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Harvin Added To Pro Bowl Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 4:10 pm

Vikings rookie WR Percy Harvin, who this season set a new team record for kickoff return TDs with 2 and last week set new team records for all-purpose yardage and rushing yards by a WR, has been added to the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster as a kick returner.

Originally, Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson was tabbed as the NFC’s Pro Bowl returner as well as a WR. Because Jackson was selected at 2 positions, he will participate in the Pro Bowl at the position for which he received the most voting points (WR) and Harvin will be added to the roster and occupy the other slot.

“I feel blessed to make it to the Pro Bowl,” Harvin said on Monday. “It is a great honor and humbling to be recognized by the other players and coaches in the NFC. I also want to thank all the fans who voted for me. But the biggest thanks goes to my teammates. I can’t do much of anything without the ten other guys blocking, so really it’s like a special teams honor for all of us.”

Harvin is the only Viking in team history with2 kickoff return TDs and his 27.5-yard kickoff return average is the 2nd-best single-season mark in team history. He is just the 2nd Vikings kick returner ever to be named to the Pro Bowl (Koren Robinson – 2005).

The 42-man NFC squad is comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus 4 specialists.


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Submit Your vikings.com Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 3:46 pm

Do you have a question or comment about the Vikings win over the NY Giants? Or a question about the Vikings and their position in the playoffs? Send them to the vikings.com Mailbag.

You can submit your questions/comments to me by sending an email to wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. I can’t post every question/comment, but I’ll answer them all.

The vikings.com Mailbag will be published ever Friday during the postseason.


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Several Vikings Alter Team Record Book On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 3:12 pm

On Saturday in this space we, with the help of Vikings assistant director of public relations Tom West, enumerated several current Vikings who were on the verge of breaking team records with one game remaining in the regular season.

So now that the regular season has concluded, let’s take a look at how those players did in their pursuit of team/personal records on Sunday…

– The 2009 Vikings did become just the 3rd team in franchise history to tally a perfect 8-0 record at home.

– With their win on Sunday, the Vikings collected their 22nd over the past 2 seasons, which is 1 win better than the New England Patriots, who lost to Houston on Sunday. The 22 Vikings wins over the past 2 seasons is 2nd only to the Indianapolis Colts, who came out on the winning end of games a total of 26 times since 2008.

– With 81 total yards on Sunday, rookie WR Percy Harvin broke the team’s rushing/receiving/return yardage mark that was held by Herschel Walker. Harvin finished with 2,081 all-purpose yards to break Walker’s previous record of 2,051, which was set in 1990.

– On the Vikings 1st offensive possession, Harvin motioned into the backfield from the slot and took a handoff from QB Brett Favre. Harvin then dashed 22 yards to the 1-yardline. That 22-yard run broke the Vikings rookie yardage record, which was held by teammate Adrian Peterson (2,021 yards in 2007).

– Peterson, by the way, found the endzone on Sunday and tallied his 18th TD of the season. That mark places him alone in 2nd place for TDs in a season, behind only Chuck Foreman’s 22-TD effort in 1975. Going into Sunday’s game, Peterson had 17 TDs and was tied with WRs Cris Carter and Randy Moss.

– Favre, who didn’t throw an INT on Sunday, set a new career-low in INTs with 7 and he set a new team record for lowest INT percentage (number of INTs compared to attempts). The veteran gunslinger’s previous low for INTs in a season was 13, set in 1995 and 1996. Favre also set a new Vikings record for the most games in a season not throwing an INT with 10, boasting a 9-1 record in those games.


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Childress Lays Out Vikings Plan For Bye Week

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 1:49 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters at Winter Park on Monday afternoon for his usual day-after-the-game press conference to review Sunday’s victory over the NY Giants and address questions about his team and how they’ll approach their bye week.

By virtue of Sunday’s win and a Philadelphia Eagles loss later in the day, the Vikings secured a 1st-round bye in the NFC playoffs and won’t play again until Sunday, January 17 in the Divisional Round.

When asked if he preferred to have a bye this week compared to playing in the Wild Card round and continuing the momentum generated from 6 consecutive quarters of outstanding offensive production, Childress unequivocally said the bye is the way to go.

“I’m excited about it,” Childress said of the 1st-round bye. “It’s one of the goals that we set in place, aside from wanting to win the NFC North and playing at home in the playoffs. There’s a reason you want to play at home. We have great crowds, great fans, obviously we’re 8-0 at home and you want to play off of all those things.”

Childress said he was about to head into a team meeting after the press conference to address his team and lay out the plan for the bye week.

“We’ll take time to come in here and meet today and talk about what the calendar looks like,” Childress said. “I think we’re best served right now to get some rest mentally and physically.”

