I started out by writing two different paragraphs for this post. In the end, I decided to keep both of them, because they both describe the Vikings game.
Yet, they're so different, it's like it was two different teams. Here we go:
Paragraph the first: And so it goes for the Vikings in 2013. In a game where Christian Ponder played pretty well for part of the game (again), the defense played better than they have all year for a good part of the game, and the duo of Toby Gerhart and Adrian Peterson ran wild, the Vikings still couldn't win.
Paragraph the second: And so it goes for the Vikings in 2013. On a day when Christian Ponder once again DERP-ed his way through the last two or three drives of the game thanks in large part to some baffling play calls by Bill Musgrave, and where the defense once again couldn't hold a late lead, this one a 16 point fourth quarter lead, somehow the Vikings avoided a loss.
Seriously, if ever there was a diagnosis for team Schizophrenia, the 2013 Minnesota Vikings would be Patient Zero. They played very good football for three quarters, horrible football for one quarter and one overtime drive, and then decided to play pretty good football again.
And after 75 minutes, all we got out of it was a 26-26 tie. Yet somehow, I don't feel awful about it. The Vikings were supposed to get blown out, and didn't. Yeah, they didn't win...but they didn't lose, either.
But at the end of the day, you know what they say about ties, it's like kissing your sister. And if she's a christian, you'd be kissing sister christian...BOOM! (Sorry, I've wanted to use this video in forever. It's my only chance. Deal with it.)
Sister Christian, oh the time has come
And you know that you're the only one
To say okay
Where you goin' what you lookin' for
You know those boys
Don't want to play no more with you
What's your price for flight?
In finding Mister Right
You'll be alright tonight
The SMR that Donovan McNabb doesn't think is possible follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Adrian Peterson, RB: 32 carries, over 140 yards rushing...with a bad groin. Peterson looked his old self--fantastic vision and cutback ability, hitting the hole with authority, and even getting mostly positive yards when they run was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Imagine if he was healthy in this game.
Toby Gerhart, RB: Oh wait, we don't have to imagine because OH MY GOODNESS DID TOBY GERHART CRUSH AND SMASH AND DOMINATE. This was the best mix and match of Peterson and Gerhart all year, and it produced 232 yards rushing. Gerhart only carried the ball eight times, but he had 91 yards of rushing awesomeness.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: Rhodes has had an up and down rookie year, but on Sunday he was cash money for most of the game. He was exceptional in man coverage, and had four passes defended. Which, if I'm not mistaken, felt like the first four passes defended by a Vikings defensive back this year.
Audie Cole, MLB: WOOOOOOOOOO THE LEGEND OF AUDIE COLE GROWS WOOOOOOOOOOO. On his first play, Cole sacked Scott Tolzien, and over the course of the game had 11 tackles, to include some big hits. So my only question is...what took the coaching staff so doggone long to make this move? Did Cole miss a couple tackles? Yes. Did Cole blow a couple of gap assignments? Yeah, probably. But you know what else he did? He tackled. He created havoc, and by the end of the game, if you were the Packers, you had to account for where Audie Cole was on the field. He looked like a difference maker. Will it last? Who knows, but I do know we need to ride the Coletrain as far as it will take us, because I am ON BOARD BABY, CHOO CHOO!
Jerome Simpson, WR: Simpson only had two catches, but they were both huge. His first one was a 31 yarder that flipped field position and lead to a field goal to get the Vikings to within 7-6, and on the next drive, he caught a 23 yarder that got the Vikings well into Packers territory and lead to a touchdown right before halftime.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: I like how the Vikings are getting Patterson more and more involved into the offense, and he had an up and down day. He caught six passes for 54 yards, but he also dropped two big ones. One was deep in Green Bay territory that has he caught and the Vikings capitalized on might have put the game away, the other was in the end zone in overtime that would have won the game. Still, between Patterson, Cole, and Rhodes, I was really encouraged by the younger players today, and they give me hope moving forward.
Letroy Guion, DT: Four years later, and I'm still not impressed with Guion. Why is he still here?
Greg Jennings, WR: For all the running of the mouth he did about Rodgers and the Packers, one would think you should back up your talk with some big plays. Two catches, 29 yards, and a couple of bad drops is not backing it up.
Buy: Christian Ponder's First Three Quarters Or So. Ponder played pretty good football through three quarters. He took a couple of bad sacks, but I gotta say, I thought he threw the ball well and made some good decisions.
Sell: The Rest Of The Game For Ponder. But oh my, what the hell was that fourth quarter? He was 2-5 for eight yards as the Vikings offense, needing JUST ONE DRIVE to ice the game, could only manage one first down. Once again, a gassed defense gave up the ghost, and this comic tragedy played out once again, just like we were in the Globe Theater in medieval England. He had two WTF moments in that quarter. One was a screen pass that lost three yards on 3rd and 8 and the Vikings had to punt. Green Bay drove the field, kicked a field goal, and tied the game with under a minute. On the ensuing drive, the Vikings needed a big play to get into field goal range, yet Ponder, from the shotgun, decided to run the ball up the middle. Unreal.
Buy: The Effort Of The Defense For Three Quarters: A really great effort for 45 minutes. Solid tackling, for the most part. Great job of keeping Eddie Lacy contained, for the most part. Solid pass coverage, especially by Rhodes.
Sell: The Effort Of The Defense In The Fourth Quarter: Yeah, it all went to Hell in a hatbasket when it got to crunch time. Assignments were blown, they quit tackling, and Matt Flynn morphed into a superstar.
Buy: Audie Cole Just Won The Mike Linebacker Job: Cole put in the best performance by a linebacker for the Vikings this season today, and it wasn't even close. Audie Cole should be the starting middle linebacker from here on out.
Sell: The Fact That The Coaching Staff Will Probably Give Erin Henderson One More Shot: He won't though, I'm sure. I have no doubt that the Vikings coaching staff will put Erin Henderson back in the middle when he returns to the team, and we will see more of the same from earlier in the year. And that's a shame, because Cole played a whale of a game today.
Don Glover Quote Of The Week:
'Well, we didn't lose. We should still fire Frazier though.'
Yeah, Dad, I can't disagree with you there.
So we didn't lose, but we didn't win. We played good enough to lose...but we also played good enough to win. I saw some good things on both sides of the ball today, so when I tweeted out earlier that the Vikings beat the Packers 26-26, I meant that there were some things that the Vikings can take from this game and build on.
And hopefully, it will give us some insight into who can contribute moving forward and into next year.