Week 1: 5 Plays That Won The Game

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My hope is that I can turn this into a weekly recurring post that highlights 5 of the biggest plays from the previous game. Yesterday’s game against the Rams wasn’t short of big plays, let’s take a look at the impact of each.

#1: Josh Robinson’s Interception.

Robinson came up big with a very nice pick right before halftime. I’m not sure we’ve seen ball skills like this from a cornerback in a very long time. I believe the Vikings were playing zone here and Robinson does a nice job reacting to the quarterback and uses his athleticism to make a fantastic catch on the sideline. More importantly, this play took place at the best time. The Vikings had come off a series of short drives and the ability to get points on the board before halftime was a game changer in my opinion. Ultimately, Robinson’s play created the momentum that was carried into the 2nd half.


#2: Cassel to Jennings Touchdown.

Coming off the Robinson interception, the Vikings were poised for points with great field position. Up to this short drive, it seemed like the Vikings were continually pinned deep in their own territory. When given the opportunity, Norv Turner took advantage and dialed up a series of plays that ended with this nice touchdown connection between Cassel and Jennings. This score gave the Vikings a 13-0 lead going into halftime and helped set the tone for the rest of the game.


#3: Patterson Touchdown Run.

Probably the highlight you will see the most this week, and for good reason. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson dazzled everyone with this 67 yard touchdown run. What I found interesting with this play was that Matt Asiata was actually lined up as the single back, with Patterson motioning into the backfield from the right. Asiata had already received a handful of carries prior to this play, so the defense assumed that Asiata is in there to give Adrian Peterson a breather. Once Patterson motions to the backfield, however, Asiata becomes a lead blocker and makes an excellent block for Patterson at the 2nd level. Patterson goes on to do his thing and adds yet another play to his highlight film.


#4: Harrison Smith Pick Six.

As reported late last week, Zimmer was assuming the majority of play calling responsibilities for the defense in week 1 and it was awesome to watch him unleash it. Harrison Smith’s interception return for a touchdown ultimately served as the final dagger to a Rams team that already seemed defeated. Smith has proved to have a nose for the end zone and this interception is no different. As everyone has noticed and commented on, how about the speed of Everson Griffen? He wastes no time getting down field to help create a path for Smith to find the end zone untouched.


#5: Everson’s Sacks.

So play #5 is actually two plays, but they happen back to back. Griffen had been relatively quiet for the most of the game, but comes through with back to back sacks on Rams quarterback Austin Davis. At this point in the game, the Vikings had completely taken over and the defense was just creating walls of defenders. Linval Joseph had a nice sack, and Sharrif Floyd played a heck of a game, but Griffen’s back to back sacks stand out to me.

If I had to pick, I think Josh Robinson’s interception was a biggest play leading to the victory in St. Louis. Although it felt like we were in control for the majority of the 2nd half, the 1st half was mostly back and forth with the Vikings stalling on offense a bit. The Robinson interception was crucial from a momentum standpoint and created additional energy on the Vikings sideline. By positioning the Vikings deep in Rams territory prior to halftime, Robinson’s play set the tone for the rest of the game.

I want to hear from you, though. What play do you think contributed the most the week 1 win?

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Brent LaBathe

Brent LaBathe (Contributor) Cloud technology leader by day, sports nut by night, Brent is a local purple diehard who's passion for the team boarders on obsession. After graduating from St. Cloud State in 2008, he was a contributing writer for and has always had a passion for writing. When he's not cursing his golf clubs for failing him yet again, he's constantly on twitter @BrentLaBathe.

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  1. Agreed, it’s gotta be the Robinson pick. There was no flow to the first half at all, especially considering all the penalties, so despite the purple lead, everything felt completely up in the air. All of that changed when a Vikings corner not only stole the ball back, but did so on a great heads-up play, rather than just an errant throw or other QB mistake, which isn’t a combo the Vikings have been producing the last couple years.

  2. First of all, it’s nice to actually have 5 (or 6) plays to choose from. Not sure we had so much of that these past couple of years. Second, the Robinson pick is clearly the play of the game, at least in my mind. It turned the game firmly our way and we never looked back. I like the “5 Plays That Won the Game” concept and look forward to many more of these write-ups this season.

  3. Have to go with the pick as well. But, a close second is Adrian’s check down reception on third down that resulted in 1st and goal. He didn’t get ‘cute’, instead, he got right up field for a gritty 1st down. That was a crucial first down to allow us to get a touchdown, rather than settling for another FG.

  4. Yep, the Robinson INT.
    And I’d like to see at least 12 more of “5 Plays That Won the Game” this year.”

  5. Naw man….Patterson’s run pretty much nailed the win down. Not taking away from Robinson’s pick, it led to the 1st TD. And was at a crucial time. But that run was unreal. It really took away whatever hope the Rams had away. BAM…67 yard TD.

  6. Lot’s of great play’s to choose from… However, Patterson’s run was one of the best I’ve seen, and against a highly rated defense no less! Also, watch the blocking on that play – awesome!

    However, I feel the real key to the game was the coaching on each side of the ball. Everywhere you look, players are turned loose to do what they do BEST, not forced into some preconceived idea or plan. These players are really excited about these coaches… and it shows on the field.

    Zimmer’s defensive plan to pressure up front along with press coverage was so refreshing to watch. Using player to do what they do best – love it.

    However, I was thrilled with NORV!’s game plan on the other side of the ball! Smart, patient play calling. He did not allow the Ram’s strength (pass rush) to become a major factor. The Vikings had terrible field position on their early drives NORV! did not try to get out of those bad field situations with 7 second drop backs going for the home run. A steady diet of running and short intermediate passing was the smart, effective choice. I’ve read posts on some sites complaining about AD’s quite day (most backs would love 75yrds every week!) and several have even called Cassell’s effort poor. Folks, this was team football, coached by smart coaches and executed by smart, tough, talented players who wanted to win more than to pad their stats.

    The Vikings put up almost 200 rushing against a very good defense this past weekend. What is really exciting is Miami lit up the Patriots for about 200 on the ground as well. Now, I know Brady can make any team look silly, but if our front can pressure him like they did the Rams, I like AD and Patterson knifing through the Pats vulnerable defense for about 200 as well and a Vikings WIN! 2-0… I like the sound of that.

  7. Love how you can hear “NO!” shortly after Hill releases that ball.

    Have to agree… The Robinson INT was the turning point in the game.

  8. 3rd Runner Up – Jenning’s sweet toe-tap on that touch down reception. It looked like Cassel was paying attention to Bridgewater’s bucket drops and dropped one of his own. Nice.

    2nd runner up – J-Rob’s INT, because no one, none of us, saw that coming. I don’t think the Rams thought it was even a possibility that Robinson was a coverage threat like that, it was like a bolt from the blue. Not just the head’s up play, but he got both feet in-bounds too. Great location awareness.

    1st runner up – Harrison Smith’s INT. Smith hung WAY back, baiting the QB into it before swooping in. I know the QB was being hit as he released but the ball was still on target. I love seeing that kind of ball-hawking from a safety, and I hope Smith continues to improve in that area.

    Ultimately, I have to give the biggest play to CP84’s jet sweep because it was such an epic run. Crazy great.

    Two more players that deserve mention; on Smith’s play, Everson Griffin lead the way to the endzone. That big man is FAST, and plays with great head’s up awareness. The other was Adam Thielen, who ran interference for CP84. Without those guys, the scores might not have happened.