On Thursday night, the Minnesota Vikings played the Washington Redskins in a game that, in many ways, has mirrored most of their games in 2013: up and down QB play early, a defense that couldn't get off the field, and then with a late lead we once again saw the opposing offense driving for a game tying score with under a minute to play.
Only for one night, at least, the Vikings held, and won the game 34-27.
And they did it in spite of the Vikings coaching staff, not because of it. And it seemed that for a second, the walls would come crumblin' down, didn't it, Mr. Mellencamp?
When the walls
Come tumblin' down
When the walls
Come crumblin', crumblin'
When the walls
Come tumblin', tumblin'
But the Vikes held and got their second win of the season.
The SMR that will never Tank for Teddy follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
John Carlson, TE: When Kyle Rudolph went down with a foot injury last week in Dallas, I thought an offense that was already challenged when they went to throw the ball would be even further impeded. I love it when I'm wrong about this stuff. Carlson caught the first pass of the game for 10 yards, and to be honest, I thought anything after that was gravy. We got a lot of gravy. Seven catches, 98 yards, and a TD's worth of gravy. And that TD was a 28 yard catch and run that was one heck of an effort. Great game by a guy that's had a tough go of it since he's been here.
Kevin Williams, DT: I don't know that Kevin Williams is going to go into the Hall of Fame when he retires, but he'll definitely go into the Vikings Ring of Honor. On Thursday night, KWill reminded us why. He turned back the clock and had three sacks, casing a level of disruption in the middle of the line that has been absent far too often in recent seasons.
Joe Berger, G: I don't have any PFF advanced stats in front of me, but it looked like Berger acquitted himself quite well starting for regular left guard Charlie Johnson. When Ponder got pressured from the left, it didn't seem like it was up the middle, it looked like it was Matt Kalil, who is still struggling. Berger seemed to win most of his battles, and when Adrian Peterson had success, he got a lot of yards going to the left, including his 18 yard TD run.
Christian Ponder, QB: On the Vikings opening drive, Christian Ponder did two very Christian Ponder things--on second down from their 39, he missed two wide open guys in the middle of the field, held on to the ball, and took a sack. On third down, he decided when he broke the huddle he was going to Rex Grossman it, and said 'eff it'. He threw it deep to Greg Jennings, into well defensed double coverage, and the result was a horrible pick. On Twitter, I called Ponder the Obamacare website of NFL quarterbacks. That was the last mistake he made all night. On a night when the defense couldn't get off the field in the first half, and the Vikes found themselves down by a score of 27-14, Ponder threw and ran the Vikings back into the lead. At one point he completed 10 straight, and played solid football. And for his efforts, he suffered a dislocated shoulder. So when it seemed that Ponder might have turned a corner, we're back to square one with the mess at quarterback. Stay tuned.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: I love this kid. He's already getting the Devin Hester treatment as a kick returner, and he finally got on the field long enough to catch a TD pass in the second quarter. I know he's raw, I know he needs to become a better route runner, but he is a playmaker. Figure out ways to get the ball into his hands, Coaching staff. He is a talent that's going to waste, for the most part, and that's a shame.
Andrew Sendejo, S: Sendejo isn't going to wow anyone in pass coverage, which is why he's a back up, but he is an above average tackler and had a great game in run support. He hit RGIII hard two or three times, and had a pretty solid game overall.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: I preface this by saying I think Rhodes is going to be pretty good, but on Thursday, he wasn't. He gave up a TD, was called for a pretty bad pass interference call in the end zone, and had what I thought was his worst game as a pro.
Jared Allen, DE: Allen has become a one trick pony, and he's always looking for a sack, on every play. He fires upfield, and the Redskins did a fantastic job of letting Allen take himself out of the play all night. His complete disregard for the run allowed Alfred Morris to go for one huge gain after another, and was one of the main reasons the Vikings run defense was so porous.
