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…
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder, Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 77 Comments »