Following the team meeting, it sounded as if the players were free to go for the week and spend time with their families. Some players, Childress said, will remain in town to treat and train in an attempt to be fresh for the playoffs. They will be expected back sometime over next weekend to resume their preparations for the Divisional round at some point on Sunday.

We’ve explained in this space in the past that being a head coach has demands that extend beyond just winning football games on Sundays. Balancing that with administrative duties and the task of managing so many different personalities, among other things, is a challenge and requires one to make difficult decisions.

But Childress said giving the players this week off at this point in the season was not a difficult decision.

“It is true that people you locker by every day you see more than you probably see members of your family,” Childress explained. “When you spend that much time with somebody, sometimes familiarity can breed contempt. While we have a great group that’s fun to be around, they can use a little down time from each other and come back with a bounce in their step on Sunday.”

The Vikings coaching staff will spend this week working ahead on preparations for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. It’s impossible to know at this point who the Vikings will play in the Divisional Round, but since they’ve played games this year already against Arizona and Green Bay, the staff is better-served to focus on Dallas and Philadelphia this week. And although the Vikings can’t play the Eagles unless they meet in the NFC Championship Game, it makes sense to prepare for the Eagles because they’ll encounter a lot of tape on Philadelphia as they prepare for the Cowboys (both teams play in the NFC East).


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NFL Announces Divisional Round Schedule

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 12:07 pm

Even though the Vikings don’t know who they’ll be playing during the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs, they now know when they’ll be playing.

The NFL has announced the Divisional Round schedule and the Vikings, who are the NFC’s #2 seed will be playing on Sunday, January 17 at 12:00 p.m. CT at Mall of America Field.

The #1-seeded New Orleans Saints will host their Divisional Round game on Saturday, January 16 at 3:30 CT.

Both the Vikings and Saints games will be televised by FOX.

In the AFC, the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts will host their game on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. CT and the AFC’s #2 seed, the San Diego Chargers, will conclude the Divisional Round by hosting their game at 3:30 on Sunday.

Both of the AFC games will be televised by CBS.


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A Down Season? Not For Adrian

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 11:35 am

A constant criticism I’ve heard this year from people who follow the Vikings is about Adrian Peterson. It’s as if some suggest that #28 had a down year.

And I’m just not seeing it.

Or maybe I’m just not agreeing with it. I can see where fans point to the 7 lost fumbles. I’ll acknowledge, that is a bad mark on his body of work. And it’s also important to point out that his yards per carry number went down this season while his negative yardage runs went up.

But with all of that said, I look back at Peterson’s season to this point and think he actually had a great year. He finished 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,383, which is the 3rd best single-season effort in Vikings history and is more than he had during his rookie season. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry and was 2nd in the NFL in runs of 20+ yards.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is the fact that Peterson tallied a league-high 18 TDs and set a Vikings single-season records for games with a TD (12).

Another criticism I hear about Peterson is that the Vikings don’t use him correctly. But again, I disagree. I’d actually argue that the Vikings have done a great job so far this season of using #28.

Sure, there are times late in games – in crunch time – when the Vikings best player (Peterson) isn’t in the game. But isn’t that why you have a player such as Chester Taylor? If you’ve got a guy who can pass protect and come out of the backfield as a great receiver in the screen game and the short passing game, why not use him?

On top of that, utilizing Peterson and Taylor in combination has probably increased production from Peterson. Since Peterson was drafted by the Vikings in 2007, Taylor has 352 carries and he’s gained 4.5 yards per carry. So, the Vikings have taken 352 carries off of Peterson’s workload (that’s a whole season’s worth of carries) over the past 3 seasons and they’ve still gained 4.5 yards on each of those carries. That’s a very good job of managing RBs.

Just think about how quickly we’ve seen guys such as Larry Johnson and Terrell Davis and Jamal Anderson fall off the shelf because of over-use. The Vikings are avoiding that by using Taylor a fair amount. It’s extending Peterson’s career and, this year more than any other year, it’s kept Peterson fresh as we approach the playoffs.

Finally, one more reason I think Peterson has had a great year and the Vikings have done a great job of managing the league’s best RB is because they’re continuing to improve his overall skill set. Peterson had a career-high 43 receptions for 436 yards during the 2009 regular season. His previous single-season high for receptions was 21 for 125 yards. The coaching staff is finding more ways to get him the ball? I’m all for that.

My conclusion is the Vikings used Peterson beautifully this season. They put him in when it counted (18 TDs), they saved wear and tear on him (Chester had 138 touches) and they nearly doubled his previous career-high in receptions.


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Playoff Schedule Set For Wild Card Weekend

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 10:22 am

Although the Vikings and their fans won’t have a rooting interest in the action next weekend, we can start making our plans for watching the games because the NFL has announced the schedule.

Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday at 3:30 CT with an AFC rematch between the NY Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. On Sunday night the Jets and Bengals concluded their regular seasons by playing each other in New York, with the Jets winning 37-0 and thus earning a spot in the playoffs and a rematch with the Bengals. This weekend’s game will be played in Cincinnati however, because the Jets enter the playoffs as a wild card and the Bengals enter as a division winner.

The nightcap on Saturday is an NFC matchup and another rematch from Week 17. The Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off a 24-0 loss to the Cowboys, will make a return trip to Dallas to take on the NFC East champs. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT.

Both games on Saturday will be televised by NBC.

On Sunday, the AFC will begin the action again with a noon CT kickoff between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Baltimore enters as the wild card while New England stands as winners of the AFC East.

Wild Card Weekend concludes with another rematch from Week 17, this one between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. Green Bay demolished Arizona in Week 17 during a game Arizona treated more like a preseason contest than a regular season game. Much more is on the line this time, though, and these teams will kickoff at 3:40 CT.

Indianapolis and San Diego have the byes in the AFC while the Vikings and New Orleans Saints have the NFC byes. The Vikings, as the #2 seed in the NFC, will play the highest-seeded winner in the NFC from Wild Card Weekend.

Here are the seeds for both the AFC and NFC:

AFC
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. San Diego Chargers
3. New England Patriots
4. Cincinnati Bengals
5. NY Jets
6. Baltimore Ravens

NFC
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Philadelphia Eagles


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Favre Makes Strong Closing Argument For MVP

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 4, 2010 – 7:44 am

With his otherworldly performance – 25 of 31 for 316 yards and 4 TDs – on Sunday against the Giants in a dominant 44-7 victory, Vikings QB Brett Favre put the finishing touches on a strong closing argument for MVP consideration. In a weekend full of NFL drama, Favre, as no other player did, carried his team to victory in a big spot.

Although team achievement always trumps individual accomplishment, the debate about who should win this year’s NFL MVP award is nearly as compelling as the debate about which team should be favored in this year’s Super Bowl tournament.

There are so many things to consider in this MVP debate, from stats to team record to the intangibles an individual brings to his team. And the bottom line is there are probably 3 or 4 players worthy of this year’s award.

The top 5 vote-getters – in my estimation – this year will be (in alphabetical order): Drew Brees, Favre, Chris Johnson, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

Given this year’s set of circumstances, I believe the MVP should be a QB, which leaves out Johnson, who broke Marshall Faulk’s yards from scrimmage record this year.

With this debate down to a quartet of QBs, it becomes nearly impossible to separate the 4. But a very strong argument can be made for Favre.

At 40 years of age, Favre had his best season – he completed 68.4% of his passes for 4,202 yards with a pristine 33-7 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating of 107.2. The passer rating is the highest single-season rating of his career, he’s tied for 2nd in TD passes behind Brees, threw fewer INTs than Brees, Manning or Rivers and had a similar completion percentage to Manning and a better one than Rivers. And, while the other 3 QBs coasted through the conclusion of the regular season, Favre put an exclamation point on it by passing for 637 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs in his final 2 games.

The statistical angle on this debate is pretty close to even – Brees was #1 in passer rating but Favre had more TDs and finished just 2.4 points behind in rating. When you consider some of the intangible factors, however, it gets even closer.

Some of the shine is wiped away from Brees’ star because the Saints lost their perfect record down the stretch and had other close calls late in the season against the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins. So that bumps Manning up into the top 2 in this discussion with Favre.

Manning controls a game at the line of scrimmage as no other QB seems to do. He’s a step ahead of everyone else and demands a high level of play from those around him. In fact, he increases the ability of those around him. But Favre has done the same thing this year. Favre has had the miracle finishes (vs. San Francisco), the dominant performances (Weeks 10-12 and vs. NY Giants) and the gutty performances (Weeks 1 and 2) that we’ve seen from him throughout his career. And then he topped it all off by having the best statistical season of his 19-year run in the NFL while also leading the Vikings to a 12-4 record and the NFC’s #2 seed.

Anyone who has watched the Vikings in recent years knows exactly how valuable Favre is to this team. And that’s what puts him over the top, perhaps, in this year’s MVP debate. We’ve seen this every year from Manning, it seems. But what Favre did this season you don’t see every year.

The Vikings offense has a different swagger and confidence with #4 under center. When the game is on the line, no longer do Vikings fans hope it’s their defense that can somehow save the day. Now, Vikings fans are confident Favre will get the job done and the defense will close the door.

I don’t know who should win this year’s MVP award. Brees, Favre and Manning would all be good choices and it depends which angle you take (stats, team accomplishment, intangibles, etc.) as to who has the edge. But I do know that no matter which angle you take on this debate, the one consistent factor his Favre – he’s either #1 or #2 in every aspect. He’s done everything he could do to win it.


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