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.