A Capsule Look at this Week's Colts Opponent, the Minnesota Vikings
Synopsis: The Colts on Sunday lost their regular-season opener for the first time since 2004, and lost to an NFC team for the first time since 2006.
The task gets no easier this week.
The Colts, the five-time defending AFC South champions who lost to Chicago, 29-13, in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, will face another NFC team, the Minnesota Vikings, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Vikings, despite a season-opening loss in Green Bay Monday, are expected to contend for the NFC North title, and are widely considered one of the NFL's most-talented teams, with second-year running back Adrian Peterson considered one of the league's top young talents.
"He has amazing speed," Colts President Bill Polian said of Peterson this week. "He's big and shifty. He can bounce, which makes him much, much more dangerous than (Chicago Bears running back Matt) Forte was. You know where he (Forte) is. He's going downhill. There's going to be a collision when he gets there, but you know where he's going.
"Peterson can bounce. He can shake and bake. He can make you miss. He's really a complete back and he's a great pass receiver. You match him up on a linebacker and it's all over.
"He's an incredible weapon."
Peterson rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the Vikings' loss to Green Bay Monday, a loss that left the Vikings a game behind the Bears and Packers after a week.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, a third-year veteran from Alabama State, emerged as the Vikings' starter last season, completing 171 of 294 passes for 1,911 yards and nine touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He had a touchdown pass against Green Bay and was intercepted on the Vikings' final drive to clinch the Packers' victory.
The Vikings were involved heavily in the free-agent market this offseason, signing wide receiver Bernard Berrian – the Chicago Bears' leading receiver – as well as safety Madieu Williams from Cincinnati.
The Vikings last season also featured not only one of the NFL's best offensive lines, but a solid interior defense featuring Pro Bowl tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams that helped the team lead the NFL in rushing defense.
The Vikings, coordinated by former Colts defensive assistant Leslie Frazier (2005-2006), finished 20th in the NFL in total defense a year ago, then acquired defensive end Jared Allen in a trade from Kansas City. Allen led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 last season and has 43 in four seasons.
"He joined the Vikings via trade and made them a much better football team," Polian said. "Leslie (Frazier) was looking very hard to get some pass rush. He got it, and you add that to an already pretty good front four and they're a pretty formidable operation."
2007 Record: 0-1, T-3rd in NFC North.
Head Coach: Brad Childress, 3rd season as Vikings and NFL Head Coach (14-19).
Last game: The Vikings lost to the Green Bay Packers, 24-19, at Lambeau Field on Monday Night. After ranking first in the NFL against the run last season, the Vikings allowed Packers running back Ryan Grant to rush for 92 yards, including a key 57-yarder that set up the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. As a team, Green Bay rushed for 139 yards. Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was intercepted by Green Bay safety Atari Bigby at the Packers 39 to end the Vikings' final comeback attempt.
2008 NFL Rankings: Offense – 8th overall (355.0 yards per game); Rushing, 3rd (187.0 ypg); Passing, 20th (168.0 ypg); Defense – Overall, 18th (317.0 yards per game); Rushing, 21st (139.0 ypg); Passing, 16th (278.0 ypg).
2008 Leading Passer: Tarvaris Jackson (16-35, 178 yards, 45.7 pct., 1 TD, 1 INT, 59.0 rating).
2008 Leading Rusher(s): Adrian Peterson (19 carries, 103 yards, 1 TD); Tarvaris Jackson (9 carries, 65 yards, 0 TD).
2008 Leading Receiver(s): Garrett Mills (3 receptions, 49 yards, 0 TD); Bernard Berrian (3 receptions, 38 yards, 0 TD).
2008 Leading Sacker(s): None.
2008 Turnover Breakdown: Minus-1 (0 forced, 1 committed).
First-round draft choice: The Vikings did not have a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft after trading it as part of a deal to acquire defensive end Jared Allen. With their second-round selection, the Vikings selected Tyrell Johnson, a safety from Arkansas State University.
Johnson, the second safety selected in the 2008 draft and the Vikings' highest-drafted player at the position since they selected Orlando Thomas No. 42 overall in 1995, was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
A three-time All-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection – 2005-2007 – Johnson registered 13 career interceptions, starting 46 of 46 career games.
Johnson started the Vikings' opener in place of Madieu Williams (neck), registering two tackles in the loss to Green Bay.
Key free agents acquired: Bernard Berrian (Chicago), WR; Michael Boulware (Houston), S; Gus Frerotte (St. Louis), QB; Maurice Hicks (San Francisco), RB; Benny Sapp (Kansas City), CB; Thomas Tapeh (Philadelphia), FB; Madieu Williams (Cincinnati), S; Ellis Wyms (Seattle), DT.
Key free agents lost: Spencer Johnson (Buffalo), DT; Mewelde Moore (Pittsburgh), RB; Tony Richardson (New York Jets), FB; Dontarrious Thomas (San Francisco), LB; Tank Williams (New England), S.
2008 Review: The Vikings lost to the Packers, 24-19, at Lambeau Field on Monday Night.
After ranking first in the NFL against the run last season, the Vikings allowed Packers running back Ryan Grant to rush for 92 yards, including a key 57-yarder that set up the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.
As a team, Green Bay rushed for 139 yards. Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was intercepted by Green Bay safety Atari Bigby at the Packers 39 to end the Vikings' final comeback attempt.
The loss put the Vikings in third place in the NFC North, a game behind Green Bay and the Chicago Bears.
Last time in Playoffs: 2004.
Last time in Super Bowl: 1976.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2007 Pro Bowl Selections: Matt Birk, C; Steve Hutchinson, G; Adrian Peterson, RB; Tony Richardson, FB; Darren Sharper, S; Kevin Williams, DT; Pat Williams, DT.
Quotable I: "(We) put ourselves in a position to be able to come back up the field and win it, and unfortunately the only turnover of the game ended it. I think it's all about us developing consistency. We really lost this thing as a team, offense, defense, special teams. . . . Back to the drawing board."
--- Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress
Quotable II: "It's a huge disappointment as far as internally, as far the players in here feel. We understand it's only one of 16 games, but right now we've got a taste of disappointment. We lost, we got a chance to beat a division team and we dropped the ball.''
--- Vikings Wide Receiver Bobby Wade