The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

October 6, 2012

Run-first plan remains guide for Vikings, Titans

(Continued)

MINNEAPOLIS —

Passing for 350 yards and losing the game is not at all an uncommon result in the league these days. Despite all the success teams like Green Bay, New England and New Orleans have recently with pass-heavy performances, some of the better NFL teams now tout balanced offenses and fierce defenses like Baltimore, Houston and San Francisco.

One quarter of the season is a small sample size, and other factors can skew the truth behind yardage totals. But only two of the top 10 rushing teams in the league so far this year have losing records, Kansas City and Miami. The Lions, Giants and Saints (ranked first, second and third in passing) are a combined 3-9.

So don't expect the Vikings or the Titans to drift from their strategy anytime soon.

"My confidence is sky high," Peterson said.

The Titans could use some of that. Their defense has been scorched often. The only game they won, against Detroit, they needed 44 points to do it. Stopping Peterson, then, is their top priority.

"He's been a workhorse. On film when you watch him, he looks really good. He's running strong. He's got that same speed, same strength that you're used to seeing out of him," said defensive end Kamerion Wimbley.

Matt Hasselbeck, the 14-year veteran, will start at quarterback for the Titans with Ponder's 2011 draft peer Jake Locker ruled out due to a dislocated non-throwing shoulder. Amid the noise of playing on the road against a team with a strong pass rush, though, the Titans don't want to rely on too many drop-backs by Hasselbeck to move the ball. Johnson, as usual, will be the centerpiece of the game plan.

Blocking for him at left guard will be Steve Hutchinson, who was let go in a cost-cutting youth movement by the Vikings after six seasons. Hutchinson still wanted to play and found a taker in Tennessee.

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