Jeff George, the passer who revived the Minnesota Vikings Sunday and repulsed the San Francisco 49ers, 40-16, has always had the arm to do just that.
He is the living example of the truth that it takes more than a great arm to make a great quarterback.
At 32, George, who will see Denver and Dallas in his next two games, won his first Minnesota start because, as the new leader of a talented bunch that finished 15-1 a year ago, he doesn't have to carry this team.
Protected by one of the league's great blocking lines, he now only has to get the ball out there and let the four best receivers he's ever had make the plays.
The four--Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Jake Reed and underrated Matthew Hatchette--are just what George was looking for when, in the '80s, he moved from one Big Ten team to another, from Purdue to Illinois; and when, in the '90s, he moved from one pro club to another, from Indianapolis to Atlanta, Oakland and, finally, Minnesota.
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49er Coverage Irrelevant
It has been said that no position in any sport is as demanding as football's quarterback position.
Accurate passing is but part of it, but it's the part that George is famous for. And it was the decisive part Sunday.
Repeatedly, he could do what every quarterback longs to do: jam the ball into closely guarded receivers.
Thus, it was irrelevant that the 49ers had Moss nicely double-covered on the 25-yard sideline pass that set up Minnesota for its first score, 7-0.
Next, on an 80-yard play, George effortlessly bombed Hatchette with a first-down throw as Minnesota stepped out to 14-10.
To make it 24-13 at the half, he slipped the ball seven yards to tight end Andrew Jordan when the 49er defense was busy with three Viking wide receivers.
Finally, in a no-back, five-receiver formation in the second half, George wasn't rushed or even hurried by any 49er when, on a third-down, two-yard play, he chose Carter to catch his other scoring pass.
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49er Offense Rolls Only 3s
Although the 49ers are hopelessly deficient this year in two places--their offensive line and defensive backfield, whose trouble is the legacy of former executive Carmen Policy--their starters played as if they expected to win.
Their problem could be stated mathematically: The San Francisco offense rolled 3s--a field goal in each of the first three quarters--while Minnesota was making 7s.
The pattern was set in the first quarter when, after long drives, both sides tried to run on first and goal and both failed.
OATES ON FOOTBALL
This is How Jeff George Did It
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