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Once again, I solicited questions from you guys and spent some time thinking about the answers.  Here are the results:

Adam, to what degree do you think poor offensive line play and a weak receiving corps are having on the performance of Christian Ponder?

Football is a team sport, no doubt about it.  The thing is, however, that football is a unique team sport in that one position is far and away more important than all of the rest.  Argue all you want, but quarterbacks make and break football teams in the modern day NFL.

Now, I’m not making excuses for the receivers dropping the football or for failings in pass protection, but Christian Ponder has to embrace the leadership role he is lucky enough to have before he flat out loses it.  He has to gather the troops, make clear his expectations, lead by example and demand more of himself with every lesson learned.

I think, especially with Harvin sidelined, Ponder has indeed drawn the short straw when it comes to receiver talent.  However, that offensive line is better than people are giving credit for, and if he stopped imagining non-existent pressure causing him to flee the pocket (and, thus, creating pressure by changing directions) I think the line holds up better than most realize.

Also, apologists can make all of the excuses they want for Ponder, but he has the best running back in football right now making life a heck of a lot easier on him than it could be.

The Vikings started the second half with a spunky return from Marcus Sherels and some good energy out of Christian Ponder, but a number of penalties ended up stalling the drive and they had to punt.

The good news was, however, that Jared Allen and his defense was able to take advantage of the Lions being pinned deep and the Lions went three-and-out, punting from their own end zone.

The Vikings started out in Lions territory and Bill Musgrave proceeded to call a very good series of plays, including a reverse to Jarius Wright, that was highlighted by a long gainer to Devin Aromashadu to set the Vikings up inside the ten.

In the red zone, Ponder tripped on his drop back and then a no-gain passing play set up a third and goal from the ten.  The throw made on third down was to Toby Gerhart about six yards shy of the end zone and he was unable to punch it in.  The Vikings again had to settle for a Blair Walsh field goal.

The Lions then came out gunning, with two passes in a row going to Calvin Johnson, and both were caught.  One was for 51 yards and the Vikings defense immediately found themselves defending their own goalline.  After first down featured a botched snap, Stafford floated a beautiful pass over the head of Harrison Smith and into the hands of Brandon Pettigrew for a touchdown.

The Vikings then came out gunning with Christian Ponder spreading the ball around to Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and even John Carlson.  The third quarter ended with the Vikings holding a six point lead and knocking on the door.

I have had a hectic week and while I fully intended to produce a full “Preview” segment like normal, but I ran out of time.  I still wanted to get something up in advance of this game, however, as it stands to be a turning point type of matchup for this 2012 Vikings team.

It could be a turn for the best, but it could also be a turn for the worst.

Here are five items I consider to be the most important this afternoon:

1.  Time To Go To Bat

Seattle’s starting rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has, thus far in his young career, overcome the pre-Draft knock on him that he is too short.  It is time for that to stop.  Wilson has been an impressive rookie in an already impressive class of quarterbacks, but the Vikings must game plan to shut him down despite the absence of cornerback Chris Cook.

One way they can do that is to use their big defensive linemen to get into the throwing lanes and get their hands in the air.  Brian Robison put on a clinic last week in terms of batting passes, and Jared Allen and Kevin Williams have both made highlight reels in the past by doing this, so we know this isn’t an original idea for the Vikings defense.

Wilson is short.  He may be succeeding anyways, but his passes are more susceptible to being batted down at the line of scrimmage… that is just physics.  The Vikings need to give their secondary some help by employing the long arms of Robison and company this afternoon.

2.  Tackle Well, Live Longer

The Vikings cannot completely stop Seahawk’s running back Marshawn Lynch, but they can endeavor to contain him.

The “Beast” will not be contained, however, if the Vikings continue to tackle (or, perhaps, not tackle) the way they have been the last three weeks.  They missed 17 tackles last week, which resulted in Doug Martin’s monster game on Thursday Night Football.

Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, and Erin Henderson have their work cut out for them this week as they face the running back who is closest to Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing lead.

3.  Run, Run, Run… and then Run Some More

I’m going to skip the Ponder-doubting that has overwhelmed Vikings Nation in the past few weeks.

Instead, I want to remember a Kansas City team that a few years ago won a significant amount of football game by embracing their stellar running game to the fullest.  Remember when the Chiefs ran Jamal Charles and Thomas Jones on what seemed like every down, including fourth, to move the chains in a safe and time-consuming manner?  I want to see that type of dedication to the run game with the Vikings, who are very well built to do it.

The best way to win this game, and shut up that damned 12th man, is to shove Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart down their throats for seven minutes at a time.

4.  Start Utilizing Rudolph… For Real

Second year tight end Kyle Rudolph is having a decent season, particularly in terms of touchdown catches.  However, I think there is still plenty of untapped potential here.

The Seahawks boast a number of young, high-quality cornerbacks and that could spell trouble for mediocre performers like Jerome Simpson and Michael Jenkins.

Getting the ball to Percy Harvin is always a must, but Rudolph needs to start being utilized more in the every down passing game.  He needs to be running seam routes and he needs to be a threat no matter where the Vikings are on the field.

Feed him the ball, Musgrave.

5.  Special Teams Must Be Special Today

Most of you probably think I’m going to talk about Percy Harvin’s returns or Blair Walsh’s big leg, and that is certainly part of it.

I think both of these teams, however, have very dangerous threats on special teams and the biggest point of emphasis needs to be the Vikings ability to play mistake-free football on the coverage unit.  Leon Washington has a habit of embarrassing opponents, and plllllease Football Gods… don’t let it be the Vikings.

PREDICTION:

I think another close one is in store for us here, and I worry about the outcome, but I still think this Vikings team will be 6-3 in a few hours.  As long as common sense is utilized by the Vikings coaching staff, and the players execute like we know they can, they can come out of this game with another win.

My prediction:  22-17, Vikings

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In conducting live chats, reading comments from readers, and just generally gauging the reaction to recent games I have noticed that Vikings fans are torn on whether negativity, or positivity in some cases, is appropriate following poor performances.

I have given it a lot of thought in the last 24 hours and have decided that this is a rebuilding year, no matter how much success we have, and that whether they are contrived as positive or negative lessons, the most important thing to keep in mind is that this young team is learning the lessons they need to be learning.

So, for the rest of this season, you can expect to see my new weekly segment entitled “Lessons Learned” as I fully intend to focus on what this team has done, will do, and needs to do in order to create a brighter future.

Strangely enough, the first “lesson” I took away from Thursday Night’s debacle is not so much for the players, but rather for the Hoard.

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I didn’t understand it. How could the Vikings be getting absolutely demolished at home against a 2-4 Buccaneers team? This isn’t possible. This just cannot be happening.

And then it happened. It hit me hard – harder than Chris Kluwe pu… Nevermind…

But I just didn’t understand it until NFL Network shared this wonderful stat with us: The Buccaneers broke their 10 road game losing streak with a win over, our beloved purple, the Minnesota Vikings.

Why didn’t anyone mention the Buccaneers hadn’t won an away game in 640 minutes of football. This thing could have been much easier to endure.

Nevertheless, here we are. The Vikings are 5-3. We got decimated at home by a 2-4 team. The sky is falling. I’m on the ledge. Take your positivity elsewhere. Angry Brett has arrived.

This venting session brought to you courtesy of Angry Brett

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