2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings bursting bubbles on screen pass to Harvin

By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-10-10 17:11

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Percy Harvin took his place in the slot position, 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage and just off the right tackle. The Minnesota Vikings faced third-and-5 from the Tennessee 10, looking to put the game away late in the third quarter.

The Titans knew exactly what play they needed to be ready for, but Harvin still made it work for his second touchdown of the afternoon to further demoralize a struggling defense.

``They did a good job of trying to take it away, but he's Percy Harvin,'' Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said.

The ``bubble'' screen pass to the elusive, powerful Harvin is a favorite way for the Vikings to use their most versatile player. It also creates other opportunities for the offense, forcing opponents to brace for the ``bubble'' at the risk of ignoring another player. It's another example, too, of how an effective passing game in today's NFL doesn't necessarily mean a steady stream of long downfield throws to tall, traditional-size wide receivers.

According to research by STATS, Harvin leads the NFL with 329 yards after the catch, more than 80 percent of his receiving total of 407. The next closest player is Denver's Demaryius Thomas with 270. New England's Wes Welker is third with 264. Of Harvin's 38 receptions this season, 22 have been at or behind the line of scrimmage.

New England has been especially good at this, with one of the true stars of the slot in nine-year veteran Welker.

``You get the ball to your guys in space, and you see if they can make guys miss,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said, adding: ``You can throw really a low-risk pass for sometimes a significant reward. Those are always good plays in the offense where you're not trying to squeeze it in to four defenders for a 7-yard gain. You throw it to a guy who's open. He makes a guy miss and gains 14.''

That's what happened last Sunday, when Ponder pivoted right and threw perfectly parallel to the line so Harvin could catch it with a running start and avoid the risk of a fumble if he was too deep. Harvin ran four yards backward in a half-circle - hence the ``bubble'' descriptor - before planting and accelerating forward to grab the ball in the air.

He made four Titans miss badly, the first one with a slick stop-start cut at the 12 and the second one with a similar hesitation move at the 10 before banging off a third defender at the 7. The last one who had a chance, cornerback Jason McCourty, whiffed at the 3.

``He runs the ball just as hard as Adrian Peterson. He's not worried about getting tackled. He's running through arm tackles. That makes him very dangerous for the fact that usually you don't see a guy out there at receiver that has that type of power and strength to stay up,'' McCourty said.

The Vikings sure aren't ambushing anyone when they call the play.

``You hear all the defenders calling out `bubble, bubble, bubble!''' Harvin said. ``It gets a little nervous, but actually I have full confidence in my blockers.''

The widest receiver, in Sunday's case Michael Jenkins, has to clear the man covering him out of the way. Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who lined up outside of Harvin and has the most important job on this play, has to stay square in front of the defender he's trying to block to give Harvin the option of darting to either side. Also, the tackle on the side of the throw has to keep the defensive end from reaching too high so he can bat down the ball. Detroit did that with Cliff Avril the week before. The Lions were all over Harvin, actually, holding him to three catches for 22 yards. One of them went for a 2-yard loss.

``Rudolph, he comes to me repeatedly before the game or during practice, letting me know that I shouldn't have anything to worry about,'' Harvin said. ``Just run my bubble as fast as I can, and he's going to handle it.''

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he only called the ``bubble'' screen pass once against Tennessee, though the Vikings practice it often. They can run the ball out of the same formation or, if the defense overcommits to take the sideways throw away, use an underneath shovel pass to Harvin instead. The Titans were in a zone coverage for that play on Sunday, a scenario in which Ponder is not supposed to send the ball Harvin's way.

``Rudolph was so confident that he could dominate that block that he wanted Christian to throw it no matter what,'' Harvin said.

These days, at 4-1, the Vikings are confident in a lot of plays. Especially the ones involving Harvin.

``He makes big plays even when you have the numbers from a defensive standpoint to make the play,'' coach Leslie Frazier said, adding: ``They had the numbers and an individual as talented as he is makes a play out of nothing.''

---

AP Sports Writers Howard Ulman in Foxborough, Mass., and Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

---

Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Brandon ColemanSep 2 10:03p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandon Coleman has impressed QB Drew Brees during training camp and the preseason. The quarterback said Tuesday, Sept. 2, that he has a great comfort level with Coleman.

Richard RodgersSep 2 09:43p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers is expected to see more opportunities in the passing game with WR Jordy Nelson (knee) done for the season.

Melvin GordonSep 2 08:23p

San Diego Chargers RBs Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Donald Brown will be part of a committee at running back this season, according to QB Philip Rivers. [ More ]

Randall CobbSep 2 07:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) said he'd be comfortable starting in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears even if he doesn't practice next week. However, wide receivers [ More ]

Giovani BernardSep 2 06:03p

Cincinnati Bengals RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard both finished among the top-16 running backs in point-per-reception leagues last season.

Tom BradySep 2 04:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn't look like he'll reach a settlement with the NFL. The league and the NFL Player's Associated have not had any talks regarding [ More ]

Victor CruzSep 2 04:03p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) is doubtful to play Week 1, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Dan Graziano. Cruz has not yet been cleared to practice and did not participate in the preseason.

LeSean McCoySep 2 01:43p

Updating an earlier report, Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) may not be in great 'football shape' once Week 1 rolls around, according to a source. He's not at [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 2 12:43p

Buffalo Bills RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) seems to be in some danger of missing the season opener Sept. 13. 'Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, [ More ]

EJ ManuelSep 2 11:33a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is expected to remain on the team as the backup quarterback. There is growing expectations that QB Matt Cassel will be cut.

Matt CasselSep 2 09:23a

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel could be cut by the team, as they are internally discussing the option.

Joseph RandleSep 2 08:33a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could have 10-15 carries per game with RB Darren McFadden slightly below that, in the opinion of beat writer Drew Davison

Travis CoonsSep 1 11:03p

Cleveland Browns PK Travis Coons edged out PK Carey Spear, winning the battle for the placekicking job. 'Yeah, it was close. I thought both guys handled themselves very well, [ More ]

Nick ToonSep 1 07:43p

New Orleans Saints WRs Nick Toon, Lance Lewis and R.J. Harris were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Randall CobbSep 1 06:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) thinks his sprained right shoulder will be good to go to play in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears in 12 days. [ More ]

James ButlerSep 1 05:53p

Green Bay Packers WR James Butler and TE Harold Spears were released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Julius ThomasSep 1 05:23p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) will undergo surgery on his injured finger Wednesday, Sept. 2, according to a source. Thomas is expected to miss four to five weeks.

Zac DysertSep 1 05:13p

Free-agent QB Zac Dysert (Broncos) was claimed by the Chicago Bears Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Tom BradySep 1 05:03p

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will know his fate by the end of this week. Judge Richard Berman said he will issue his decision and order by that time.

Matt BlanchardSep 1 04:53p

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Blanchard was released Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to a source.

Juron CrinerSep 1 04:32p

New York Giants RB Akeem Hunt (hamstring) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Juron Criner and Derrick X. Johnson and TE Will Tye were also waived.

Robert HerronSep 1 04:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Robert Herron was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Phil TaylorSep 1 04:23p

Cleveland Browns DT Phil Taylor was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Junior HemingwaySep 1 04:12p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Michael HillSep 1 04:12p

Dallas Cowboys RB Michael Hill (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, Sept. 1. WRs Antwan Goodley and David Porter and TE Brandon Barden were also waived.

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group