In a game with two mediocre 2011 offenses and two running backs who were questionable to do much more than a few plays, we got an exciting return to football season. Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert looked much better than their first seasons would indicate and looked very much in control of their offenses. Gabbert went 23/39 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Ponder completed an impressive 20/27 for 270 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
The real story was the effectiveness of a returning Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew. Peterson was coming off a season ending ACL and MCL tear to his knee but still managed to 17 attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns. MJD looked good as well in his return following his holdout with 19 carries for 77 yards.
While both teams looked fairly evenly matched throughout, it really came down to late defensive stands. Despite limiting the Vikings in the first quarter, the Jaguars defense broke down and allowed five scoring drives in a row, ultimately allowing the Vikings back in the game after a late touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts put the Jags up 23-20.
A beautiful 55 yard field goal from the Vikings put the game into overtime and the Jags ended up losing 26-23 following a field goal by the Vikings after winning the coin toss. It was an impressive offensive push late in the game by the Vikings, ensuring that they were able to topple the Jags in a game that seemed winnable to both teams.
While it will probably be a rebuilding year for both teams, they both looked to make a statement early on. Based on what the game showed on Sunday, both teams are doing much better than anticipated. Unless the Jaguars D has taken a step backward and the Vikings’ D-line has done the same, then these offenses have greatly improved, especially in the passing game.
It’s a tough day for Jaguars fans after seeing the team finally put up enough yards and points in a game to win and seeing it all crumble due to the inability of the defense to stop the Vikings. For Vikings fans, it’s an electrifying beginning to the season.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims