The expectation of nearly everyone prior to the game today was that the Vikings would have no chance against the 49ers.
In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen… Duh… Winning!
There was tiger blood on the field today as the Vikings started with a very strong first drive. It looked like it might stall in the red zone after 2 consecutive incompletions by Ponder. However, the Vikings managed to get to the 2 yard line on a great catch by Rudolph… and then another stall as Musgrave called 3 running plays up the middle in a row. He’s awesome, isn’t he? Run isn’t working up the middle? Let’s try it again! In a move I did not see coming, the Vikings went for it on 4th and goal and a Ponder to Rudolph connection put 6 points on the board for the Vikings. Wow. I did not anticipate any of our coaching staff actually having the guts to make a bold move. Of course, when you’re playing the team that everyone is talking about (hint: that’s not the Vikings), you either go big or go home.
The first half was a strong showing by the Vikings; however, the defense got progressively worse as the game neared half-time. Poor coverage in the secondary (of course) but also minimal pressure on the quarterback. Allen missed a sack, Randy Moss was wide open – it really looked like the 49ers were going to march right down the field for a touchdown just before the half. Instead, the Vikings D finally held AND Letroy Guion blocked a field goal. I know what you’re thinking – but I’m not even kidding. And then, the Vikings get the ball back, march it downfield and Walsh stuffs a 52 yard field goal. First placekicker in the Vikings’ history to have 3 consecutive games with 50+ yard field goals. So – the Vikings went into the locker room at half-time with a 17-3 lead.
Starting the 2nd half, a Blair Walsh kick off, 9 yards deep in the end zone, resulted in the 49ers returning it 94 yards, nearly for a TD. The Vikings’ D held the Niners to 3, miraculously enough. Unfortunately, the Vikings went 3 and out for their 1st offensive series of the 2nd half. Later in the 3rd, Walsh had another deep kick off that the 49ers again returned, this time for 50 yards. Special teams for the Vikings are decidedly unspecial. Toby Gerhart tried hard to give the game back to the 49ers 3 different times, and the refs gave Harbaugh more challenges and time outs than were legal under game rules. But despite ALL of that, the Vikings managed the biggest upset of the weekend. Kinda makes me wish I had picked them to win, but let’s all be honest: no non-homer Vikings fan thought that they were going to win today, and yet, win they did.
Chad Greenway. 8 tackles in the first half alone. He was all over the field. He ended the day with 10 solo tackles, 3 assists and 2 sacks. For those who’ve been saying he needs to earn his contract, I assume he salutes you.
Christian Ponder. He made a lot of good decisions today, not the least of which was his 23 yard run for a TD. He came out strong and stayed focused the entire game. He said during the post game presser that he had prepared differently for this game – as had the whole team. Well, whatever they did, it should be the weekly standard. He ended the day 21/35 for 198 yards and 2 TDs, no interceptions (although one could argue he should have had at least 1).
Adrian Peterson’s productivity may be down, but he’s testing his leg and not getting hurt as he gets back into a rhythm. On the post-game Fan Line show on KFAN, they pointed out that he wasn’t making good decisions about which way to run. I agree with that to an extent, but I think it’s partly still being afraid to really let loose on his leg. I think he needs a little time and he’ll be back.
Antoine Winfield. Not only is he a tremendous player for the Vikings but he also addressed the team this week and I credit him with their new-found sense of purpose.
Kyle Rudolph. That guy can catch anything apparently. 2 TDs on the day.
Charlie Johnson. What is that guy still doing on the roster? Watching him play, it’s beginning to make sense that Peyton Manning has a neck issue.
Toby Gerhart making Adrian Peterson look like he really knew how to hang onto the ball in 2009. Frazier and Musgrave made a HUGE error in continuing to give him carries when the on-going fumbles (and the horrid officiating) could have still impacted the game. The coaching staff needs to be willing to bench primary players when their focus isn’t there.
Chris Cook. He’s crappy both on and off the field. He needs to be benched – or, better yet, cut like I wanted him to be last year.
Special teams coverage on kick offs. What a bunch of inept buffoons! 94 yard return, 50 yard return. For Odin’s sake – put Audie Cole in there or someone equally as solid if these starters can’t stop a damn return on balls 9 yards deep in the end zone.
Half-time adjustments. The coaching staff decided to go ahead and demotivate the team back to their usual 50% level of effort entering into the 3rd quarter. Luckily, the team remembered the inspiration provided by Antoine Winfield earlier this week and re-engaged for the win. It’s worth noting that Frazier said in his post-game presser that the coaching staff didn’t prep enough for the Colts and they decided to really focus in on this game. Guess what, Les… you should be doing that EVERY week. You should have been doing it since the day Chilly was shown the door! Frazier, Musgrave and Williams – what we need is for them to be fired and for the little old lady from Poltergeist to come to Winter Park to say “This house is clean.”
I saved most of my ire this week for the replacement officials. I haven’t said much about them to date because I think they are trying very hard in a difficult situation; HOWEVER – to not be able to count the number of time outs a team has. To give a head coach 2 challenges to which he is NOT entitled is unforgivable. Even fans at home have that basic level of ability. Those officials could have really impacted this game and so now, after that kind of absolute ineptitude, I will now officially say: NFL, you need to settle with the real officials. Real officials, you need to get reasonable with your demands and find a way to get back onto the field. Enough is enough.
Skol Vikings Nation!