Well, that was not exactly the never-ending fantasy buffet that many of us were hoping for.
Last year, New Orleans and Minnesota were the two highest scoring teams in the NFL, averaging 31.9 and 29.4 points respectively. On Thursday night, they combined to score just 23, as the Saints topped the Vikings 14-9 in a dog of a game. Adrian Peterson was the only player from either side who finished with more than 100 yards from scrimmage, and he barely hit the threshold (101 yards on 22 touches). Drew Brees(notes) passed for 237 yards and one score — a nice enough line, but not the sort of performance that clinches a win in the imaginary game.
In all likelihood, no fantasy owner took a commanding lead in Week 1 based on anything that happened on Thursday. If you happen to own New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley(notes), then you're particularly annoyed. That dude hooked two field goals wide left, missing from 46 yards in the first half and from 32 in the second. Is it possible that Hartley can only kick well when he's under extreme pressure? Is he the anti-Kaeding? Hartley was a perfect 5-for-5 in the playoffs last season, nailing three field goals from 40-plus in the Super Bowl and hitting an overtime game-winner in the NFC title game. But on Thursday, he didn't help at all. Almost no one did.
Here are a few additional scattershot observations…
• Brett Favre(notes) did not impress, going 15-for-27 through the air for just 171 yards. He threw an interception to Jonathan Vilma(notes), and nearly had another ball picked off by Malcolm Jenkins(notes). Not unlike last season — which began with a pair of low-risk, low-yardage games — Favre established rapport with tight end Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) (4-76-1), but there weren't many big plays downfield. In his postgame comments, Favre sounded like … well, like a man who blew off training camp. This from Yahoo!'s Michael Silver:
"I think the timing was a little bit off," Favre said at the start of his postgame media briefing, then later added: "Overall, I just missed on some throws I should have made."
Said Shiancoe: "The plays were all there, honestly. We had good plays called, and we could have capitalized. [After the touchdown] I was ready to see the offense get going. I felt like we could’ve kept scoring on them. We left a lot of plays out there. In the words of Denny Green, 'We let ‘em off the hook.'"
That they did. Favre was sacked just once, as the Saints seemed to drop everyone into coverage much of the time, thus smothering Minnesota's receiving corps.
• The Saints ran down the clock on the Vikings, giving Pierre Thomas(notes) 10 touches in the fourth quarter. PT eventually finished with 71 rushing yards on 19 carries — not a bad effort against a solid run defense. He also broke the plane on a short-yardage carry. New Orleans spent the first half in pass-only mode, picking on DB Asher Allen(notes) mercilessly, so Thomas was barely a rumor for the first 30 minutes of game time. Reggie Bush(notes) seemed lively enough, finishing with 47 combined yards, although he looked ridiculous while trying to vault Allen in the first half.
• Eight different receivers finished with multiple receptions for New Orleans, which is something you'll just have to get used to. That's how these redistributionists like to play it. We should note that Lance Moore(notes) (3-23) was as involved as anyone. Robert Meachem(notes) caught three balls and dropped a touchdown. Devery Henderson(notes) caught two passes, including a TD, but he also failed to go full-extension on a sideline route that Brees barely overthrew.
• Percy Harvin(notes) did nothing of note, which makes him a nice buy-low candidate this week. The root cause of his migraine issues has apparently been identified (details here), he's the presumptive No. 1 wideout, and he's a dangerous player when his brain cooperates. Make an offer. Also worth noting: Greg Camarillo(notes) will clearly get more involved in the Minnesota gameplan. His only catch on Thursday went for 29 yards, and Favre was locked on him from the snap of the ball. Camarillo nearly made another nifty grab on an off-target throw. The guy is a proven chain-mover who rarely drops a thing.
• Just so there's no misunderstanding, Peterson WANTS THE BALL. A lot. All day, in fact. Here's another dose of Silver:
Was Peterson tired after the game? "Not at all," he answered.
Did he want the ball more? "I’ll do whatever it takes," he answered. "Whatever it takes to help this team win. I don’t know if Coach [Brad Childress] heard me, but I remember walking by in the second half on the sideline saying, 'Hey, give it to me. Feed me.' I don’t know if he really heard me. But there’s a lot to learn from this game."
If the game's most violent/punishing/brilliant runner demands to be fed, then Childress needs to feed him.
Please join us in comments, where hopefully MDS will drop by to explain how the Vikings actually won on Thursday, while technically losing…
Photos via US Presswire (creepy fans) and Gett Images (Deuce & PT)