The Vikings opened their game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday with something that Vikings' fans have not seen all year--sensible use of Joe Webb, Lorenzo Booker, and Visanthe Shiancoe. Unfortunately for Minnesota, execution did not meet design and the Vikings were forced to punt after five plays from scrimmage.
The ensuing punt hit the one-quarter-foot line where, thanks to the intelligent play of Jamarca Sanford, the Vikings were able to down the ball just short of the endzone. That downing led directly to a safety on the Bronco's first play from scrimmage.
After receiving the resulting free kick, the Vikings immediately went to work on one of the few weaknesses in Denver's defense, attacking with both Shiancoe and Kyle Rudolph, moving Percy Harvin inside, outside, and in the backfield, and even using Webb at quarterback. The result was a quick drive inside the Bronco's ten-yard-line.
That's when Bill Musgrave reverted to form, calling a mind-boggling sequence of plays culminating in Christian Ponder's fumble on a rushing attempt. Rather than using either Booker or Harvin in the backfield, Musgrave sent in uber-plodder Toby Gerhart. On first down, Minnesota ran a pitch play up the middle to Gerhart--a play destined to go nowhere the moment it was drawn up. The sloth-footed Gerhart obliged predictions losing one yard on the play; a quicker Harvin or Booker might have split whatever seam the Broncos were allowing on the play, but such a lineup would be antithetical to Musgrave Ball.
On second down, the Vikings attempted a swing play to Gerhart on the right side of the line. Gerhart predictably picked up two yards and the Vikings were faced with third and nine. Clearly, this was the place for a quarterback keeper up the middle--at least in this Vikings' World.
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