Coming into the 2011 season, I thought the Vikings were a legitimate 8-8 team, and with some good quarterback play and a couple lucky breaks, they might push for a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
I am a dope.
We saw, yet again, a combination of stupid penalties, inopportune defensive breakdowns, and horrid turnovers that resulted in the Vikings dropping their 8th game in 10 contests, this time to the Oakland Raiders. In other words, the exact same things we've seen replayed themselves...yet again...and the Vikings were on the short end of the stick.
Oh, and Adrian Peterson got hurt. You can't make it up, people, you can't make it up.
It's the same old song and dance. Take it away, Steven:
fate comes a-knockin', doors start lockin'
your old time connection, change your direction
ain't gonna change it, can't rearrange it
can't stand the pain when it's all the same to you, my friend
SMR, after the jump.
But through all that aggravation, I was somewhat encouraged. I saw some things I liked, and I will say I was heartened by the 4th quarter comeback. After a 24-7 hole, the Vikings had an opportunity to win the game. Granted, they didn't, but they didn't lay down and roll over, either. So, we have that, for whatever that's worth.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Christian Ponder, QB: Did Ponder have some ups and downs? Oh yeah, he sure did. Did he make some terrible decisions? Yep. But did he make some beautiful throws and smart decisions? Yep, he did that, too. I'll be the first to concede that those two picks down on the goal line were terrible throws, but I like the fact that this kid seems to have a short memory, and doesn't let that stuff bug him. He came back and threw two fourth quarter TD's, and overall, I think we keep seeing improvement every week.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: Every week this kid plays, the more I'm glad the Vikes drafted him. He seems to catch damn near everything thrown at him, and Ponder and Rudolph seem to be developing a solid on-field relationship. I've always said that one of the keys to the development of a young QB is a receiver or receivers he can trust, and Rudolph seems to be developing into that type of guy for Ponder.
Percy Harvin, WR/RB/KR/General Badass: Harvin seems to have that 'ooh' factor back. As in every time he touches the ball, 'ooh' he could house it. And maybe it's just me, but I think he might be the second best running back on the team behind Adrian Peterson. He averaged 4 yards a carry, and when he ran the ball, he did so with authority and decisiveness. Maybe nobody else was, but I was impressed.
Kevin Williams, DT: I thought we saw a lot of vintage Kevin Williams today. He had three tackles for loss, a sack, and was his old, reliable, disruptive self for a good part of the game. It seemed that when the Raiders got their yards on the ground, it was when they ran away from Williams, but that's just an anecdotal observation on my part.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE: Shiancoe only had two catches, but one was a huge 37 yard reception immediately after a turnover that got the ball down to the 1. I've really grown to like Shiancoe since he came here in 2006, and he's a guy that just goes out and takes care of business week in and week out.
Marcus Sherels, DB/KR/PR: It's just a matter of time before before Sherels returns a punt for a score, isn't it? He has a nose for making plays on special teams, and I really like that when he fields a punt return, other than making the first guy miss he's pretty much a north-south runner. He also had a good kickoff return, and I hope to see an expanded role for him in the secondary.
Steve Hutchinson, G. This pains me, because Hutch has been the best offensive lineman on the Vikings since 2006. But he had a terrible day. He gave up a sack, and lost a lot more individual battles than he won today.
Remi Ayodele, NT. This guy has been a colossal free agent bust. I've noticed Christian Ballard in the last two weeks than I have Ayodele all season. He gets no penetration, and as a run stopper teams are running right at him.
Asher Allen, CB. You know, it's not Asher Allen's fault he gets continually exposed against the top receiver the opposition has. He's a nickel back at best, and an average one at that, yet we continually see him opposite the best the opponent we're playing has. And that guy usually abuses Allen in unspeakable fashion. Which happened again Sunday.
Buy: The Fourth Quarter Rally. When you're 2-7 and down 24-7 going into the locker room at halftime, it would have been easy to mail it in, but I give the Vikings credit for scratching and clawing their way back into it. They had an opportunity to win it, as they got the ball back with three minutes, a timeout, and 71 yards to win it. THey didn't do it, but the fact that they were in position to win was impressive.
Sell: Red Zone turnovers. One of the reasons the Vikings were in such a big hole is because of two Christian Ponder interceptions deep in Raiders territory, and a kickoff return fumble that the Raiders recovered and converted into a touchdown. A team that is marginal on talent can't afford crippling turnovers, and every one of those was crippling.
Buy: Percy Harvin's Running: Already mentioned earlier, but Harvin is just a physical beast. He was fighting for every yard, and he really seemed to run with authority out of the backfield.
Sell: Toby Gerhart's Running: I'm willing to chalk this up as a bad day, because we've seen better days from Gerhart. I don't know, but he just never got any daylight to exploit, but he also seemed tentative when approaching the line of scrimmage.
Buy: The Emergence of Rudolph: Also mentioned, but I think it deserves a second look. With the youth movement that this roster needs, it seems that the writing is on the wall for Rudolph to take over from Visanthe Shiancoe next year, and he seems to be growing into that role with each passing week.
Sell: No Wide Receiver Emerging Opposite Harvin: Michael Jenkins had some success earlier this year, and while I think he was a solid addition, the Vikes will need to find a complement to Percy Harvin in 2012, be it Jenkins or somebody else. Devin Aromasodu had a nice catch and run, but he also dropped some very catchable balls. Ditto Greg Camarillo.
Buy: The Field Goal Block. That would have essentially put the game out of reach if the Raiders make that field goal, as it would have been 30-14 with about 11 minutes to go. Great play by the special teams unit.
Sell: The Rest Of The Special Teams Play, Except Kluwe's Punting. Chris Kluwe made some great punts, but the rest of the special teams play was a dumpster fire. Terrible kickoff coverage gave the Raiders great field position all day, a botched hold by Kluwe resulted in a missed field goal, and a fumble by Lorenzo Booker on a kickoff return allowed the Raiders to expand their lead to 24-7 right before the half. As a former helicopter pilot, I'm willing to give my fellow former helo pilot and special teams coach Mike Priefer some slack, but dude, get it together. You're making us look bad...says the guy who's blogging about the team as opposed to coaching them.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
One of the highlights of the week for me is watching the game with my Dad. He's old, doesn't give two hoots in Hell what anybody thinks about anything, and really has this 'Get Off My Lawn' attitude when it comes to expressing his opinion about our favorite team. And when you've hit 80, you know, you've earned that right. So I present you the Don Glover Quote of the week:
"This is a sorry ass team, with a sorry ass coach. But I like how they didn't quit. Still a sorry ass loss, though."
--Yes Dad. Whatever you say.
So I'm in a much better place after this loss as opposed to the one last week. Losing sucks, and being 2-8 sucks, but the more I see Christian Ponder play, the more I like him. Yes, he has his ups and downs, but that's to be expected. I'd like to see more of guys like Christian Ballard and Mistral Raymond to see what we've got heading in to next year, and of course, the ankle injury to AP is going to be the big news in the coming week.
So, now it's on to Atlanta to see if we can't make some noise down South.