Wow, I'm not even sure I know where to begin. If you told me a month ago the Vikings would be in a position to beat Green Bay and go to the playoffs, I would've taken your temperature. Minnesota had lost back to back division games against Chicago and Green Bay and stood at 6-6. To even have a chance at the playoffs, they needed to run the table.
By God, they did.
And it culminated with one of the most thrilling games in one of the most storied rivalries in the National Football League, as the Vikings topped the Green Bay Packers 37-34.
What a fantastic game. When people ask me why in God's name I persevere with the Vikings, I point to games like this, and performances like Adrian Peterson's today. Goddamn, this is why. THIS IS WHY I am a Vikings fan. This feeling, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
It was a thrill a minute ride that had great defensive plays, a quarterback we got to watch grow up before our eyes, and a Terminator/Cyborg/Running Back that takes the word 'unbelievable' to a new level.
Add all that together, throw in some quality import beer, mix in a few Don Glover quotes, and I'll be a sunuvabitch, but the Vikings are going to the playoffs.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's time for the Vikings fight song, because nothing else fits this moment more perfectly:
Skol Vikings, let's win this game,
Skol Vikings, honor your name,
Go get that first down,
Then get a touchdown.
Rock 'em . . . Sock 'em
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Go Vikings, run up the score,
You'll hear us yell for more. . .
Skol, Vikings, let's go!
Your 'Vikings are going to the playoffs, bitches' SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Adrian Peterson, RB: Somebody, anybody, look me in the eye and tell me this isn't the best player in the game today. If I was Adrian Peterson, I would walk to the opponents huddle and say 'hey, jackasses, I'm getting the ball and I'm going off left tackle., and you aren't stopping me.' That way, it might be a fair fight, because right now Peterson is on a level that no one else in the NFL is. He knows he's getting the ball, the opposition knows he's getting the ball, and even if it's 2nd and Twenty Goddamn Seven, you can't stop him. BEST. EVER.
Christian Ponder, QB: This is a run oriented team with a dearth of talent at wide receiver, minus the injured Percy Harvin, so everyone knows that if Ponder has to throw 40-45 times for 300 yards, the Vikings are screwed. Ponder's job, at last right now, is to have aline something like this: 16/28, 235 yards, no interceptions. A TD pass here and there would be sweet, but three? BOOYA! The no turnovers is the key for Ponder--play within himself, make some throws and plays when needed, and everything should be okay. He didn't do that in the first matchup, Vikings lose. He did do that today, Vikings win. Pretty simple.
Jarius Wright, WR: Earlier this week I did a Q and A with my buddy Tex Western over at APC. In the comments a Packer fan respectfully asked why Vikes fans were so confident the second time around. One of the answers I gave was about Jarius Wright. I said the following:
Jarius Wright, the de facto replacement for Harvin, was playing in just his second game. I think there’s more of a comfort factor with Wright and Ponder now, and that could make a difference on third down, something that we didn’t have in the first match up.
Maybe I missed on third down, but Jarius Wright had three catches for 90 yards. I'm a genius.
//drops mic, walks off
Michael Jenkins, WR: My bromance with Michael Jenkins goes back to Ohio State's 2002 National Championship season. He had two of the most memorable catches in recent OSU memory that year, and regardless of what he did in the NFL, I am going to root for Jenkins. In the 4th quarter, 2 minutes left with the game tied 34-34. the Vikings were facing 3rd and 11 from their own 27. I tweeted the following:
If the #Vikings don't make this, GB will have 2 min and 2 timeouts to score.Color me pessimistic.Fuck...— Ted Glover (@purplebuckeye) December 31, 2012
Ponder dropped back, had solid protection, and Michael Jenkins found a seam along the sideline. Boom, Ponder to Jenkins for 25 yards and a first down. It was the biggest of big plays in a big game. And it was just one more reason why Michael Jenkins will always be one of my most favorite players ever. He just gets it done when you absolutely need a play.
Blair Walsh, K: When Blair Walsh lines up for a field goal over 50 yards, I go 'ho hum'. When Mason Crosby lines up for a 50+ field goal, it's like Nuke LaLoosh in 'Bull Durham'--he might nail it, or he might hit the bull. When the game is on the line, Walsh nails a game winner. When the playoffs are on the line, he nails a playoff clincher. Blair Walsh is the best kicker in the NFL, and I really don't think there would be much of an argument from anyone. At least there shouldn't be.
Bill Musgrave, Offensive Coordinator: Because he agreed to be interviewed by us last season, Bill Musgrave will always be a Friend Of The Norseman. But he hasn't escaped our criticism, either. Today, however, he called a fantastic game. He didn't do anything to outsmart himself by a half, and he consistently played to the Vikings strengths--namely, Adrian Peterson on the ground, and quick roll outs by Ponder away from Clay Matthews. Well done, sir. Well done indeed.
Brian Robison, DE: Have you ever had serious shoulder problems, like a sprain or mild separation, like Brian Robison has? It freakin' hurts, and it's hard to use your arm to do anything, like grab your manhood to take a piss, for instance. So imagine what it must take to play defensive end in the NFL, beat your guy, and then cause an Aaron Rodgers fumble and create a turnover. You know what that is? That's badass.
