Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said that his dud of a debut against the Packers last week “left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Fortunately for him, Sunday’s game against the Colts has plenty of fuel for a redemptive performance.
Not only will he face a coveted Colts offensive line that he become a proven menace against in his time in the AFC with the Jaguars, but he also has unsettled beef with newly acquired quarterback Phillip Rivers.
Rivers is a notorious trash talker in the league and isn’t afraid to mix it up with some of the big guys who chase him, including Ngakoue.
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‘Get the F*** Out of Here’
When the Chargers faced the Jaguars in Week 15 last season, there was a sequence in the game where Ngakoue hit Rivers in mid-throw and knocks him to the ground, later picking him up. The throw went for a touchdown and Rivers, in his classic gunslinger excitement, began to shout in Ngakoue’s ear.
“Ninety-yard touchdown! Ninety. Yard. Touchhhdownnn!”
An official even intervened, “Hey get the f*** out of here.”
“Hey 17 — you seen I ain’t talking to him,” Ngakoue turned and told the ref before catching up with Rivers.
“Stay humble bro, stay humble,” Ngakoue told Rivers.
“I can be excited.”
“Yeah, but don’t do that by my ear,” Ngakoue said before Rivers replied with some bark.
“I will do it by your ear, I will do it by your ear. That’s what I do.”
The Colts are surely relieved that they don’t have to face Ngakoue twice a year anymore with the Jaguars, but Sunday’s reunion could prove vital for the trajectory of both franchises who are winless after Week 1 and could fall into the harrowed 0-2 club.
The Colts boast the best offensive line per Pro Football Focus, but Ngakoue has insight into how to beat them. In eight games, he’s tallied 6.5 sacks, 37 pressures and two fumbles. His presence could be the difference-maker on defense as the Vikings struggled to stop Aaron Rodgers last Sunday, pressuring him on only seven of 44 dropbacks and failing to register a sack.
Colts coach Frank Reich told Twin Cities media that “obviously we were happy” about Ngakoue leaving the AFC South “then of course we see right away he’s going to Minnesota and we’ll see him Week 2. We have a lot of respect for Yannick in this building.”
Rivers averaged nearly as quick of a release time (2.27 seconds) to Rodgers’ against the Vikings (2.25 seconds). Getting to him early and tightening up coverage may be the deciding factor of the game if the Vikings offense isn’t able to put up the same type of performance it did last Sunday.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.