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Offensive Line, Defense Step Up In 2nd Half vs. Panthers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 31, 2011 – 9:01 am

Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder deserve every ounce of credit coming their way in the aftermath of Sunday’s 24-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. But if you have any more credit to pass around, throw some to the Vikings offensive line and the defensive effort because both were very good in the 2nd half at Carolina.

We’ll start with the offensive line, a group that has received more than its fair share of criticism lately and also a group dealing with injuries. C John Sullivan returned to action on Sunday from a concussion suffered 2 weeks ago and RG Anthony Herrera wasn’t able to go this week because of a knee injury. Fortunately for the Vikings, veteran lineman Joe Berger stepped into both roles over the past 2 weeks and the offensive line has improved along the way.

In the 2nd half on Sunday, the Vikings put together a pair of methodical drives where the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. The first drive came in the 3rd quarter and culminated in a 9-yard Peterson TD run. The drive went 85 yards in 12 plays and took 5:41 off the clock. The second long drive came in the 4th quarter and culminated in the game-winning FG. The drive went 72 yards in 13 plays and took 7:10 off the clock.

In those two drives, the offensive line paved the way for a total of 14 carries between Peterson and Gerhart for 85 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 1 TD. Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave did a great job of mixing in Gerhart occasionally to give Peterson a rest, and the offensive line consistently dominated the line of scrimmage to open up creases for the Vikings RBs. On the 3rd-quarter drive, here is a list of gains on the ground: 4, 9, 9, 11, 15, 1, 3, 9 (TD).

The Vikings had a 7-minute advantage in time of possession in the 2nd half, including an 11:01 to 3:59 advantage in the 4th quarter.

Defensively, the secondary will be criticized for giving up 7 receptions and 100 yards to Steve Smith and for giving up a 1st down on a 4th and 15 play late in the game. That’s all fair game, but ultimately the defense did a good enough job to contribute to this victory, and their effort in the 2nd half was much improved.

In the 2nd half, the Vikings allowed fewer 1st downs, total yards and rushing yards, and they forced Carolina into three 3-and-out drives that led to 10 Vikings points and, ultimately, the game-winning drive that was capped by a 31-yard Ryan Longwell FG.

Again, there are certainly areas that need improvement on this Vikings team, and the offensive line and defense are not absolved from that fact. But there’s no question that the 2nd half performances registered by the offensive line and the defense were major keys in the Vikings ability to scratch and claw their way to a win on the road against the Panthers.


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Submit Your Question For Coach Frazier To Answer On “Vikings GamePlan”

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 31, 2011 – 7:57 am

Each week on “Vikings GamePlan,” Head Coach Leslie Frazier will answer one fan-submitted question.  To submit your question to Coach Frazier, click here.

“GamePlan” airs each week on KARE 11 at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and is replayed at 10:30 a.m. on Fox Sports North.  To watch past episodes on vikings.com, click here.


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Quick Reaction: Vikings Stars Pace Victory Over Panthers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 5:38 pm

The Vikings took to the road on Sunday and earned their 2nd win of the 2011 season behind big-time performances from a few of their stars. The recap of the Vikings 24-21 victory is on the vikings.com home page, but as we fly home from Carolina on the team charter I thought I’d get the conversation going here on the blog.

So, here are a couple of thoughts from today’s game…

– The best RB in the NFL was up to his old tricks, as Adrian Peterson totaled 162 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs on the afternoon; he was the Vikings leading receiver and rusher. Peterson’s first TD came at the end of the 1st half after the Vikings turned Carolina over. Rookie QB Christian Ponder hit Peterson in the middle of the field on a check down, and Peterson made one cut to the outside and sprinted away from the defense for a 19-yard TD. His second TD came at the end of the 3rd quarter on an impressive run from 9 yards out, where he broke several tackles and drove a few defenders with him on the way to the end zone. It was a tough go for the Vikings with the ground game early on, but Peterson was relentless and eventually broke a few significant runs to log 86 yards on 21 carries. He also had 5 receptions for 76 yards on the day.

– The Vikings wouldn’t have been in position to win Sunday’s game without DE Jared Allen. He had 5 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. The fumble recovery came on Carolina’s first offensive play of the game, as LB E.J. Henderson pressured Carolina QB Cam Newton and forced him to fumble; Allen was there to pounce on the fumble. Two plays later, Percy Harvin pranced in on a 10-yard TD run to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead. Allen’s sack and forced fumble is the play that preceded Peterson’s TD reception at the end of the 1st half; the play was a huge swing for the Vikings because Carolina looked to be driving to try and tack on points late in the 2nd quarter. But the turnover and subsequent Peterson TD changed momentum in the game and knotted the score at 14, instead of the Panthers taking a 21-7 or 17-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

– Ponder must be acknowledged for taking another step forward in his development. He was 18 of 28 for 236 yards and 1 TD, but more importantly he had 0 turnovers and once again looked the part of an NFL QB. The Vikings converted 50% of their 3rd-down plays and they picked up 13 first downs through the air. This marks a significant improvement for the Vikings in both of those categories and it will give Vikings coaches, players and fans even more confidence in their young QB. Another stat that should increase your confidence in Ponder is that, according to my quick calculations using the play-by-play, Ponder was 8 of 10 for 101 yards on 3rd downs.

