Friday, September 10, 2010

Vikings Childlike Joy Level Not High Enough To Knock Off Champs

(1-0) SAINTS 14, (0-1) VIKINGS 9

If you have Adrian Peterson on your team, and your defense holds an offense as potent as the Saints' to 14 points, in the Superdome no less, that should equal a huge season opening win over the Super Bowl Champs.

It didn't though, and I blame Brad Childress for inexplicably abandoning the run after his team fell behind 14-9 in the second half.

He did this even though there was more than a quarter left to play, even though he was down by only one score, even though he has arguably the best running back in the game, and even though Brett Favre had only Visanthe Shiancoe to throw the ball to with any confidence at all. That's just stupid coaching, so who knows, maybe Favre was right with his rumored assessment that Chili doesn't know how to run an offense, it sure looked like it last night.

Contrast that with the Saints, who seemed to take control of the game the moment they stopped being afraid to run the ball. They ran it 3 times in the first half, and trailed 9-7 going into the locker room. After Pierre Thomas plunged it in to give the Saints the lead, it seemed to take away their fear of the Williams Wall, and they had no problem running it for the remainder of the contest, shortening the game and running out the clock without giving Favre a chance to lead one last comeback drive. The Saints had confidence in their running game with Pierre Thomas, and the Vikings didn't with Adrian Peterson. That don't make no sense.

I admire what people like the Football Outsiders are doing trying to Sabremetricize the NFL, but I've got to disagree with one of their main tenets, that it's a myth that a strong running game leads to victory. They maintain it's the other way around, that victory breeds big running totals because you're trying to run out the clock. In this game, if the Saints weren't able to run the ball effectively, they wouldn't have won, because they wouldn't have been able to hold that 14-9 second half lead and keep Adrian Peterson off the field. One team had confidence in its ability to run, and the other team, for whatever reason, did not. Guess which team won.

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