Minnesota Take Five Rewind

Posted Oct 3, 2011

Reviewing five pre-game focus points from the Vikings game

The Chiefs found victory for the first time this season after winning all three phases of the game en route to a 22-17 victory over the Vikings. Let’s rewind our pre-game Take Five to see how the Chiefs found that result.

As always, pre-game focus points are in italics with post-game reaction in bold.

There’s a big difference between 1-3 and 0-4 - especially when kicking off a new quarter of the season on the road, followed with a bye week.

There’s plenty on the line Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium for both the Chiefs and Vikings. Let’s take five…

Minnesota Take Five

1) Play The Odds

This one seems too easy. Maybe it is.

Minnesota scores a load of first half points (outscoring opponents 54-7) and allows a disgusting amount of scores in the second half (outscored by opponents 64-6). Why even bother with a slow start on Sunday? The Chiefs are at their best when leading at the half.

For starters, the Chiefs haven’t led a game for a single second during the 2011 season. This team has played from behind throughout the entire year. That needs to end.

The Chiefs are successful when not having to play catch up.

Kansas City is 10-3 when leading at the half under Todd Haley, including a 9-2 mark a year ago. The Chiefs have also won five consecutive games when leading at the half. When the scoring margin is in Kansas City’s favor after three quarters, the club has posted an 11-2 overall record under Haley. The team was 9-1 in 2010 when leading after three quarters.

Why even bother with a second half comeback? It’s time to stop playing from behind.

The above trends held true as the Chiefs rushed out to take an early 3-0 lead over the Vikings. Kansas City scored on its first offensive possession, capping off a penalty-laden 12-play drive with a 40-yard Ryan Succop field goal. The game would feature five lead changes, but the Chiefs were able to head into halftime holding a 9-7 advantage thanks to a 51-yard Succop FG as the first half expired (his third FG of the half).

Kansas City led at the half, and after three quarters, further extending the team’s impressive results when not playing from behind.   

2) All-Day A.P. + Matchup Issues

Defending Adrian Peterson isn’t just about slowing down the All-Pro’s rushing game. It’s also about avoiding coverage mismatches with the play-maker in the passing game.

San Diego exploited several coverage matchups involving running backs and Chiefs linebackers last Sunday. Don’t think that Minnesota missed these personnel advantages on film just because the Chargers didn’t capitalize on the opportunities.

With the Vikings sitting at 0-3, expect their best offensive player to get his hands on the football early and often. This will involve getting Peterson involved in the passing game.

Minnesota tried to feed its offensive workhorse. They just didn’t have much success.

The Chiefs spent all week game-planning against Peterson and swarmed the football each time he touched it to limit the All-Pro to just 3.5 yards per carry (80 yards on 23 attempts). Only once did Peterson rush for more than 10 yards and he caught just one pass for three yards.

“We just kept working hard on every play, making sure we got some bodies around him, making sure we didn’t allow him to jump through a crack and turn it into a big run,” LB Derrick Johnson said.

Corralling Peterson was an 11-man effort.

3) D-Line Continuation

Kansas City’s fourth-and-inches stop of San Diego late in the fourth quarter was an exclamation point on a solid effort turned in by the Chiefs defensive line. Last Sunday’s performance is arguably Tyson Jackson’s best since arriving in Kansas City three seasons ago. Kelly Gregg had his best effort of the year and so did Glenn Dorsey.

That must continue on Sunday.

The Chiefs pressured Philip Rivers into making several mistakes in the passing game and also allowed free flow for linebackers and safeties to fill in the run game. Vikings QB Donovan McNabb has been known to chuck it around the yard, but he will also take advantage of defenses that give him time in the pocket.

Peterson will exploit any defensive line that doesn’t play well on the line of scrimmage.

Peterson didn’t exploit the Chiefs, which means the defensive line played an outstanding game. McNabb was sacked twice, which was nice, but the plays of the game came defending the pass.

Kelly Gregg and Tyson Jackson each batted down passes at the line of scrimmage on Minnesota’s final offensive drive. On one of the deflections, McNabb was trying to sling the football to TE Visanthe Shiancoe who running free in the Chiefs Red Zone.

Had Gregg and Jackson not gotten their hands on those passes, it may have been a different outcome at Arrowhead.

4) Unhappy Homecoming

Jared Allen would like nothing more than to come into Arrowhead Stadium and do some calf roping. Yeah, I’m aware that he’s stopped the calf roping act because of fines and flags, but something tells me Allen might feel that one final roping at Arrowhead is worth the repercussions.

Allen hasn’t played in Kansas City since being traded to Minnesota in 2008. To say that the divorce with the Chiefs was amicable…well, that’s not true…and Allen reminded everyone earlier this week that he still remembers that split (even if it might involve some selective memory).

Grudges aside, Allen is an elite pass rushing force. He’s already notched 4.5 QB takedowns in 2011 and owns the second-most sacks in the NFL since being traded to Minnesota.

The Vikings can probably withstand a 15-yard penalty for calf roping if Allen can log a multiple sack game. What the Chiefs probably can’t withstand is continued pressure from Allen. Kansas City’s tackles face quite the challenge.

It was the quietest two-sack performance we’ve see in quite some time. Multi-sack games typically lead to standout performances, but that wasn’t the case for Allen on Sunday.

In the end, we saw some of the weaknesses Allen portrayed as a member of the Chiefs. Though an elite pass rusher, Allen has a tendency to open rushing lanes with his wide and aggressive paths to the quarterback. The Chiefs tried to exploit that tendency.

When rushing at Allen’s right defensive end position, behind left tackle Branden Albert (and sometimes TE Leonard Pope), the Chiefs averaged 7.7 yards per carry (7 rushes for 54 yards).

Allen did break out the calf-roping routine following second quarter sack of Cassel. Only then did a few boos fill the air. Fans gave Allen a warm homecoming reception for the most part.

5) Hidden Heels

How in the wide world of sports are the Vikings 0-3?

Seriously…Minnesota runs the football well (5.8 yards per carry), doesn’t turn the football over (a league-low two turnovers) and gets after the quarterback (NFL top-five with 9.0 sacks). The Vikings also lead the league in rushing differential.

These are the kind of statistics that don’t add up to a winless record.

Much of Minnesota’s woes have come in less obvious areas of the game. Third downs, particularly in the second half, have been crushing. The Vikings are also one of the most penalized teams in the league and those penalties have played a large role in continued second half collapses.

When watching the game, key on third down efficiency and penalty yardage.

The Chiefs flirted with disaster throughout the day with Red Zone woes leading to field goal after field goal after field goal. Kansas City was unable to find any Red Zone TDs despite three trips inside the Vikings 20-yard line.

Despite the Red Zone struggles, Kansas City’s offense was able to deliver big plays at big times. Dwayne Bowe’s 52-yard fourth quarter touchdown reception was the most notable of four explosive plays that went for 28 yards or more.

Minnesota struggled equally in the Red Zone, converting just 1-of-3 trips into touchdowns. Kansas City held a slight edge in third down efficiency (6-of-15 for 40% vs. 5-of-14 for 36%) and both teams were flagged six times.

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