Notebook: Percy Harvin has another impressive performance in defeat
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MINNEAPOLIS -- There haven't been many memorable moments for the Minnesota Vikings this season, but wide receiver Percy Harvin has put on some impressive displays of late.
A week ago Sunday, Harvin had eight receptions for 95 yards with a 39-yard touchdown in a 24-14 loss at Atlanta. He also carried the ball five times for 11 yards and added a 104-yard kickoff return late in the game that put the ball at the Falcons 3-yard line.
On Sunday, Harvin caught eight passes for 156 yards with two touchdowns, including a 52- and 48-yarder, and gained 19 yards on five rushing attempts in a 35-32 loss to the Denver Broncos at the Metrodome. The Vikings dropped to 2-10 with the defeat.
Both of Harvin's touchdowns came in the second half and were a result of him doing most of the work after he made the catch.
Harvin's performance came after he missed Friday's practice because of an illness. He has long been plagued by migraine headaches but that issue seems to have been under control this season.
It's not known exactly what was wrong with Harvin last week but clearly he was fine on Sunday.
Harvin said he took no satisfaction from his own performance.
"No, we are still losing football games," he said. "I'm not a big stats guy, never have, never will be. We are losing football games."
Harvin wasn't used on kickoffs throughout much of the game but he did get a chance late in the fourth quarter with the score tied. Prater, however, booted the ball 9 yards deep in the end zone and Harvin took a knee.
Harvin admitted he was tempted to bring the ball out.
"Definitely," he said. "But that is one thing (special teams coordinator Mike) Priefer talks about. If it's about 7 or 8 yards deep, we want to keep it in. We don't want to possibly have our offense start at the 10-yard line."
Said coach Leslie Frazier of Harvin's day: "He's an amazing athlete. He wasn't feeling too good on Saturday. He went out and played a good game. He's a great player, great competitor and has no quit in him at all. He's going to fight right down to the end."
Harvin, who said he came out of the game feeling fine, watched as his former Florida teammate, Tim Tebow, led the Broncos to the victory.
The two spoke after the game. Harvin had refused to talk about Tebow last week, making it clear he wanted to focus on his own team.
"We are great friends," Harvin said. "As you see, he is a great competitor. I'm a fan of the guy, always will be. He did a great job of leading his team like he always does.
"He's a winner. He is a leader. What you hear about him, you may think it's too much. But that's what he is. You see it team after team he goes to. You've got to believe in the guy. He is a great leader and I have tremendous faith in him. I am just disappointed he got us today."
Defensive end Jared Allen said he would have bet his paycheck that Tebow would not beat the Vikings passing the ball.
But that's exactly what Tebow did on Sunday.
He ran only four times for 13 yards - easily his least productive rushing day since taking over as the Broncos' starter - and completed 10 of 15 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns.
It was the first time this season Tebow has thrown for 200 yards in a game. Tebow's 149.3 passer rating also was easily his best as he improved to 6-1 as the Broncos starter.
"The dude lit us up. I can't say nothing about that," Allen said. "Hats off to him, he's a competitor, the guy really is. Kudos, I guess."
The Broncos had 48 yards of net offense in the first half, including 13 passing, but 288 yards in the second half, including 173 through the air.
Vikings defenders said Denver didn't really change anything.
"We came in (the locker room) at halftime and (offensive coordinator Mike) McCoy just held the script and said, 'This isn't going to change, you have to look in the mirror and you have to change,'" Tebow said.
One for the record book
Allen tied an NFL record when he forced a safety for the fourth time in his career.
It came on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage. Denver was at its own 1-yard line after Chris Kluwe had pinned them there with a punt. Running back Willis McGahee was handed the ball in the Broncos end zone and stuffed by Allen.
"That's the first I heard of it," Allen said when told of the record. "I will look back at that. That stuff is nice for the offseason, to reflect, but right now I'm trying to do what I can. I look at plays that I possibly didn't make to help our team win."
Ted Hendricks (1969-83) and Doug English (1975-85) also forced four safeties in their career.
Allen had one sack Sunday, giving him 14.5 on the season.
