When it comes to firing on all cylinders, this week’s win over the Carolina Panthers may have been the best of Mike Zimmer’s young head coaching career in Minnesota. With efficient play on both offense and defense, and a huge boost from Mike Priefer’s special teams, the Vikings sent Cam Newton packing to the tune of a 31-13 final score.
Before we attempt to crown a player from this week, here is a look at previous winners as voted on by the readers here at VT.
WEEK ONE: Cordarrelle Patterson
WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith
WEEK THREE: Harrison Smith
WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater
WEEK FIVE: Harrison Smith
WEEK SIX: Linval Joseph
WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen
WEEK EIGHT: Anthony Barr
WEEK NINE: Everson Griffen
WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson
WEEK TWELVE: Xavier Rhodes
And this week’s nominations are…
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: Despite rumors of illness and fevers, Bridgewater turned in a polished performance against Carolina, showing off that calmness that Vikings fans are quickly growing fond of. His efficient passing (15 of 21) earned him a modest 138 yards and two scores. He also added 12 yards on two running attempts. Considering the quality and health of this offensive line, and the issues we’ve witnessed at the receiver position, this was a particularly noteworthy performance from Bridgewater. Seeing him connect on a deep route to Jarius Wright was certainly a welcomed bonus after his numerous struggles throwing the long ball.
GREG JENNINGS: Despite the many Vikings fans that are underwhelmed by Jennings, I really love watching the guy play. He is a savvy veteran that just plays smart football and does so many of the little things right. On a day when the Vikings didn’t have to play much offense early on, and simply guard their lead later on, Jennings quietly had one of his best performances of the season. He caught five of his six targets for 45 yards, a sly juke, and a score. He may very well be the main reason cornerback Antoine Cason is now unemployed.
EVERSON GRIFFEN: Can this guy get anymore beastly? Griffen added five tackles and two sacks to his season totals, which alone is enough to gain him consideration here. Add to that his 43 yard return off of a blocked punt and you have the makings of a bona fide “Player of the Week” candidate. Anybody else want to see Griffen line up at tight end, catch a touchdown, and become our own little version of J.J. Watt?
JASPER BRINKLEY: He had the aforementioned punt block that allowed for Everson Griffen’s touchdown, but he also turned in a nice day on defense. He ended up third on the team with seven tackles.
CHAD GREENWAY: He didn’t block a punt or score a touchdown, but Chad Greenway played one of his better games in recent memory. He led the Vikings in tackles (10), including one for a loss, and even had a defended pass that showed some awareness that we could have used out of him earlier this season.
XAVIER RHODES: The latest evidence that Xavier Rhodes is a shutdown cornerback in the making? How about seven passes thrown his way with zero catches allowed? That’s right, primarily tasked with blanketing rookie standout Kelvin Benjamin, Rhodes allowed no production at all. Three of those targets were skillfully batted away by Rhodes and he nearly came up with an amazing interception.
ADAM THIELEN: Even though it was just one play, Thielen’s all-in-one punt block and return for a touchdown gave the Vikings an early cushion that gave them the upper-hand for the remainder of the game. It is rare that a Mankato standout plays on the active roster, let alone makes a huge impact on a game, but Thielen just continues to surprise us in positive ways. Thielen’s score went for 30 yards.
OTHER: Plenty of other players did their jobs well on Sunday. Kyle Rudolph, John Sullivan, Jarius Wright, Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd (before injury), Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Harrison Smith and even Jeff Locke all come to mind. I narrowed the list down as best as I could, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Click “other” and let us know who your vote is for in the comments section if you find my nominations to be lacking.