Former Ohio State coaching legend Woody Hayes once said 'nothing cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.' After the first four games, I think our football souls have been thoroughly cleansed.
This was a great win, from the opening kickoff to the final gun. The offense clicked (or at least avoided multiple three and outs), for the most part, the defense came up huge time and time again, Devin Aromashodu was a more than adequate replacement for Bobble Bobble, and Adrian Peterson was a man among boys for a good part of the game. It was a complete team win in every sense of the word, and the result was an Arizona soul cleansing.
It's nice to be able to be the cleanser for once, and not the cleansee, isn't it? So sit back, and for your listening pleasure, enjoy what is the theme song for your Minnesota Vikings:
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore
Grab an oar and meet me after the jump, where we'll break down the first win of the year.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Adrian Peterson, RB: Golfing legend Bobby Jones once said of Jack Nicklaus that his game was so good that 'Jack plays a game with which I am not familiar', and I really think that can be applied to Peterson. He has a knack for rising up just when he's needed the most, and elevates his play to a level with which mere mortals are not familiar. Is there still any debate as to who the best running back is in the NFL? I didn't think so.
Jared Allen, DE: Speaking of taking your game to another level, Jared Allen has stepped it up in a big way this season. He is not only a premier pass rusher, but he forces fumbles, intercepts passes, and creates general havoc for the opposing defense. Other than intercepting a pass, he did all of that on Sunday. On Sunday, when the defense needed a play, it seemed Allen was the guy to make it. He now leads the league in sacks, and I just took the whole 'Allen is washed up' meme and wiped my Aaron Rodgers with it.
Brian Robison, DE: So some of the best moves the front office makes are the players they don't sign. Let's just say that not signing Ray Edwards was a GENIUS move by the VIkings. Robison is a force, and Edwards has all but fallen off the face of the earth. Robison registered two more sacks on Sunday, and is now in the top 10 with 4.5 sacks on the season, while Edwards has 3.5 more tackles than Robison has sacks. And Allen has .5 sack more than Edwards has tackles. Just...wow.
Jim Kleinsasser, TE: He doesn't catch many passes. He doesn't run the ball when he's lined up as a fullback. He hasn't scored a touchdown since the Reagan administration. But Kleinsasser is probably the best RT on the Vikings. 'Ted, you silly, alcohol hazed 40 something, Kleinsasser is a TE'. Yes, yes he is, and I still think he's better than Loadholt. How many times did The People's Champion seal off the corner with a devastating block on a defensive end 1 on 1 against Arizona? Four times, five, six? In other words, about 5 or 6 more times than Phil Loadholt did, amiright?
Marcus Sherels, DB/PR: Whenever Percy Harvin fields a kickoff, catches a pass, or takes a reverse I have a belief that he can score, and I'm beginning to think that about Sherels as a punt returner. I really, really like his north-south running style on punt returns, and he almost always seems to make the first one or two guys miss. I think it's a matter of time before he gets more playing time on defense, and breaks one for a TD as a punt returner. I love this kid, and hope he is a Viking for a long time.
Devin Aromashodu, WR: For those of us that have been lobbying for the ouster of Bernard Berrian...which I think is everyone but Bernard Berrian's mom...we are feeling a bit of vindication. Aromashodu had a HUGE catch and run for 60 yards in the third quarter, and all but quashed the 'here we go again' feeling everyone...and I mean EVERYONE started feeling. Remember, Michael Jenkins had fumbled, the Cardinals punched it in to get it to 28-10, and it was now 1st and 20 after a lame holding call on The People's Champion. Boom, 60 yards by the District Attorney (Devin Aromashodu, DA, District Attorney---fast moving train people), Vikes are in field goal range, and my Dad and I put the bottle of bleach back under the sink. Did he drop a couple passes? Yes, but he was open, which is more than Berrian would have been.
Jamarca Sanford, S: So when was the last time a Vikings safety had two picks in a game? I'm going to go out on a limb and say Paul Krause, but I could be off. Today was a good example of what a ball hawking secondary looks like--the defensive backs have been more aggressive in coverage, and it's paying off with batted balls (and proper credit to the defensive line, too) and those eventually turn into picks. Granted, those batted balls need to be caught, and Sanford is starting to do that, and it's good to see.
Chris Kluwe, P: For a guy that had a bad hamstring, a 47.5 yard average on punts is pretty stinkin' respectable.
