Vikings Grab Another Win, But It Wasn’t Pretty

When Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff for 103 yards for a touchdown, the tone of this game was set when the referees announced that Marvin Mitchell’s block to the back was getting it called back.  Despite a number of bad mistakes, missed opportunities, and questionable play calls the Vikings were able to beat the hapless Cardinals by a score of 21 – 14.

Here are some post-game thoughts:

Peterson Looked Fantastic

Adrian had a great game, point blank.  He ran the ball 23 times for 153 yards (6.6 yard average), and scored the first touchdown of the day on a beautiful 13 yarder.  He tacked on two catches for six yards.

Peterson had his best game of the season and finally truly looked to be back to his old self.  He was making quick cuts, had some getup in his step, and put on an impressive display of power running on a number of occasions.

On a day when the offense couldn’t seem to move through the air at all, Peterson’s dominance couldn’t have come at a better time.

Ponder’s Play Has Me Worried

This season has a similar feel to it as when I was a kid and was allowed, in rare instances, to eat my dessert prior to choking down my vegetables.  Let’s face it, the schedule has been much easier so far than what we expect from the second half of the season.

That is why my patience is wearing thin with Christian Ponder’s inability to take over a football game.  I’m not saying he can’t be afforded the occasional mistake, but what I am anxiously awaiting every Sunday is seeing something out of him that shows me he is capable of willing this football team to victory.  I appreciate his fairly consistent ability to not screw things up miserably, but we need more than that if we are going to make the playoffs… and especially advance in the playoffs.

Ponder was 8 for 17 on Sunday for a measly 58 passing yards.  He did hit Percy Harvin on a three yard touchdown, but threw two interceptions that looked all too familiar.  On one of them, just before the half, he was very lucky that Jay Feely missed the subsequent field goal attempt or else this game could have gone in a very different direction.

Doing What We Are Supposed To Do

After typing up my weekly preview segment, I remember lying in bed recalling all of the times I thought the Vikings had a “sure thing” matchup only to be disappointed during the following game.

I was worried about that this week, with a Cardinals team that has been giving away sacks like they are chocolate candies on Halloween.  So, naturally, I was worried that the Vikings would actually generate very little pass rush and the purple would once again fail to do the things we all expected them to accomplish with ease.

Thank goodness I was wrong.

The Vikings got seven sacks on Sunday.  Brian Robison led the team with three, Jared Allen notched himself a pair, while Antoine Winfield and Kevin Williams each got in on one.  The pass rush was fun to watch, even with John Skelton doing an admirable job of avoiding it at times, and it was a huge difference maker in this game.

Tough To Form An Opinion On Simpson

After missing two weeks of action, Jerome Simpson made his return to the field on Sunday and managed to catch only one ball for eight yards.  The biggest impact he had actually came on a pass that wasn’t caught, but rather when he managed to draw a pass interference penalty that set up Adrian Peterson’s touchdown run.

In all fairness to Simpson, it is hard to catch footballs when the coaching staff doesn’t have the quarterback throw them to you, and when the quarterback simply doesn’t throw them to you.

For all the hype about Simpson being a “key” part of the offense, the only guy capable of stretching the field, the coaches sure don’t seem interested in utilizing those skills on any consistent basis.

Smith Has His Best Game To Date

If you take away Harrison Smith’s third quarter interception for a touchdown, he still had his best game as a rookie in my assessment.  The guy was all over the field making plays, whether it be solo tackles or pass breakups, and I still can’t seem to train my brain to believe that a Vikings safety is making good plays.

Matt Kalil, Smith, Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, and Blair Walsh have all helped out in this turnaround season for the Vikings and my hopes for the future are increased because of it.  Rick Spielman’s first Draft after being named G.M. appears to be mighty successful, so I am looking forward to how he continues to advance the talent on this roster.

Musgrave Fixes Red Zone Woes, But Otherwise Baffles

The offensive line and Christian Ponder were all struggling today.  Badly.

To anyone that has been remotely paying attention to this year’s Arizona Cardinals this shouldn’t have been a real surprising revelation.  What was surprising, however, was that offensive coordinator just kept throwing on first down and beyond, even when the Vikings should simply have been trying to protect a lead and chew up the clock.

Sure, Adrian Peterson got 23 rushing attempts which is about right, but Gerhart was the only other running back to carry the ball… and he only did that once.  Harvin carried it twice, and Ponder added one carry of his own.

Still, this apparent obsession with throwing on first down and failing to do what was working (running the ball) resulted in this game being closer than it should have been.  Not-so-coincidentally, the Vikings converted only 1 of 10 third downs against the Cardinals.  Again, this might work against Arizona, but it has to improve really fast if this season is going to avoid a downward spiral.

Healthy On A Short Week

The Vikings get to occupy some prime time air space (uh oh) on Thursday night as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Bucs are coming off of a disappointing last second loss to New Orleans, which sent them to a 2-4 record.

The short week makes for equally difficult playing circumstances, but each appear to have come out of Sunday relatively unscathed.

Leslie Frazier said that the only notable injury the Vikings sustained on Sunday was the suspected concussion that caused tight end John Carlson to leave the game.  This likely means that Carlson will be unable to play on Thursday, but he has been such a minor part of the team’s offense it isn’t exactly a reason to hit the panic button.

Other than that, the short week means that this hack blogger has to hurry up and get his preview article done.