Adrian Peterson runs wild early, Vikings hold on late
I'm a big fisherman. Sometimes, when I go fishing, I don't catch crap. I mean, I can't buy a fish. No matter what lure or bait I use, no matter what my presentation is, nothing. Other days, it's like they jump in the boat. I could be fishing for dorkfish with a corndog (H/T Bill Engvall) and it doesn't matter, I absolutely hammer 'em.
But most of the time, it's somewhere in between. I'll go on a streak and catch a lot of fish in a short period of time, and then nothing. But at the end of the day, I usually end up getting a pretty decent fish, and at the end of the day it was a fun day fishing. Even if a good part of the afternoon was kind of a slog--yeah, I might have hooked my thumb, got a snarl in my line that took me 30 minutes to fix, and maybe broke an eyelit in one of my poles, but when I get a nice fish, I tend to forget the bad stuff.
And that's what today's win against the Bears was. The Vikings got off to a really fast start, thanks to Adrian Peterson and Josh Robinson and were up 14-0 before a lot of fans could get to their seats. It was like nailing three fish in your first three casts.
Then the lull. Christian Ponder managed to hook his thumb, then he managed to crack a pole and get a snag in his line, and it looked like the day might be going south. But Harrison Smith ended the day strong by landing the best fish of the day, and everyone went home happy. And hey...ho...the Vikings won.
Your 'it's never a bad day when you beat the Bears' SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Adrian Peterson, RB: Really, when it comes to running backs in the NFL, there's Adrian Peterson, and then there's everyone else. On the Vikings opening drive after receiving the kick, he carried the ball 5 times for 69 yards and a TD, including a 52 yard blast on his first carry. That's what we call 'setting the tone early'. After the Vikings defense picked off Jay Cutler, Peterson took it in from one yard out, and before the game was 5 minutes old, Minnesota was up 14-0 and never looked back.
Harrison Smith, S: We might end up debating the pick of Christian Ponder for years, but the early returns on Smith are extremely promising. For all of Peterson's efforts, Smith 56 yard interception return for a touchdown was the big play of the game. It put the Vikings up two scores late in the game, and gave the Vikings the breathing room that they would eventually need. He was also again solid in run support (although he missed a couple of tackles) and broke up a couple of deep passes.
Jasper Brinkley, MLB: There was a lot of unease regarding Brinkley taking over for E.J. Henderson at the beginning of the year. He seemed apprehensive and unsure of himself, but he has come a long way since August, and had arguably his beast game of the season against the Bears. He had nine tackles, was really solid in shutting down the dump off passes out of the backfield, and was guilty of ass interference (H/T Eric Thompson) which isn't a penalty, but it was pretty comical. Hey, his butt broke up a long pass and forced the Bears to punt, so it's all good.
Josh Robinson, CB: Robinson also had his best game of the season, picking off Jay Cutler on the Bears first possession and returning it for what appeared to be a touchdown. Replays showed he baaaaaarely stepped out at about the 5, and the Vikings converted that into a TD a few plays later. And although Brandon Marshall has a huge day, Robinson had a few big defended passes that stopped Bears drives, and overall he had a very good game.
Michael Jenkins, WR: The statline isn't all that impressive (4 catches, 36 yards) but every catch he made was a big one, and he was the only guy that seemed to catch anything at all. Also, he went to Ohio State. Look, I love Michael Jenkins, always will. When you write the SMR, you can put him wherever you want.
Antoine Winfield, CB: The old man in the secondary just doesn't seem to age. It seemed that the only time Brandon Marshall didn't catch a pass today was when Winfield was manned up on him, and he made some big tackles that had they not been made would've resulted in big plays for the Bears.
Christian Ponder, QB: Another poor performance today (under 100 yards passing, terrible, terrible interception) had boos cascading down from the Metrodome crowd midway through the second half. At that point, the score was 14-7, and you kind of had the sense that Leslie Frazier might make a move to Joe Webb. Well, we wanted to sense that. We hoped that. Okay, it probably wasn't going to happen. But most of us wanted it to happen. And then Smith bailed out the offense with his pick-6, and it bought Ponder and the offense time. And his interception before the half was as bad as anything I've ever seen. It was towards the end of the first half, and the Vikings were in position with just over a minute left and two time outs to at least get into FG range, at a minimum.
I don't fault Bill Musgrave here--it was a good playcall, as Jarius Wright was sent on a deep route, and he had smoked everyone and was behind the Bears secondary by about three or four yards. A good throw and it's a touchdown. Instead, Ponder threw off his back foot, underthrew it by a good five to seven yards, and it was intercepted. Scoring opportunity wasted, half over. I am fine with a young guy making mistakes, and having fits and starts, but with over 20 starts in the NFL, I'm thinking we should be past decisions this bad and throws that poor.
Buy: A.J. Jefferson. He struggled early, in a bad way, but in the second half he stepped up and broke up some big passes that would've resulted in a TD.
Sell: A.J. Jefferson. But for as many good plays as he made in the seocnd half, he made some equally poor ones in the first half. He flashes talent, so I understand why he's out there, then he flashes his ass, which makes me wonder why in the hell he's out there.
Buy: Christian Ballard, Kick Returner: So the Bears narrow the game to 14-7 right before halftime, and on the ensuing kick A.J Jefferson fumbles the ball. After what seemed an eternity, Christian Ballard picked it up and AWWWWAAAAAAY....WEEEEE....GOOOOOO for about 10 of the funnest yards I've seen since Jim Kleinsasser caught his obligatory pass or two a year. It was called back, but it was still a laugh out loud moment for me and my Dad.
Sell: Kickoff returners not named Percy Harvin. The one thing about Harvin I really like his his explosiveness on kickoff returns, and that is just gone without him. And I'm not even talking about his touchdowns. Don't get me wrong, that's exciting, but he has the ability to flip field position to at least the 40 or 50. I just don't get that feeling with Marcus Sherels, or A.J. Jefferson, or anyone.
Buy: The Vikings getting to .500. With three games to go, the Vikings have the Rams, Texans, and then the Packers at home. They can definitely win one of those games, maybe even two.
Sell: The Vikings going to the playoffs. But to get to the playoffs, they'll have to run the table and get some help, and I think it's just a bridge too far this year. But at 8-8 or even 9-7, I won't consider this season a failure. Heck, at 7-6 they're already playing with house money. Give me a win against the Packers, and I'm not going to complain all that much.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week
"Son, Jay Cutler looks like he's going to sit down in the middle of his huddle and start crying. On every play. Every goddamn play."
Yes Dad, he sure does.