– K Ryan Longwell won’t be completely satisfied with his performance on Sunday because he missed a 1st-quarter FG try that became an important factor in this week’s game. But he came through in the 4th quarter on a 31-yard try with just 2:43 to play, which gave the Vikings their 3-point winning margin. With that game-winning kick, Longwell is now the Vikings career leader in game-winning FGs with 10, surpassing the mark previously set by Fred Cox (9).

Those are just a few of the individual highlights, and there are many more we could and will go over in the next 48 hours or so. Everson Griffen continues to play well, the offensive line looked better in the 2nd half in the running game, the defense shored up their defense in the 2nd half, Chad Greenway led the club in tackles and his tied for 4th in the NFL in tackles, and Marcus Sherels returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to put the Vikings offense in great field position.

For now, though, let’s hear what you all thought of the game. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…


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Submit Your Monday Morning Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 4:45 pm

Adrian Peterson exploded for 162 yards of total offense and 2 TDs, Jared Allen extended his consecutive games with at least a .5 sack streak to 10, Ryan Longwell hit his 10th game-winning FG as a Viking and Christian Ponder earned his first win as a starting QB.

There is a lot to go over from Sunday’s game, and I’m sure you have a lot of questions and comments. So let’s hash it out in the Monday Morning Mailbag.

To submit a comment or question, send an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. You can also submit your comment or question in the comments section below this entry.

Remember to include your name and town on the comment/email. We can’t post every comment/question, but we’ll try to answer each question.


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Game Tied 14-14 At Halftime After Late Peterson TD

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 12:44 pm

The Carolina Panthers were driving late in the 2nd quarter in an attempt to build a 21-7 halftime lead, but Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson had other ideas. Allen got to Carolina QB Cam Newton for a strip-sack, allowing the Vikings to take possession inside Carolina territory.

A couple plays later, Ponder dumped off a pass to Peterson and #28 sprinted away from the Panthers defense for a 19-yard score. Peterson now had 3 career receiving TDs and Allen has at least a .5 sack in 10 consecutive games. Allen also recovered a fumble early in the 1st quarter that was forced by E.J. Henderson.

Christian Ponder is 8 of 12 for 135 yards with 1 TD. Percy Harvin has 3 carries for 16 yards and a TD. For Carolina, QB Cam Newton is 11 of 17 for 152 yards and 2 TDs. The Panthers are rushing the ball well against Minnesota, with 97 yards on 17 carries.

The game is tied 14-14 going into halftime.


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Sunday’s Inactives Give Several Vikings Youngsters A Look

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 9:35 am

The inactive list and several other circumstances leading up to today’s game will give several young Vikings players plenty of playing time. Let’s take a look at a few of them…

QB Christian Ponder – He’ll be making his 2nd consecutive start today after a good debut showing last week against the Green Bay Packers. Ponder will go head-to-head against another rookie QB in Cam Newton, who is far and away the NFL’s most sensational first-year player. Today marks the first time in franchise history that the Vikings and their opponent will both start rookies at QB.

WR Stephen Burton – When Bernard Berrian was released earlier in the week, it was Burton who was promoted to the active roster. Not only is he on the 53-man roster, he’s active today and it looks like he could get a look at kickoff returner with Lorenzo Booker among the inactives.

CBs Asher Allen, Brandon Burton and Marcus Sherels – These 3 youngsters will see significant action today with Antoine Winfield inactive (neck) and Chris Cook on a leave of absence from the team. This will be Burton’s 3rd game on the active roster, Allen will get the start opposite Cedric Griffin and Sherels will be on the field whenever the Vikings are in their nickel defense.


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Winfield Among Vikings Inactives For Today’s Game

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 30, 2011 – 9:29 am

CB Antoine Winfield (neck) will be inactive for today’s game against the Panthers.  He suffered the injury during the Oct. 2 game in Kansas City and has yet to play in a game since, meaning this will be the fourth game in a row he’s inactive.

Here is the full list of inactives for today’s game: CB Antoine Winfield, RB / KR Lorenzo Booker, LB Xavier Adibi, G Anthony Herrera, OL DeMarcus Love, and DE D’Aundre Reed.

We’ll have the Panthers inatives shortly.