Buy: Not giving up. When the Vikings went down 27-14, I'll admit I thought the game was done. The defense couldn't get off the field on third down, it seemed they could just grind the Vikings down with Alfred Morris ripping off one big gain after another, and the Vikings aren't equipped to come back down more than two scores. But they did, and they turned it around.
Sell: Tanking For Teddy, Bad for Boyd, or any other cute phrase that endorses going in the tank. I'm not going to apologize for wanting my football team to win. Ever. I'm never going to want them to go 1-15, or 2-14, and secure the first pick in the draft. Ever. I wait far too long for football season to get here, and I don't want to watch 15 shit bombs with my father. Granted, he's a funny and sarcastic dude when the Vikes play like crap, but we have a lot more fun when they're winning. I'll take as many wins as I can, and let the chips fall where they may. Why? because no one really knows how good Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, or anyone else is going to be.
Buy: Adrian Peterson isn't human. Well, okay, he is. But man, he runs as angry as any running back in the NFL. He absolutely trucked Brandon Meriweather. And by trucked, I mean he William Gay'd him. I just shook my head, said 'damn, man', and said a prayer for Meriweather. It was awesome.
Sell: Taking glee in an injury. When Ponder was hurt, there were some pretty crappy things that people said on social media, and folks actually were happy that Ponder was hurt. We can debate whether or not Ponder's the quarterback for this team moving forward, and we can debate whether he should start over Josh Freeman or Matt Cassel. But actually cheering when someone gets hurt? Seriously, people? It's just a game.
Buy: The Vikings defense might be the worst third down offense in history. My God, at some point during the game, I just started laughing. 3rd and 5? First down. 3rd and 8? First down. Third and 15? First down. Third and 63? First down. Unreal. Simply mind boggling, actually. They got better in the second half, and a hat tip there, but that was a pretty weak effort.
Sell: Coaching. In the first half, the Vikings played their typical weak sauce soft zone, and RGIII picked the Vikings apart, converted one third down after another, and Alfred Morris ran wild. In the second half, the Vikings brought some serious pressure, and lo and behold, it worked. RGIII was hit and sacked four times, the Vikings defense was animated and setting the tempo, and the Vikings offense was able to take the lead. Then we get to the fourth quarter. On offense, the Vikings were up four with eight minutes to go. The Vikings fed Adrian Peterson, for the most part, killed the clock, and got down to the Redskins 22. On third and 8, the Vikings threw a three yard out pass, forcing a field goal attempt that Blair Walsh converted. PLAY TO WIN THE GAME INSTEAD OF PLAYING NOT TO LOSE. My God, that was terrible.
Oh, but that was nothing. The Vikings once again reverted to their soft zone, and naturally, the Redskins marched down the field. Out of timeouts, the Redskins got to the Vikings 8 with 46 seconds left and called a draw to Roy Helu that netted four yards. Helu couldn't get out of bounds, so instead of forcing the Redskins to scramble to the line and spike the ball, the Vikings...wait for it...called a time out with 38 seconds remaining.
No, you read that right. They CALLED A TIMEOUT. My Twitter feed absolutely blew up, and justifiably so. There's playing to win, there's playing not to lose, and then there's playing to lose. I don't know what the Hell the staff was thinking there, but I really thought for a second that Leslie Frazier was almost asking to be fired. Hey, it worked out in the end and the Vikings won, but I would contend that they won in spite of the Vikings coaching staff instead of because of them. Greg Jennings pretty much encapsulated everyone's thought about that timeout call there:
There's no Don Glover quote of the week this week, kids. Dad came over, and so did one of his buddies from the home, a Redskins fan. They were both pretty beat by halftime, so I took them home. They had a good time, but were both pretty quiet.
So the Vikings get their second win of the season, and showed a lot of fight when it seemed like it would have been easy to throw in the towel and call it a night. I liked to see that fight, and I hope they can build off of this and rattle off a few wins in a row.