A rookie kicker and the best running back of this generation power the Vikings to a big road win in St. Louis
Two of the biggest question marks the Minnesota Vikings had entering the season were about the rookie kicker that missed a ton of field goals his senior year at Georgia, and the offense going through a running back trying to return from a knee that got Daunte Culpepper'd against the Washington Redskins last December.
Remember when we thought it was smart to sit Peterson the first six weeks of the year? Remember when we thought cutting Ryan Longwell and going with an inaccurate rookie kicker was dumb?
Funny, I don't remember that either.
It will be a crime if Peterson doesn't win the MVP award or the comeback player of the year award, and it will be a crime if Walsh doesn't win the special teams rookie of the year. If such an award exists.
Danny Amendola just spiked a chicken and kicked your grandma.
Yeah, it's all right. We're doin' fine.
Your tribute to Army Aviation SMR follows. Because helicopters are bad ass.
Blue Chip Stocks
Adrian Peterson, RB: Stud. Complete stud. Bad ass American. Reminds me of an AH-64 Apache in full attack mode. When he trucked Janoris Jenkins, I almost felt sorry for Jenkins. But then I just laughed at Janoris Jenkins instead. I'm sure we all did. Poor Janoris Jenkins.
Blair Walsh, K: That sounds you just heard was the balloon popping on the Greg Zeuerlein hype. Walsh went 5/5 on field goals today, including a 50 and a 53 yarder. Zeuerlein had one attempt, and duck hooked it through the windmill, off the clown face, and into the Mississippi river. Rick Spielman, you're a genius with this pick.
Everson Griffen, DE: When Brian Robison went down with a shoulder injury, Griffen was going to be put into a situation that he hasn't been in--a lot more snaps than a relief guy, and he delivered in a big way. Solid pressure from the outside, ridiculously good zone coverage skills--just a great game.
The Offensive Line. Adrian Peterson is one of the best backs of all time, I think we cal all agree on that. But against 8 and 9 man fronts, the offensive line did one heck of a job opening a hole and getting him to the second level, where he can go L1, L1, L-WTF did he just do on a poor linebacker. The Rams did a great job bottling up AP in the first quarter, but the line adjusted and got AP enough daylight to do some damage.
Danny Amendola just spiked a puppy and kicked a homeless vet.
Christian Ponder, QB: If the Vikings are going to win, Ponder needs to play like he did today. A lot of completions, not a lot of yards, but enough to keep the chains moving to respect the passing game. And no turnovers. He did that today, and he did it well. He still had some moments of panic, but he also stepped up and made some nice throws that two or three weeks ago, he wouldn't have even attempted.
Chad Greenway, LB: Greenway had another quietly solid game, registering 13 tackles and a sack. I didn't realize he was in on so many plays, but as I watched part of the game again, he was around the ball on almost every play.
A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson, CB's: I thought both Robinson and Jefferson had particularly poor games. Yes, I'm the Vikings went into a safe deep zone for a good part of the second half, and maybe part of the strategy was letting the Rams complete the short stuff, and to keep the ball in front of them. But still--they did not have a good day.
Danny Amendola just spiked three baby kittens, took away the candy of a four year old girl, and clawed out the eyes of an usher. Really, Danny, when you're down by 30 points, act like you've been there before. And that you're getting your ass kicked.
Buy: Going for it on 4th and 1 at the Rams 7 on their first drive. If the Vikings are going to transform into legitimate contenders, they need to develop a killer instinct, and this was a great way to send a message early. And credit Bill Musgrave for a fantastic play action rollout for Ponder, who picked up the first down.
Sell: Running AP into a 9 man front twice in a row after getting said first down. Most of you thought it was a good call, and maybe on first down I'd buy it. But after losing 2 yards, a pass seemed the best play call on second down.
Buy: Ponder's 5 yard TD run. That series looked like it was going to die at about the 10, but Ponder avoided the rush, made a good decision to tuck it and run, and scored. Heck of an athletic effort and play for the much maligned quarterback.
Sell: Brian Robison's injury. Although Griffen played well, Robison is haveing a great year. Hope he's okay for next week.
Buy: The second quarter. The first time the Vikings got the ball in the second quarter, there was 2:39 remaining. The Rams had just scored, and the game was tied 7-7. Adrian Peterson went 82 for a score, Greenway recovered a fumble on the next possession and the Vikes got a field goal, then Ev Griffen got his 29 yard pick 6. Only four minutes of game clock had elapsed.
Sell: The offensive series after the fumble recovery. Momentum really was building for the Vikings, and after the first turnover, they had the ball on the St. Louis 28. I felt it was really important for the Vikes to score a TD there, but three plays netted them a loss of four yards, and Walsh kicked the first of his 5 field goals. It was a three play sequence that was everything bad about the Vikings offense this year--loss of two to go into a bad down and distance situation, kind of a goofy play call to Peterson up the middle on second, and then Ponder panicked and took a bad sack on third down. Just ugly.
Buy: Great win on the road: The Vikings haven't been good on the road, and this was a great team win. They dominated from almost the beginning, and never really let St. Louis back into the game. Next to the San Francisco game, this was probably my most satisfying win of the year.
Sell: The season will be a failure if the Vikings don't make the playoffs. As Fearless Leader pointed out, the Vikings are assured of 8-8 at the worst, and even if they lose their last two, at no point did their record drop below .500. This team has been fun to watch, for the most part, and 8 wins is about 4 more than most people thought going into the season. I look at it this way: the Vikings are playing with house money, and whatever happens from this point on out is gravy.
But beat Green Bay.
Don Glover Quote of the Week:
Dad: "Well son, with a win today, I think Frazier's job is safe, and he'll be back next year."
Me: "Yeah, I think you're right."
Dad: "Damn it. Will Muskrat be back, too?"
Me: "I would assume so."
Congratulations, messrs Frazier and Musgrave. You are back in Don Glover's doghouse. You might as well sign a lease with an option to buy, because if this win didn't get you out, I don't know what will.
8-6 is nice, 10-6 would be awesome. 9-7 is realistic. But like I said, we're playing with house money, boys. House money.