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Vikings Arrive At Bank Of America Stadium

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 9:01 am

The Vikings have arrived at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for their showdown with rookie sensation Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. We have moderate temperatures, little wind and lots of sun, so it should be great football weather today.

Game time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. local time – 12:00 p.m. CT – and vikings.com will be your place for continuous coverage before, during and after today’s game. We’ll have the inactives for you at 10:30 a.m. CT, several more updates before kickoff, Mr. Hippe’s Weather report right at kickoff and then the live chat during the game. After the game, you can watch all Vikings post-game press conferences live on vikings.com.

As for the game, despite subpar records by both teams, we’ll have plenty of star power on the field. Carolina features Newton, the NFL’s leading WR in Steve Smith and a nice tandem at RB with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Vikings have a great RB of their own in Adrian Peterson, who leads the NFL in rushing yards and TDs, plus a rookie QB looking to make a name for himself in Christian Ponder. Throw in guys such as Percy Harvin and Jared Allen, and you can see the star power in this contest.

Hopefully they all shine today, and the Vikings shine brighter. You can catch all the action on the Vikings Radio Network, where Paul Allen will handle play-by-play duties. And don’t forget to check out our live chat, which will begin right before kickoff.


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CaringBridge Teams With Vikings For New Website Style

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 27, 2011 – 3:40 pm

The following is a press release from CaringBridge:

CaringBridge, a Minnesota-based nonprofit providing personal websites that connect family and friends during a health challenge, has partnered with the Minnesota Vikings to add a Minnesota Vikings website style to its robust style library through a generous in-kind gift of their logo and intellectual property. Now Vikings fans who are sharing their health journey on CaringBridge can show their purple pride by selecting the Minnesota Vikings website style.

“We’re excited to team up with the Vikings to uplift fans who are facing a health journey,” said Sona Mehring, founder and CEO of CaringBridge. “Being able to create an individual, unique experience on their CaringBridge site is very important to our users and we continue to expand our options for personalization.”

“We are honored to know Vikings fans will have an opportunity to create a Vikings-themed page for their CaringBridge site,” said Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley. “The Vikings are an important part of many people’s lives. If we can lift someone’s spirits in any way, we want to do that.”

Personal CaringBridge websites save time and emotional energy by centralizing communication during situations such as cancer, premature birth and serious injury. Authors add health updates and photos to share their story while visitors leave messages of love, hope and compassion in the guestbook.

Since CaringBridge was founded in 1997, more than 290,000 CaringBridge websites have been created. Each day over half-a-million people connect through CaringBridge to give their support to loved ones.

About CaringBridge
CaringBridge provides free websites that connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends. Its mission is to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier. The free service is made possible by the generosity of donors. For more information, visit www.CaringBridge.org.


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Erin Henderson Launches Foundation 50 in Support of Sickle Cell Research

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 27, 2011 – 8:00 am

Erin Henderson is an emerging contributor on the Vikings defense, as his ascension from an undrafted free agent to a starting linebacker continues this season. Henderson’s contributions to the Vikings on the field are matched by his passion for helping others off the field, too.

Henderson launched his foundation – “Foundation 50″ – earlier this year with the goal of spreading awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD) and raising funds to support research programs and ultimately find a cure.  Foundation 50’s signature event this year will occur on Halloween, and you have an opportunity to participate.

This Halloween Henderson is offering Twin Citians a tasteful alternative to vampires and goblins with his “Out for Blood” fundraising event. The “Out for Blood” event will not only serve as the foundation’s signature fundraising event, but also educate attendees on how they can play a role in helping those who suffer from SCD through donating blood.

“Sickle cell disease affects millions of people around the world and has been prevalent in the African American community,” Henderson said. “I’m incredibly fortunate that football has given me a platform to build awareness for this disease and hope others in the Twin Cities will join me and my teammates on Halloween to help raise money to help fight for Sickle Cell Disease.”

The “Out for Blood” event, slated for 6-9 p.m. on Monday, October 31 at Sopranos Italian Kitchen in St. Louis Park, will feature great food from Sopranos’ executive chef, wine pairings from the restaurant’s extensive wine list and other local wineries, and unique interaction with Vikings players and coaches. The evening will also include a short program and silent auction, with proceeds benefiting Henderson’s Foundation 50.

Tickets for the event begin at $100 for an individual, with sponsorship packages including event tickets, autographed merchandise, recognition in the program and other benefits beginning at $1,200.

More On Foundation 50
Henderson’s Foundation 50 works to build awareness and find a cure for SCD through innovative programming, with a special emphasis on children and families affected by the disease. Support for Henderson’s efforts has been provided through partnerships with the University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital, Memorial Blood Centers, the Viking’s Children’s Fund, Sickle Cell Disease Advocates of Minnesota and Farmer Hat Productions.


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