The Vikings Week Four “Player of the Game” Award voting is below.
A hot start has the Vikings sitting pretty with a 4-0 record and a defense that could end up being one of the best in franchise history if the keep going. Monday night’s 24-10 victory over the New York Giants is just the fourth chapter in what is a long and grueling regular season, but I don’t think this is a novel anybody wants to set down.
The evening featured plenty of spectacular plays and individual performances, but we are here to narrow it down to one guy – that one special guy – that is awarded the “Player of the Game” award by you fine readers of Vikings Territory.
So far this season, you all have voted these honors to the following players:
WEEK ONE: Eric Kendricks
WEEK TWO: Sam Bradford
WEEK THREE: Everson Griffen
Now, before we move forward, I just want to make a quick note. It is quite possible that this week’s award truly belong to that home crowd. I know the noise cost the Giants a chance at three points on that opening drive and the crowd was relentless for the whole evening. I’m really excited about what appears to be a new level of home-field advantage U.S. Bank Stadium gives our team and I applaud those fans that are helping to maximize the effect. Keep it up!
It took four weeks, but Norv Turner and the Vikings were finally able to get a running game going against the Giants, and the main producer was “Jet” McKinnon. He was able to average 4.7 yards on his 18 carries (85 rushing yards total) and a score. That success added a new dimension to the Vikings offensive attack, and even seemed to open up some things in the passing game, where McKinnon was also able to produce an additional 10 yards on three catches.
This was easily the most impressive performance of the season for the Vikings offensive line and their prize free agent acquisition, Alex Boone. The run game found success, Sam Bradford was largely kept clean and didn’t get sacked once, and Boone paving the way for that Matt Asiata touchdown was a thing of beauty.
Norv Turner used “Flash” in a way that had many of us shouting “What took so long?” last night. Patterson was all over the field and compounded the confusion that was visible from the Giants defense on a regular basis. He tied for a team-high five catches that went for 38 yards, ran the ball once for two more, and returned a kick for 29 yards. Those numbers aren’t gaudy or anything, but I also firmly believe his presence as a punt coverage gunner was the difference on the Dwayne Harris muffed punt that got things started in the right direction.
The Vikings were only able to hit Eli Manning twice throughout the game, as they clearly came in with a plan to get rid of the ball in under two seconds, but one of those hits came from Joseph. He was also a beast, particularly early on, in stopping the run and forcing that rash of New York punts in the first half. Joseph ended the day with three tackles to his name.
23 yards and a cloud of shame. That is the career-low stat line that Odell Beckham Jr. was able to post against this Vikings secondary, headed up by spectacular play from Rhodes, in a game where OBJ was clearly frustrated and then, later, disinterested. Rhodes ended the day with two tackles, two defended passes, and did his best Kirby Puckett impression by hauling in an Eli Manning pop fly to the outfield before returning it 29 yards. I have searched my brain since the game ended last night, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a Vikings cornerback play a game in my lifetime as impressively as I saw Xavier Rhodes play last night. Maybe, and only maybe, Antoine Winfield’s beat down of Michael Vick and the Eagles is a notch ahead but in a completely different way.
We should probably just keep Smith on this list every week. Even when he isn’t going nuts with some crazy splash play, Smith is just a constant enforcer that keeps opposing offenses honest in both the run game and the pass game. The range and versatility, the devastating hit… he just does it all. Monday night, he led the Vikings with nine tackles and helped ensure a very talented passing attack was one screen pass shy of being absolutely stonewalled.
Sam Bradford. Matt Asiata. Charles Johnson. Joe Berger. Terence Newman. Trae Waynes. Marcus Sherels. Anthony Barr. There were lots of guys to be proud of last night, and you are free to vary from my nominations by clicking “OTHER” in the poll below and leaving your vote in the comments section. Let’s face it, though, if you aren’t voting for Xavier Rhodes then you’re overthinking it.