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“Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron” Is A Must-Watch

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2012 – 7:29 am

New to Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) programming this year is a documentary-style show called Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron. The show is off to a great start and will keep rolling throughout the season, so if you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time to catch up.

The show focuses on the rare inside access that a team network can provide, giving fans a true inside look at their favorite team and favorite players. Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron uses voice narration as well as the topic interview subjects to tell each story, rather than a traditional show “host.” The show followed rookie Matt Kalil’s arrival to the Vikings and has also chronicled Adrian Peterson’s rehab and return from injury.

Vikings: Beyond the Gridiron is co-produced by VEN and Elite Edge Productions, and airs Saturdays on KARE 11 and Sundays on FSN. Click here to see a schedule of when exactly each episode will air.

Below we’ve included a 5-part series that chronicles the journey Vikings draft picks Audie Cole and Trevor Guyton took as they tried to make the Vikings roster. From spare time off the field, to hard work on the field, to celebrating after a big-time performance, this 5-part series gives you an all-access look at what life is like for rookies in the NFL.


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Ponder Sharp On 1st, 2nd Down In Week 1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2012 – 6:22 am

Vikings QB Christian Ponder is by all accounts a reasonable guy. He doesn’t point fingers at coaches or teammates, he is cordial to the media and he is friendly to the fans. But this past offseason, Ponder set a goal for himself that many thought was unreasonable – completing 75% of his passes on 1st and 2nd down this season.

“We want 75 percent completions on first and second downs,” Ponder said. “That’s the number we’re shooting for. Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-long situations a year ago, and we want to get out of that.”

Being efficient and 1st and 2nd down to avoid 3rd-and-long situations is certainly reasonable. The unreasonable part, for many, comes at the suggestion of a 75% completion rate on 1st and 2nd down. Consider, Drew Brees set an NFL record for overall completion percentage at 71.2% last year, and he was 73.1% on 1st down and 70.4% on 2nd down. So if the guy who set an NFL record for overall completion percent wasn’t able to attain the goal, is it realistic for Ponder to do it in his first full year as a starter? Some may say no, but what’s the point of setting a goal if that goal isn’t ambitious?

It’s only one week, so it’s wise to temper the enthusiasm somewhat. But Ponder attained his goal in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. On 1st and 2nd down, Ponder was 17 of 20 (85%) for 218 yards. The numbers break down to 6 of 8 for 63 yards in the 1st half and 11 of 12 for 155 yards in the 2nd half. Ponder was sacked twice (both in the 2nd half), fumbled once, and hit 6 different receivers on his 1st and 2nd down passes (Aromashodu, Asiata, Harvin, Jenkins, Peterson, Rudolph). The Vikings average yards-to-go on 3rd down was 6.4.

The Vikings were not able to convert efficiently on 3rd downs against the Jaguars – they were just 2 of 10 – but the good news is that it wasn’t because of inefficiency in the passing game on 1st and 2nd down. The next step in this process is to continue the success on 1st and 2nd down passing, and to follow that up with better execution on 3rd downs.


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Week 1 NFC North Roundup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2012 – 5:30 am

The NFL is off and running in 2012, kicking off its season last Wednesday night with a Cowboys-Giants showdown and concluding Week 1 with a Monday Night Football double header on ESPN featuring Cincinnati at Baltimore and then San Diego at Oakland. The action was fast and furious, with five teams scoring 40+ points, nine of 16 games being decided by one score or less, one game going into overtime.

The action in the NFC North was representative of what happened in the NFL. One team – the Chicago Bears – scored 41 points on the way to a 20-point win, another team – the Vikings – won in overtime and then both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers played in games decided by one score or less.

As you know by now, the Vikings opened the season with a 26-23 overtime win. Sunday marked the first time the Vikings opened a season at home since 2007, and it also marked the first time they’ve started a season with a win since 2009. Here’s a quick look at the three other NFC North games from Week 1…

Bears Blitz Colts At Soldier Field, Win 41-21
For the Bears, the Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall debut lived up to the hype. For the Colts, rookie QB Andrew Luck’s debut left much to be desired. Cutler was 21 of 35 for 333 yards with 2 TDs, and Marshall was on the receiving end for 9 of those completions, 119 of those yards and 1 of those TDs. Cutler overcame an early INT returned for TD to register an impressive performance and pull away from the visiting Colts with ease. At one point, the Bears led 34-14. Luck threw for 300 yards on the day and has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL, no doubt. But Sunday was not his day. Luckily for him, he gets to play again in a few days. The Colts host the Vikings in their home opener on Sunday.

Lions Score Late To Avoid Upset By Rams
The Rams appear to be a much-improved team, and they nearly illustrated that point with an upset of the Lions at Ford Field on opening day. But a late 5-yard TD pass from QB Matthew Stafford to RB Kevin Smith allowed the Lions to prevail by a 27-23 count over the feisty Rams, a team that the Vikings will visit in December. Stafford threw 48 passes on the day, completing 32 of them for 355 yards and 1 TD. He did have 3 INTs, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Lions. WR Calvin Johnson was held scoreless, but he still made a difference with 6 receptions for 111 yards.

Packers Drop Opener To 49ers 30-22
In what was one of opening day’s premier matchups, the San Francisco 49ers marched into Lambeau Field and took control early on the way to a 30-22 win. The 49ers are many NFL observers’ pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and they showed exactly why on Sunday. Randy Moss – yes, that Randy Moss – scored a TD and David Akers converted a 63-yard – yes, a 63-yard – FG attempt along the way, while QB Alex Smith led an efficient offensive attack against a Packers defense that just couldn’t cover all the leaks in time. It was an impressive outing by the 49ers, and if they play like that the rest of the way they’ll be hard to beat. Don’t count the Packers out, either. QB Aaron Rodgers was sharp, going 30 of 44 for 303 yards with 2 TDs, and play-making LB Clay Matthews got to Smith for 2.5 sacks. So these are the same ‘ol Packers, they just didn’t have enough on Sunday.


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Walsh A Finalist For Pepsi MAX NFL Rookie Of The Week Honors

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2012 – 5:22 am

For his productive and clutch performance on Sunday, Vikings K Blair Walsh has been named a finalist for Pepsi MAX NFL Rookie of the Week honors, the NFL announced on Tuesday. Walsh joins New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones, NY Jets WR Stephen Hill, Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin and Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III as finalists for the award.

In his first career game, Walsh was a perfect 4 for 4 from FG range, including a 55-yarder as time expired in the 4th quarter to send the game to overtime and a 38-yarder in overtime to give the Vikings a lead and, ultimately, a victory. Walsh was also perfect on his PATs and he notched 3 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Vikings fans can vote for Walsh  by going to NFL.com/rookies beginning Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. CT. and ending on Friday at 2:00 p.m. CT. The Pepsi MAX NFL Rookie of the Week will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.

After the regular season, five players will be nominated for Pepsi MAX NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Fans can vote for the winner on NFL.com/rookies throughout the month of January. The winner will be announced during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

This is Pepsi’s eleventh year as the official soft drink sponsor of the NFL and the eleventh year that Pepsi will present the NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL Rookie of the Year awards.


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