First take: Vikings at Saints

Tonight’s game between Minnesota and New Orleans lived up to its billing once again, with both sides fighting hard for the opportunity to win late in the contest. It certainly wasn’t pretty for either team, with both clubs struggling in areas they usually excel at, but the overall outcome has to be pleasing for the NFL as a whole.

The game basically boiled down to three key parts for me:

  • The Saints ability to control the clock via their running game in the second half
  • Lack of an effective passing attack for the Vikings
  • A non-existent pass rush from Jared Allen and company

Whenever they needed to, the Saints were moving the ball seemingly at will against the Vikings, and a big part of that had to do with their ability to shut down Minnesota’s vaunted front four on passing plays, giving Drew Brees more than enough time to read the field and find the open receiver. Credit the entire New Orleans offensive line for understanding what to do in almost every situation, and working together as a group to shut out Allen and his teammates.

I was surprised that the Vikings were so inept in their passing game, especially in the second half, and while a lot of that could be laid at Brett Favre’s feet, not having Sidney Rice on the field hurts way more than anyone in Minnesota was letting on. Expect the Vikings to address their receiving corps soon, either with a trade (Vincent Jackson anyone?) or through the waiver wire.

Equally shocking was the Saints choosing to literally run the ball down the Vikings’ throats throughout much of the second half. Teams rarely are capable of doing what New Orleans did tonight against Minnesota’s front seven, and while it didn’t amount to as much on the scoreboard as the fans probably would have liked, the Saints have to be happy with the toughness shown tonight by Pierre Thomas.

All in all, tonight’s contest was yet another outstanding show put on by two teams that are likely to be there when it matters most once again this season, and as a fan, you really can’t ask for much more. Football is finally upon us and we will undoubtedly be treated to much more where this came from as the season progresses.

Here’s a quick look at the early reactions around the league on this game… as always, feel free to leave any thoughts you have in the comment thread.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Tim Rohan) – Give the ball to Peterson ‘All Day’

NFL FanHouse (Chris Burke) – Vikings vs. Saints: Quick Hits

The Viking AgeSo Brett Favre doesn’t need camp?

SB Nation (Michael Tunison) - Saints come away with ugly win (Adam Rank) – We waited all summer for this?

Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Jim Souhan) – As it turns out, practice has value

ESPN NFL Nation (Kevin Seifert) – Rapid Reaction: Saints 14, Vikings 9

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