Fred Pagac, Defensive Coordinator: So when you have an offense that doesn't go three and out on every freaking series and gets you an early lead, we finally saw what a Fred Pagac defense can do when it's unleashed. The line had consistent pressure, the secondary had 9 defended passes--which has to be some kind of record--and it was SO much more enjoyable watching the aggressive man and press coverage as opposed to that soft zone they usually play. This is what I thought this defense was capable of doing, and if the offense can play a consistent game, the defense can, too. It was fun to watch.
Donovan McNabb, QB: That had to be the worst performance for a team that scored 34 points in recent memory. On some of his throws, I half expected to see a Tarvaris Jackson jump pass. I mean, he bounced a screen pass. And that's okay, if the play gets blown up, quarterbacks do that all the time. But when the receiver is open, and you miss him EASILY by 6 yards, you're terrible. I mean, could Christian Ponder or Joe Webb have done any worse? I have a hard time believing that they could.
Bernard Berrian, WR: I think it's safe to say that Bernard Berrian's days in Minnesota are numbered. At least I hope they are. From #1 receiver to inactive in a month is a fall about as fast as Joe Mauer from healthy to the DL, which takes about 11 seconds.
Phil Loadholt, RT: Are you guys as tired of Loadholt getting beat like a red headed step child on almost every play as I am? Granted, he's a 6'8", 300 pound red headed step child, but the original proposition remains. When I heard that Berrian had been deactivated, I half thought that DeMarcus Love might have been activated and maybe played a little bit. But we go with baby steps...first Berrian, then activate Love, then let him play. We still have 11 games to go. Be patient.
Buy: Lorenzo Booker's Double Reverse. I was wondering if Lorenzo Booker had become a forgotten man offensively. And that double reverse was a nice call. It looked and felt like the Harvin reverse, but the pitch to Booker threw everyone off, and it was a great play. Nice call, and I hope we see more of Booker in the weeks to come.
Sell: Percy Harvin Being Invisible. Was it me, or when Harvin did take a reverse and went 8 yards, did it seem like he was thisclose to taking off like a rocket and housing it? Your answer should be yes, by the way. Part of the reason for Harvin not being as big of a factor is due to McNabb's uncanny ability to not complete a pass, and his biggest contribution has been running the ball. Once he starts catching more passes he'll make an impact.
Buy: Jamarca Sanford's 2 Picks. We've already talked about the play of the defense overall and Sanford in particular, but the two picks were a big deal, for more than the obvious reasons. If the Vikings can start becoming an opportunistic defense and force turnovers, they very well might overcome the 0-4 start. Short fields lead to big points, as the first quarter demonstrated.
Sell: Tyrell Johnson Seeing The Field. I haven't, and more than likely won't, re-watch the game, but it seemed to me that every time Kevin Kolb completed a big pass (which to the defenses credit, wasn't very often) Tyrell Johnson was the guy giving the play up. Am I just being too critical here? No, I'm not? SWEET!
Buy: Holding Larry Fitzgerald, Jr To 66 Yards: That was a great effort by the entire defensive unit, and in particular the secondary. With Antoine Winfield out they needed to step up as a unit collectively, and they did. Chris Cook looks better and better with each passing week, Sanford and Husain Abdullah are playing like NFL caliber safeties, and although Cedric Griffin has been inconsistent, I think he's playing very well for a guy that is coming back from two ACL surgeries in two years.
Buy: Donovan McNabb's TD Run. It was a solid decision by McNabb to pull the ball down and run in for the score. It was vintage Donovan, and it was a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre day for him.
Sell: The Rest Of McNabb's Game. He is just not getting it done. With a back like Adrian Peterson, McNabb should be able to find weaknesses and exploit them through the air, and he isn't. The only guys that have been able to do so were Brett Favre in 2009 and Gus Frerotte (to a much lesser extent) in 2008. The win delayed the inevitable switch to Ponder for at least one or two more games, and as long as the wins keep coming the delay gets pushed back a little more. Some of his passes were just horrible throws, and it's difficult for the Vikings to develop any type of rhythm offensively, and I just think the Vikings should make the move sooner rather than later.
But you know what, those are issues that will still be there in a week or two. Let's enjoy this win and see if the momentum can't be continued. We've got a Sunday night tilt in Chicago, and a win puts the Vikings just a game and a half behind the Bears. One win leads to another, and two wins can be a season changer, especially a division game on the road.