It would have really been pretty easy for the Minnesota Vikings to have folded up the tents at halftime of their game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon. After all, they had just allowed two touchdowns in a very short span of time, they had allowed 24 unanswered points to the Raiders, and had watched their superstar offensive player get helped off of the field.
But that's not what happened. The Vikings didn't roll over, and they almost managed to get themselves an improbable comeback victory in front of the home town fans. I know that there's no such thing as a "moral victory" in the NFL, but it was still good to see from a team that has a history of folding in the face of adversity.
Generally, I'm not this serene after a Minnesota Vikings' loss, but after this one, I'm more confident than ever that this team has a serious long-term answer at quarterback in Christian Ponder. Did the guy throw a few bad passes today? Yeah, he did. . .he tried to force a few things, and got burned as a result. He's a rookie. Rookies do those sorts of things occasionally. Learning how to play quarterback in the NFL means screwing up occasionally, particularly as a rookie. Heck, as somebody pointed out in the Game Threads, Troy Aikman went 0-11 as a rookie starting quarterback, and got his head beaten in for most of that season to boot. Even the great Peyton Manning went 3-13 as a rookie. Both of those guys wound up just fine, thanks, and there's no doubt in my mind that Ponder is going to wind up fine, too.
For the bad throws he made, he got off some really good ones, too, like the 37-yarder to Shiancoe that set up Kyle Rudolph's touchdown and the 42-yard pitch-and-catch with Devin Aromashodu that set up Percy Harvin's touchdown to start the fourth quarter. And, honestly, I don't know how the heck anybody can give the guy a fair evaluation with the offensive line he's playing behind every week. Ponder wound up being the Vikings' leading rusher today with Adrian Peterson being out, and it's not like he was running to make plays or running because that's how the play was designed. . .he was running for his life out there because he had about .8 seconds to react before he had a defensive lineman standing right next to him.
Frankly, for as maligned a group as our receivers are, they're not anywhere near as big a problem as the lack of pass blocking ability of our offensive line. Charlie Johnson just goes out and continues to get his butt kicked over and over and over and over and over and. . .well, you get the idea. With today's loss, unfortunately, we are officially in Matt Kalil territory for the 2012 NFL Draft, and a guy like that would go a long way towards fixing a lot of Minnesota's offensive problems.
The defense actually played pretty good football, in my opinion, despite what the final score says. Thanks to special teams miscues, the Raiders' touchdown drives were 53, 57, and 16 yards in length. Stopping offenses on a short field constantly isn't easy, but the Raiders' return guys constantly put them in good field position. Sadly, Jared Allen's streak of consecutive games with a sack came to an end today at 11, despite the Vikings dumping Carson Palmer four times. The sacks were registered by E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robison.
According to reports, an x-ray of Adrian Peterson's foot and ankle showed no broken bones or anything like that. He's scheduled for an MRI tomorrow to see if there was any other damage. Hopefully we'll know sooner rather than later.
It started out ugly, got exciting at the end, and ended with the Vikings just running out of steam. Discuss the game here, and thanks to everyone that hung out in the Game Threads to share it with us. We really do appreciate it.