’ total and a touchdown. He scored on Atlanta’s second possession taking the handoff from Vick and powering his way into the end zone for the one yard score.

RB Justin Griffith, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)

Griffith played well leading the way for Dunn. Late in the second quarter, Griffith has his first rushing attempt of the season, a five yard gain off right tackle.

RB Devonta Freeman

Freeman continues to perform well enough to maintain quota of opportunities in the offensive game plan, but he’s not doing anything special enough to earn additional chances. He stumbled his way to a six-yard gain in the second series on a Matt Ryan swing pass that had too much air under the ball. Freeman made a nice catch, but the poor placement didn’t do Freeman any favors ater the catch. Other than a five-yard gain off left guard, the rest of Freeman’s work wasn’t noteworthy. Based on the first month of games, Antone Smith is the best back on the depth chart behind Steven Jackson right now.

RB Steven Jackson

Atlanta was more consistent with giving Jackson carries between the tackles and pointing the big back downhill this afternoon. After trying to pull a guard to the left side for a minimal gain, Atlanta went to Jackson with a downhill play to start the second series and he gained nine yards. Jackson then pushed off guard for another five yards, but the play after he was held to no gain on a counter play. Atlanta used four different backs during the first two series of the game and continued to go to a committee. When Jackson was in the game, he did a fine job of running through wraps and bouncing off hits. He came a half a yard shy of the goal line in the first half, which set up a play action pass to the wide open fullback for the score. Jackson had two runs to the outside in the second half – one off tackle for a first down despite penetration wrapping the runner at the ankles in the backfield and then a fourth-quarter attempt he bounced outside without success. It appears Atlanta’s optimal game script for Jackson is 10-14 touches with most of them between the tackles.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

Rodgers got four carries early in the game, but Turner is still clearly the man. The Falcons showed a lot of trust in him, sprinkling Rodgers into the game plan with regularity. He made a big play in the final quarter on a simple catch in the flat, but then he flashed some nice moves to get a 10 yard first down out of the deal.

RB Antone Smith

Smith’s first opportunity came in the first quarter and he picked his way through the line of scrimmage for a first down on 3rd and 2. He earned a second consecutive carry, breaking a tackle on a pitch to the left flat and earned three yards. In the third series of the game, Smith made a nice cutback off left tackle and earned nine yards near mid-field. These were all good plays, but Smith’s best effort came on a sweep to right end in the second half to give Atlanta its first lead. Smith’s acceleration was electric and it caused the cornerback on the right edge to miss tackle attempt on the runner’s way to a 48-yard score. If there’s a runner with the potential to eat into Rodger’s looks, it could be Smith because he’s gradually earning more opportunities. Smith had four touches to Rodgers’ five and.

WR Brian Finneran, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (6 targets)

Finneran led the Falcons’ receivers with three catches for 31 yards. His first catch put the Falcons inside the ten yard line setting up Duckett’s touchdown run. He also contributed with a nice 15 yard grab that put Atlanta in Minnesota territory prior to Dunn’s 37 yard touchdown burst.

WR Roddy White, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (4 targets)

The rookie receiver caught the first passes of his career in the game. White had two catches for 12 yards both receptions were for first downs. He was also a deep end zone target late in the game but the pass was over thrown by Schaub.

WR Michael Jenkins, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)

Jenkins was not a factor and caught his only target of the game for a 12 yard gain.

WR Harry Douglas (6 targets)

Douglas caught two short passes for eight yards. One of the receptions was a nice grab in traffic, but Douglas also dropped two passes, including a key one that would have given Atlanta a first down in Carolina territory. He was the targeted receiver on Matt Ryan’s intercepted pass that resulted in a touchdown for Carolina. However, the play was negated by a penalty.

WR Devin Hester

The former Bear almost scored in the first half on a double-move against cornerback Xavier Rhodes, earning a step on the corner. However, the defender knocked the ball loose from Hester’s grip in the end zone on an excellent throw. Matt Ryan later overthrew Hester on a drag route and the receiver had to make the catch near the boundary at an angle where he couldn’t turn up field for a positive gain. Hester’s biggest play was a quick swing pass on third down for a 36-yard score. Hester fought through a wrap and spun off a hit for most of the yardage up the right sideline. He also put an effective shake move on a defender to earn 15 yards up the left flat on a fourth-quarter pass. Hester actually had the most productive day among the three Falcons receivers.

WR Julio Jones

Jones has obviously earned the confidence of Matt Ryan, earning a whopping 17 targets in this game, in which he outshined teammate Roddy White. Jones made the most out of his short receptions in the early going, turning a routine short crossing route into a 30 yard gain. Ryan continued to use him in this way, and we saw that Jones has good, sure hands -- and he’s FAST, often able to break away from coverage after the catch. To start the second half, the Falcons changed things up and threw long to Jones down the sideline. It was a good throw but he wasn’t able to catch it in tight coverage. Jones would continue to be used as a deep target as he had a sneaky habit of getting behind the defense. Ryan actually seemed to underthrow him a bit, so that part of their game continues to be a work in progress.

TE Alge Crumpler, Rec: 3 - 16 - 1 (8 targets)

Crumpler did not have a big game but did manage to collect his first touchdown reception of the season. He executed a fake block on play action pass; Vick hit Crumpler with the pass and Crumpler reached across the goal line for the score.

TE Dwayne Blakley, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)

Blakley caught his only pass of the game in the first quarter. The reception was a leaping catch thrown by Vick for a ten yard gain.

TE Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez was held in check by the 49ers defense most of the game, but made several nice catches, again showing the kind of trust that exists between him and Matt Ryan. Ryan did have an errant pass to Gonzalez which looked like a miscommunication on the part of the QB. Gonzalez played a key role in the Harry Douglas touchdown as he drew away the underneath coverage from CB Nate Clements to allow space for Douglas. Gonzalez got so much respect from the 49ers that CB Nate Clements lined up on him several times. This wasn’t a statistically big game for the future Hall of Famer, but he played a good role nonetheless.

TE Levine Toilolo

Toilolo dropped a flat route on 2nd and 7 early in the second quarter near mid-field. He was able to bail out Matt Ryan who fumbled a snap on 3rd and 3 from the Vikings’ 15. Toilolo settled into the middle of the field and caught the ball inside the five for the first down, setting up an eventual touchdown pass to the Falcons’ fullback off play action. However, Toilolo’s biggest impact in this game came when center Joe Hawley left the game with a leg injury and it forced Toilolo to play right tackle due to a lack of healthy offensive line depth. Toilolo played tackle for the entire fourth quarter and he allowed defensive end Brian Robison to blow by him. This forced Matt Ryan into the arms of linebacker Anthony Barr for a sack. Although there was speculation that Toiolo would one day be converted to tackle when he was at Stanford, look for the Falcons to sign a veteran lineman if no one on the depth chart gets healthy for Week 5.

PK Todd Peterson 3 - 3 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 12 points

Peterson had a nice game connecting on three field goal and three extra point attempts. He was successful from 38, 26 and 39 yards away.

ATL Rush Defense

The Falcons’ rush defense held Minnesota to just 63 yards in the game and no touchdowns. Minnesota was forced to abandon the running game after falling behind early.

ATL Pass Defense

The Atlanta pass defense was successful in containing Culpepper and allowing 250 yards through the air. Keith Brooking and DeAngelo Hall each had an interception in the game for Atlanta. Atlanta also put plenty of pressure on Daunte Culpepper and was able to sack the Minnesota quarterback a total of nine times, one shy of the team record.

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