First off, let's start off with a big "Congratulations!" to Antoine Winfield on being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his outstanding performance last night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Winfield was a thorn in Michael Vick's side all night, constantly blitzing from the corner position and registering not one, but two sacks of Vick on the evening, one of which resulted in a Vick fumble and the subsequent 45-yard return by Winfield to tie the game going into the locker room at halftime.
The Vikings didn't have a lot of guys that you could potentially argue as being Pro Bowl snubs this season, but Winfield is probably on the short list. After all, while the Vikings' secondary as a whole has been pretty bad this year, very few of the big plays that they've given up have come at the expense of #26. He's not a spring chicken any more, but there aren't many corners in this league that I'd trade the guy straight-up for.
More after the jump.
-As far as the Vikings' coaching search? Just go ahead and take the "interim" tag off of Leslie Frazier now. Keep Darrell Bevell and Fred Pagac as the offensive and defensive coordinators, too. . .particularly Pagac, after that brilliant defensive scheme he put together last night. (Pssssssssssst. . .hey, every playoff team in the NFC. . .Michael Vick has some trouble handling the blitz. . .pass it on.) The Vikings came in with the clear plan to get after Vick, and that's exactly what they did.
My particular favorite example of this was when the Eagles ran a bit of an option play that saw Vick attempt to pitch the ball to DeSean Jackson. Jared Allen got through the line untouched, and saw the play developing. . .at which point he said to himself, "You know, I can either chase this reverse, or I can beat Michael Vick's ass." He then proceeded to plant Vick into the turf.
Minnesota's defense played with what another Winfield. . .Jules. . .may have termed as great vengeance and furious anger. I'd like to know where this has been all season, to be honest. I'd also like to see it in 2011 with a (finally) healthy Cedric Griffin back at corner in a secondary that Madieu Williams isn't anywhere within 500 miles of on a weekly basis.
-Joe Webb made a lot of nice plays last night, but the one that stands out above them all is obvious, in my opinion. Moving the team down the field after the Eagles had scored to get within three at 17-14. After a 1-yard loss by Adrian Peterson and an incompletion in the direction of Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota was facing third-and-11 from the Philadelphia 47-yard line. The Eagles called a time out to ready themselves for the ensuing play. . .something that would come back to bite them later. . .and everyone in the stadium and watching on TV knew the Eagles were going to bring the house.
The house was indeed, as they say, "broughten," and Webb. . .as you'd expect from any quarterback that was drafted eight months ago with the intention of moving him to wide receiver. . .stood tall, looked into the teeth of the blitz, and fired an absolute laser to Percy Harvin for 19 yards and a Minnesota first down. AP took the ball for 27 yards down to the 1-yard line on the next play, punched it in the play after that, and the Eagles never seriously threatened again.
That throw that Webb made wasn't a good throw. . .it wasn't a great throw. . .it was a Peyton Manning/Tom Brady/Ben Roethlisberger-level throw. It was a "I'm going to destroy any momentum you might have" kind of throw. The Eagles thought that they had the Vikings right where they wanted them, and they may have. . .but Joe Webb got the job done. Lest the rest of the writers here corner the market on adding music to their posts and so forth, I would like to share with you what I'd now like to humbly refer to as "The Joe Webb Song." (WARNING: Potentially offensive language in said song.)
Let's see. . .what else.
-Speaking of Harvin, in what might be a bit overlooked, he had his fourth career 100-yard receiving game, and his third this season. He snagged seven passes for exactly 100 yards on the evening, including a beautiful 46-yard rainbow from Webb to start the second half on a play where he was getting absolutely mugged.
-Asante Samuel should have Week 17 off, courtesy of the league office, for the cheap shot he laid on Sidney Rice. This isn't Samuel's first trip to the helmet-to-helmet rodeo.
-Winfield's touchdown gave him a tie for the all-time Vikings' franchise record with four defensive touchdowns. He has two interception returns for touchdowns (against Chicago in 2006 and against Atlanta in 2007) and two strip/sack/fumble recovery touchdown trifectas (against Carolina in 2008 and last night against Philadelphia). He also had a blocked field goal return for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in 2008, which I guess counts as a special teams touchdown rather than a defensive score, if what we heard last night on the broadcast is any indicator. (Thanks to Percy Harvin My Fav! for pointing out the discrepancy.)
-Adrian Peterson got his 52nd career rushing touchdown, taking 60 career games to do so. He tied the record currently held by Chuck Foreman (who required 93 career games to get his 52 touchdowns) and Bill Brown (who needed 180 games to do so). He also had his first fumble of the season. . .fifteen games in. Said fumble wasn't even forced by a defender, but by his own teammate, Bernard Berrian (who, thankfully, is probably looking at his last game in a Viking uniform on Sunday). While it would have been nice for the NFL's best running back to go all season without a fumble, AP's streak this year was impressive none the less, particularly after what happened last season with him putting the ball on the turf.
That's really about it for tonight. . .as awesome as this last game was to watch, it's time to start looking towards the finale against Detroit and, hopefully, avoiding double-digit losses for the season. Have a good rest of your evening (or morning, wherever you're at), and we'll see you back here tomorrow.