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.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Joe Berger, Ryan Longwell, Toby Gerhart
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