Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trailing Clouds of Playoff Heaven: Vikings 37, Packers 34

Playoffs. 10-6. A win against the Green Bay Packers.  

Christian Ponder made some of the best throws he's made all season in this game. He's erratic even at his best, but some of his late throws--the bomb to Jarius Wright, the 3rd down pass to Michael Jenkins on the last drive--were beautiful. He showed poise, sound decision making, and generally good passing. You're crazy if you aren't terrified of Ponder making a road playoff start next week--but today Ponder gave the team quality play with his mobility and his throwing.

Aaron Rodgers torched the Vikes for 365 yards and 4 TDs--but it would have been even worse if not for the Viking pass rush. The Vikings had five sacks (three from Everson Griffen, who has been a monstrous force of late), but harassed Rodgers even more. The defense mostly wilted against the Packers, but the defensive line came through just enough.

But this is Adrian Peterson's team. Nobody would ever accuse me of saying anything against Peyton Manning--in my opinion he's the greatest QB ever and a worthy MVP candidate. But this was Adrian Peterson's season, and this was Adrian Peterson's game. Once again, an opposing defense had reason to focus its defense around stopping Peterson. Once again, he repeatedly bounced around at a crowded line of scrimmage and found open field. Once again he cut and juked and powered and sprinted his way to big gains and first downs and generally dragged the Vikings around the field. The Vikes scored 37 points today because Christian Ponder gave competent support to Peterson's superhuman efforts--which today were little different than they've been in any other game over the past 10 weeks. Peterson rushed for 2,000 yards, led a team to 10 wins, and led a team to four straight wins to close the season and make it into the playoffs. Want to guess which Vikings have over 500 yards of offense this season? It's Percy Harvin--who has missed the last eight games--and Peterson. That's it. Peterson has had an old-school rushing season in a league that's built for the pass for a team that can't really pass. He's the best Viking running back of all-time, and before his career is out we'll discuss whether he's the best Viking of all-time and the best running back of all-time.  This was his signature season. And this was his signature game: a must-win game against a good team, and Peterson willed his team to victory with 199 rushing yards, including a run to set up the game-winning field goal.

The 2012 Vikings have four wins against teams with 10+ wins (a measure of quality I've always liked): San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, and Green Bay. We can fret about how they can win in the playoffs tomorrow (or the next day, or the day after that). Today we can celebrate.

We've been through a lot as fans in recent years: that game that ended the 2009 season, combined 9-23 in the next two years, and regular anxiety over Adrian Peterson's health, that status of the stadium and whether the Vikings would move, and a whole lot of terrible, terrible quarterback play. Today we can stop and recognize for a moment that we root for a 10 win playoff team that just beat its biggest rival for the first time since 2009.


  1. Great win! Will be tough to win at Green Bay, but at least we have that opportunity.
    AP is the best Viking right now. If I heard it right, he did not break over 70 yards the first SIX games. And still missed the record by 9 yards.
    If he stays healthy and we get a pro passing attack, he will set record for years to come.

    Enjoy the win and get ready for the play-offs!

    1. Peterson's first 6 output was pedestrian by his standards of late but only against Indy in game two did he run for less than 70 (60 yards on 16 carries). He only had one game in that 6 over 100 though – 102 against Detroit. After that it was off to the races.

      Beating GB will be difficult, of course, especially if the Winfield can't play and Sherels has to play a lot. However, I'll worry about that on Saturday. SKOL!

  2. BJ Raji must think he is Mutombo with his finger wag. Did he not see AP get 199 yards against them?

    Peckers with the refs really frustrate me. I see holding penalties not called on at least 3 occasions.

    Then, the red flag is thrown. Detroit does it and it cancels the review. Peckers do it and it is allowed as "the review had already started". BUT there is a penalty for it. Which one is it?

    Nelson hides the flag and it is cute and a good move. Another team does that and it is cheating.

    Great win considering all the facts.

  3. Ponder looked un-Ponder like in the win. I'm not foolish enough to assume this is the new norm, but MN can beat anyone with QB production like that (assuming healthy Peterson and defense and continued solid blocking from o-line).

    come back, Winfield! sherels does enough as a returner.

  4. Man, what a game. A wonderful 4-week winning streak to an improbable season. Kudos, guys, kudos.

    Since I can't comment on the Strib, nor do I actually want to given the toxicity and stupidity of Viking "fans" on those boards, I just want to reiterate what an amazing season this TEAM has had. "Well, the Vikings don't go anywhere without Peterson." TEAM. "Ponder is the worst quarterback in the league." TEAM. "Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff cannot coach." TEAM. "Rick Spielman is the worst GM in the NFL." TEAM. TEAM. TEAM. Give credit where credit is due. I do and I recognize a job well done. Go Vikings!

  5. Strib must have rules. Have to have some intelligence to get on their site. idiot!

  6. Thanks for the comments, but let's keep it civil on here. As Viking fans, we're all in this together.

    The Crusher: I've had my doubts (and still do) about Ponder, but his last two performances are what you can win with, as long as you've got other things going for you. I'd still like the Vikings to bring in a vet to challenge him, but his play of late probably means the Vikings stay with Ponder, Webb and MBT in the fold.

    Coaching-wise, Frazier and his staff have done a lot of good things going back to the loss in Green Bay. They've earned the extensions they are surely going to get after the season concludes - although when it happens I'll have a bit more to say about that as well.