Now THAT was the Minnesota Vikings team that we were hoping for when the season started.
In my Week 3 preview on Thursday, I said this was a "prove it" game for the Vikings. And boy did they check all of those boxes in emphatic fashion. After a bit of a slow start, the Vikes absolutely dismantled the San Diego Chargers by a score of 31-14. The defense was dominant all day, never letting Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense get comfortable for a second. San Diego's offensive line was already a weakness coming in and suffered a bunch of injuries during the game, which led to the Vikings getting into the backfield like it was a jailbreak on nearly every play.
Hey, that reminds me of an old song I know...
Tonight there's gonna be trouble
Some of us won't survive
See the boys and me mean business
Bustin' out dead or alive
I can hear the hound dogs on my trail
All hell breaks loose, alarm and sirens wail
Like the game if you lose
Go to jail
Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak
Somewhere in the town
Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak
So don't you be around
Let's get to the victory stocks.
Blue Chip Stocks
Adrian Peterson. He's baaaaaaaaack! His career average against the Chargers is now DOWN to 173.3 yards per game. But we'll still take 126 yards and his first two touchdowns since 2013 anytime. AP looked like the "old AP", and never more so than on his second touchdown run of the game:
If Peterson is running like this all year (and a certain quarterback can step up his play a little bit...we'll get to that later), the Vikings offense is going to be really fun to watch.
Everson Griffen. He was all over the place. Griffen had four tackles, 1.5 sacks, and numerous pressures. That two-play sequence where he followed up a sack with a batted pass prompted me to make this ridiculous photoshop:
He didn't go completely penalty-free thanks to a pretty iffy roughing the passer call, but overall it was a great day for the Vikings' star defensive end.
Anthony Barr. It seemed like he was in the backfield on every play. Rivers probably took his pads off after the game and found a backwards "55" in Vikings number font imprinted on his chest. Barr and the Vikings defense literally beat Rivers into submission as he yielded to Kellen Clemens in garbage time.
Harrison Smith. Can we just split him in half and have each part play both safety positions? We might be in better shape if that was the case. Once again Smith did everything you could ask a safety to do--he stuffed the run and shut down everything on his side of the field over the top. He is the very definition of an All-Pro safety.
Norv Turner. The Vikings Offensive Coordinator put on an absolute master class of play calling today, especially in the second half. Since the Vikings played with the lead most of the day, Turner was able to dial up an excellent variety of plays that kept the Chargers on their heels throughout the game. It's nice to see Turner playing to his players' strengths and putting them in a position to succeed.
Trae Waynes. Hey look who got some defensive snaps for the first time in his career! And looked pretty decent doing so! He made a great open field tackle on Danny Woodhead! Plus he almost had an interception! I shouldn't be this excited about the decent performance of a first round pick, but I am!! If Xavier Rhodes misses any time due to the brutal collision he had at the end of the second quarter, perhaps the Vikings won't be in as bad of shape as we originally feared.
Blair Walsh. He didn't miss anything! His kickoffs were all touchbacks! He even had a longer field goal go right through the uprights until
Chad Greenway. You know I had to put him here after his pick six. Greenway didn't play much until late in the game, but he made his time count today. Let's watch the play again in all of its hilariously plodding glory:
The best part? It happened on Arif's birthday, who of course has been one of the more vocal Greenway detractors (with good reason) in recent years. The football gods have an amazing sense of humor.
Mike Wallace. The Vikings didn't have a prolific day passing by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked what Wallace did on the three receptions he got today. He made a nice tiptoe catch on the sidelines and had some shifty moves on a bubble screen. Minnesota needs to put the ball in his hands more going forward.
Andrew Sendejo. He literally added injury to insult on the Chargers' TD before halftime. Sendejo was way too late on coverage. There were no other routes in his area of the Cover 2 coverage, so he simply got caught looking in the backfield instead of keeping an eye on the Chargers' best receiver. To make things much worse, he then knocked Rhodes unconscious. It's nice that Sendejo is always willing to sacrifice his body, but not at the cost of his teammate's body. The safety position opposite Harrison Smith is still a HUGE issue for this defense. Robert Blanton was back in at safety during the fourth quarter, which tells us that Zimmer still isn't sure what to do there either.
Teddy Bridgewater. It might be a little harsh to put Teddy in this category, but his performance was the only rain cloud in an otherwise stellar performance by the Vikings offense. Kyle Rudolph's drop was bad but that ball and the interception on the next play both had more air under them than Michael Jordan in 1986. He missed just about everything he threw downfield. Bridgewater needs to improve his intermediate and deep throws for this offense to truly take off.
Buy: A-gap blitzes. The Vikings spent so much time in the A-gap that they should have paid property tax. They knew that the Chargers' interior offensive line was weak even before they started dropping like flies, and the Vikings took full advantage. It was a great game plan with expert execution.
Sell: Sitting on the ball with 1:14 and 2 timeouts left. That was some Denny Green/Brad Childress playing not to lose BS. Sure the Vikings offense was out of sorts most of the first half, but that doesn't send a good message to your team. If the second half had gone the other way this could have been a major talking point. Fortune favors the bold, Zimmer!
Buy: The convoy the Vikings defense gave Chad Greenway for the world's slowest pick six. That was the best defensive blocking I can ever remember seeing. Greenway could have ran (I use that term loosely) for three miles with blocking like that. It was the very definition of "a horde of Vikings", and it was beautiful to watch.
Sell: Watching any replays of the Xavier Rhodes injury. Man, that was just brutal to watch. To be honest it could have been a lot worse than the likely concussion he ended up with, especially after he lay motionless for a while after the hit. It's not fun to be reminded that football is a very violent game in that manner.
Buy: This defense is the real deal. Sure the Chargers had 369 yards of offense but the majority of that was in garbage time. They're shutting down the run on a Williams Wall level these past two weeks and getting after the quarterback at an alarmingly good rate. It's starting to look like a patented Mike Zimmer defense.
Sell: Week 1 ever happening. Agreed? I'm convinced that the 49ers game was just a figment of our imagination. Hopefully we can look back on the Santa Clara Suckfest after the season and conclude that it was simply the motivation this young team needed to start heading in the right direction.
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Day
My daughter is getting the hang of this Vikings stuff. She went down for a nap at halftime so she missed most of the fireworks in the second half, but not before she worked on her rendition of the "Skol Vikings" song with me in the first quarter. She sings along with her daddy now after Vikings touchdowns and almost has the last line down on her own:
"Skooohhh Bikings, s'goooo!"
I'm not saying I'm a better or happier dad in the afternoons after Vikings wins, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Skooohhh Bikings indeed!