So. . .how was your day?
What an amazing, incredible football game we just witnessed. Obviously, from the perspective of Vikings fans, pretty much everything about this game was incredible, but it's hard to attempt to verbalize it so soon after the fact. But I'm going to give it a go anyway.
Adrian Peterson is the Most Valuable Player in the National Football League. He's the best player in the National Football League, regardless of position. Even though he came up just short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. . .just nine yards short, thanks to a big 26-yard dash at the end to set up Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal to give them the victory. Honestly, how many games do the 2012 Minnesota Vikings win without Adrian Peterson? Two? Three, tops? Nobody in the National Football League has had a better season, nor has any player in the National Football League meant more to their team, than Adrian Peterson. And the greatest part is that, well, he didn't give a damn about the record, if Pam Oliver's ambush interview after the game is any indication.
Now, then. . .on to something I said in the comments of the fourth quarter thread. . .
After today, I don't want to hear one damn word about Joe Webb or Philip Rivers or Alex Smith or Geno Smith or Matt Barkley or any other quarterback all damn off-season. This team has their quarterback, and if he didn't prove it to you after his performance today, there's simply no impressing you.
In what can easily be called the biggest game of his football life, Christian Ponder completed 16-of-28 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns, including a "holy hell how did that ball get to a Vikings' receiver" pass to Michael Jenkins. He had a huge 64-yard pass to Jarius Wright to set that touchdown up. He also found Jenkins for a big third-down conversion to put the Vikings into Packer territory on the final drive. He looked more confident, he kept his bad throws to a minimum. . .and, most importantly of all, he didn't turn the ball over. Ted wrote earlier in the week that this game would define Christian Ponder's legacy, for better or for worse, going forward. I'd say he's gotten off on the right foot.
Sure, the Vikings' defense got burned a bit by the Packers. . .Green Bay has, you know, a pretty good offense. The Vikings also played the second half without Antoine Winfield, lost Harrison Smith towards the end of the game, and were down to the bottom of the depth chart in the secondary. But the defensive line made up for it, particularly Everson Griffen, who sacked Aaron Rodgers three times and just destroyed Packers' offensive tackle Don Barclay for pretty much the entire afternoon.
And, once again, the Vikings record of success in the most important number of all held true. Brian Robison's strip-sack of Aaron Rodgers was the lone turnover of the game, meaning the Vikings were +1 in the takeaway/giveaway derby in this game. That pushes their record to 10-0 when they're even or better, and 0-6 when they're in the negative. There were a couple of close calls, but. . .you know. . .who cares?
Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams and Bill Musgrave. . .yes, even Bill Musgrave. . .have had this football team thoroughly prepared to play these past four weeks. The Vikings knew what they had to do, and they went out and did it. After the New York Giants lost in Week 16, the Vikings had control of their own destiny, and they took full advantage of that control on Sunday afternoon.
This team was left for dead so many times this season. They were left for dead before the year even started, as most "experts" projected them to be the fourth team in a three-team division. They were left for dead after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crushed them on Thursday Night Football in Week 8. They were left for dead after they lost Percy Harvin for the season. And, most recently, they were left for dead after the disaster at Lambeau Field just four weeks ago. All they've done since then is win four straight games and take a hold of the final playoff spot in the NFC. Let's make that perfectly clear. . .the Minnesota Vikings didn't "back into" the 2012 NFL playoffs. They took that spot. . .they earned that spot. . .just a year removed from a 3-13 dumpster fire disaster of a season and one of the NFL's youngest teams.
Are the Vikings Super Bowl bound? Hell, I don't know. This team has been defying the odds all season long, and it would be foolish to simply dismiss them straight away. As I said in the game preview, the Vikings are at the final table. . .and they have a chip, a chair, and a chance. Frankly, they might have the best chip of them all in their stack going forward.
So, hey. . .let's all get together and do it again in six or seven days, huh? Come on, our hearts and nervous systems can take it, can't they?
Ted will be along. . .sometime. . .with the Stock Market Report. Whenever he gets it done. Because it will be epic and awesome and holy hell, folks, the Minnesota Vikings are in the NFL playoffs.