Despite the Vikings subpar record, Allen has no plans to shut it down with four games left.
"I'm going to be the one to fight this thing through to the very end," he said. "That's what they pay me to do, that's what our fans expect. This isn't Minnesota Viking football. It really isn't and I can't apologize enough to our fans."
On the run
The Vikings' run defense was once one of the best in the NFL but that is no longer the case.
The Broncos, in fact, went right at the Vikings defensive tackles in the second half as they rushed for 102 yards in the final 30 minutes.
McGahee rushed for 111 yards on 20 carries and had a 24-yard touchdown.
It was the second time this season a running back has gone for 100 yards against the Vikings, and the second consecutive game at the Metrodome it has happened.
Michael Bush rushed for 109 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown in Oakland's 27-21 victory over the Vikings on Nov. 20.
Getting his chance
Rookie Brandon Burton, a fifth-round pick by the Vikings, saw his first action on defense Sunday, playing extensively at the left corner. (Antoine Winfield is out for the season and Asher Allen did not play again because of a shoulder injury.)
Burton appeared to be responsible for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas' 40-yard reception in the fourth quarter that led to the field goal that tied the score. However, that play came in zone coverage and Burton should have gotten some help that never arrived.
"There's nothing that beats experience and the more snaps you get, the more time you play, the more comfortable you get out there," Burton said of getting an opportunity. "So it was very valuable."
The real challenge
Frazier was criticized last week for not challenging a play late in the fourth quarter in which Harvin appeared to get into the end zone for a touchdown against the Falcons.
Frazier later admitted the communication between himself and the coaches up in the booth who tell him when to challenge had to improve.
It appears those improvements have been made.
Frazier challenged two calls made by the crew of referee Terry McAulay on Sunday and was successful on both.
The first came in the opening quarter when McGahee was ruled down on a play in which cornerback Cedric Griffin appeared to force a fumble and safety Jamarca Sanford recovered. McAulay overturned the on-the-field decision and gave the Vikings the ball at the Broncos 36.
The ensuing drive ended with a 40-yard field goal from Ryan Longwell.
In the second quarter, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas caught an 11-yard pass from Tebow on third down right along the Denver sideline. Frazier challenged, at the urging of several players who were on the field, and it was then ruled Thomas hadn't gotten both feet in bounds.
Winning both those challenges, meant Frazier was rewarded with one more if he had needed it.
It didn't hurt that the Vikings were playing at home and thus replays of any close calls that could favor the team were quickly shown on the replay boards inside the stadium for all to see.
• Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu was the target of 15 passes from Ponder on Sunday. He caught six of them for 90 yards. Despite his success, the Broncos defense often did not seem to account for Aromashodu. "That's just the coverage ... they wanted to make us throw the ball," he said. "I think most of the receivers were pretty open in most of their looks. They were trying to make Christian beat them and I think he did a good job."
• With Adrian Perterson sitting out a second consecutive game because of a high ankle sprain, running back Toby Gerhart rushed for a career-high 91 yards on Sunday. Gerhart's career-high had been his 77-yard performance on Dec. 20, 2010 against Chicago.
• Sage Rosenfels, who was claimed off waivers from Miami on Friday, was in uniform as the Vikings' No. 3 quarterback. He is wearing No. 18 in his second stint with the team after having the No. 2 the first time around. Rosenfels had wanted 18 when he first joined the Vikings in 2009 but could not work a deal with now ex-Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice to get it. Rosenfels had a house in the Twin Cities when he played here but has since sold it and now lives with his family in Colorado.
• Joe Webb was used at quarterback and wide receiver Sunday, throwing a first-quarter pass to Harvin. Webb also was the target of a 28-yard completion in the third quarter that was nullified because he was called for offensive pass interference. "I was pretty surprised," Webb said of the call. "I didn't feel that I pushed him hard enough to the point where, 'Oh, I know it's a pass interference.' But the refs saw it in a different way and I can't do nothing about it."
• Injury report: Defensive end Brian Robison suffered a concussion in the third quarter and did not return. Linebacker Chad Greenway injured his shoulder but was able to return and said he was fine afterward.