Although there were plenty of empty seats at the Metrodome on Sunday, the atmosphere was still electric. The anticipation for the start of the season was almost over and all of my fellow Viking fans were excited and anxious for the start. How much has Ponder improved? How much will Peterson play? Fans throughout the dome were asking these types of questions to themselves, including me. I was able to witness a heckuva game on Sunday, and here is a little bit of what I took away from it.
I will start with the negatives, so we can "end on a high note". Let it be known before you read into my opinions that I am far from a football expert and you may not agree with me.
The Cecil Shorts Touchdown: Now obviously this is a negative, but I thought I would emphasize two individuals in one category. Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams being one. We are up by 5 points with :30 or so left, and you are going to put Chris Cook in single coverage? We should be in near prevent defense. I don't quite understand what he was thinking there. Although, in all reality, Cook could have shown a better effort to at least attempt to knock the ball away. Maybe Shorts pushed off, I guess I wasn't watching that part, but he was a few feet away from Shorts on the play.
Jared Allen: He really didn't have much of an impact in this game. When Allen tried to time the snap and nailed Gabbert, from section 106 it felt like Allen was on his way to an excellent game. A fan behind me said "Allen is on pace for 100 sacks". I never got to look at the play and see if it was or wasn't offside but I assume it was. Anyway, he never seemed to impact Gabbert the rest of the game. The Jaguars could have been chipping, double teaming, etc. on him, but I would like to see more of him in the games to come.
The Letroy Guion Late Hit: This was all around stupidity. Was it necessary for Guion to bellyflop on Gabbert while he was laying on the ground? No, not at all. Was it necessary to call a personal foul penalty for it, either? No. All in all, Guion ultimately is at fault here. He could have made any contact at all with Gabbert and he decided to crush him.
The Vikings' Second-To-Last drive of Regulation: The Jaguars punted to us and the Vikes started I believe around the 10 yard line, and we needed exactly 1 from first down from the offense for a victory. So the decision is made to run the ball with hardly an attempt to achieve a first down. For me, personally, with the way Ponder was playing, I would have tried to go for a first down and end the game.
Adrian Peterson: This is pretty self-explanatory. The guy had a torn ACL and MCL less than nine months ago and he carries the ball 17 times for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. Name another player that could do that.
Christian Ponder's last 2 1/2 quarters: Ponder's start was very average, and that is probably giving him too much credit. The touchdown drive before halftime was HUGE, and from then on he played phenomenal. 13/16 192 yards in the second half. And last but not least, to have the poise to make a couple plays and get Blair Walsh (my fantasy kicker, by the way) into field goal range shows just how much he is improving and growing as an NFL quarterback.
Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson: This pair of linebackers were up to the challenge, as they realize they don't have E.J. Henderson in the middle anymore. Greenway finished with 13 tackles and a couple of big time pass defenses late in the game. He was everywhere in the second half. Henderson finished with a sack and 10 tackles, which is nothing to scoff at. I believe the play of these two will be a large factor in how well this defense plays the rest of the season, and games like this will do just fine.
The Rookies: So far, the draft class of 2012 the Vikings put together is looking great. Matt Kalil made his presence felt not only on offense protecting Ponder and opening holes for Peterson, but on special teams by blocking an extra point. Harrison Smith had a huge diving pass breakup on 3rd and 3 in overtime that ultimately would be the second-to-last play of the game. Sure, he got beat a few times, but he also made some big plays. And you can't forget Blair Walsh. 4/4, including a 55 yarder to go into overtime, then calmly nailing a 38 yarder in overtime. Ryan who?
Bill Musgrave utilizing Percy Harvin: Percy Harvin is the most valuable piece to the Vikings offense, not Adrian Peterson. The reason he is so valuable is because Musgrave finds numerous ways to get him the ball. He is a threat whether he lines up in the backfield, slot, or split out wide, and of course as a kickoff return man. He is basically a WR/RB/KR. You don't find players that can perform each of those spots like Harvin, and Musgrave does an excellent job using his unique skills. Harvin finished with 14 touches for 192 yards against Jacksonville, if you include the kickoff returns. This guy is super dynamic, and Musgrave needs to keep finding ways to get him the ball.
As for a preview of Vikings @ Colts, I am very excited to see how we deal with Andrew Luck. I think we will be in for another tightly contested game that should come down to a couple big plays late. Vikings win a close one, 27-24.
Please comment if you like/dislike the post or disagree with anything I have pointed out and if I should do more in the future!