Jerome Felton, RB: I've neglected Jerome Felton for far too long on the SMR. But Felton is kind of like Jules in Pulp Fiction---yeah, he's a main character, but it's easy to overlook him in the grand scheme of things. Well, you know what? Like Jules, Felton has a wallet that says 'bad motherfucker' on it, and before every game he says the following:
"The path of the righteous Viking is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil Packers. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the football through the valley of the Metrodome, for he is truly AP's keeper and the finder of 17 yard receptions. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and FUUUUURIOUS ANGER those who would attempt to poison and destroy my AP. And you will KNOW my name is JEROME when I lay my crossblock upon thee."
Nobody. Seriously, this team went 3-13 last year and stunk to high heaven, and they just clinched a playoff spot when no one, and I mean no one, thought they'd be here. This has been a turn around that no one saw coming, except maybe Zygi Wilf, and they just beat the Packers to a) clinch a playoff spot, and b) knock the Bears out of the playoffs. If you think I'm giving anyone a junk bond today, you're high.
Buy: This Team Making A Decent Playoff Run. Let me state this from the get go: I don't give two hoots in Hell if the Vikings beat Green Bay in the playoffs. I mean, that's old hat for us, AMIRITE? Seriously, if ever I felt 'happy to be here', this would be it. But...BUT...the Vikings have a good defense and a solid running game, and you have to be able to run the ball and play defense if you expect to win in the post season. I'm not saying the Vikings will go on a deep playoff run, but if they're a team that's built to. How far they go will depend on the health of Antoine Winfield and Josh Robinson, though.
Sell: The Packers Are An Elite Team. Good team? Yeah, but elite? No. You can run on their defense, their wide receiver corps is hurting, and their running game still doesn't impress me.
Buy: Jarius Wright's Catch Was A Catch. It looked to me like Wright caught the ball, but it wasn't reviewable because the Packers had to use all their timeouts in the first half due to miscommunication and crowd noise. Would it have been overturned? Well, let's ask the non-partisan Don Glover, Modern Day Vikings Philosopher And Retired Gentleman Of Leisure:
"Yeah it was a catch. Jesus, the Packers have gotten calls like that for years. How does it feel, McCarthy? You goddamn baby."
I think that settles it, no?
Sell: That Bullshit 'The Booth Is Already Reviewing The Play So BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BULLSHIT BLAH.' Sorry, but the 'replay booth is already reviewing it' isn't in the playbook. Yes, it was a touchdown, but the Packers should've been penalized 15 yards when McCarthy chucked the red flag halfway across the field, and the call on the field should've stood. Oh, and if anyone other than Aaron Rodgers had gone off on his coach like Rodgers did on that play, it would be all over the TV. Just sayin'...
Buy: Christian Ponder Is The Once And Future Quarterback Of The Vikings. I don't know what more some of you folks want of Ponder, I really don't. He doesn't dial up 300 yard games week in and week out...or ever, actually...but the Vikings offense isn't geared to do that. He's played quality football, for the most part, the last month of the season. Oh, and SCOREBOARD BITCHES, WE'RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS.
Sell: All This Joe Webb Should Start Horseshit. Okay, the few 'Webb should start' folks that are left are like the true believers left that think the Mayan Apocalypse will still happen. It ain't, and Joe ain't starting. Get on the Ponder love train, because it's leaving the station FOR THE PLAYOFFS.
Buy: Whatever Leslie Frazier Is Selling. One of the more ridiculous criticisms I've seen of Frazier this year is that he isn't 'emotional enough' on the sideline, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. Bud Grant's look never changed in all his years on the Vikings sideline, and I thought he did okay. After this 4-0 close to get to the playoffs, Frazier has to be seriously considered for Coach of the Year. Whatever happens from here on out, well done, coach.
Buy: Adrian Peterson As MVP. There should be two options for the MVP ballot. Option one should read: "Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings." The other option should read "I'm sorry, I'm a complete moron. I choose not to vote." Peyton Manning has had a good year, but the Denver Broncos were a playoff team last year and won a playoff game. The Minnesota Vikings were one of the worst teams in football and they are GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahem, case closed.
Sell: Anyone Even Making A Case FOr Somebody Else For MVP. I'll just leave this tweet here from Drew Magary, Vikings fan and Deadspin superstar:
Let me help you: PETERSON PETERSON PETERSON ASSHOLE RT @si_peterkingDecision for MVP will be exceedingly difficult.— Drew Magary (@drewmagary) December 31, 2012
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
Me: Dad, how do you think the Vikings will do?
Dad: I think we win. Big. But I'll settle for little.
Well kids, welcome to the playoffs. The Vikings made a statement today--not only did they win, but they never trailed, they didn't turn the ball over, and the Packers, who were intent on stopping Adrian Peterson, couldn't do it. I'm as happy as I could be right now, and if the Vikings don't win next week, I'm not going to be crushed like I would've been if they had lost today. This was a statement win for this team, and a statement game for Peterson and Christian Ponder.
I've been saying for the last couple weeks that the Vikings have been playing with house money, and I think that's more accurate today than ever. No one expected them to make the playoffs, and no one will expect them to go on the road and beat Green Bay next week. Which is why I think they'll play great again and give the Packers everything they can handle next week.