This Day In Vikings History: Miracle At The Met

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 14, 2012 – 11:51 am

It was 32 years ago today – December 14, 1980 – when the Vikings pulled off what is perhaps one of the great finishes in NFL history and is most certainly one of the best finishes in franchise history. You know an event has a significant place in history when it’s given a nickname that forever lives in lore, and that’s what happened with the Vikings victory.

Miracle at the Met is the nickname, and it describes an improbable comeback by the Vikings over the Cleveland Browns to capture a division championship.

Trailing 23-22 with 14 seconds to play in the game, legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant called for a hook-and-ladder play, which was executed to perfection and resulted in RB Ted Brown advancing the ball to the Cleveland 46. On the next snap, with 5 seconds remaining, QB Tommy Kramer dropped back and launched pass down the right sideline. The pass was tipped and then caught by Ahmad Rashad in the end zone, giving the Vikings the win and the NFC Central Division title.

Current Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell made a key play for the Vikings defense on the series prior to the game-winning drive, tackling a Browns offensive player just short of the 1st down marker on 3rd and 9, resulting in the Cleveland punt that gave the Vikings possession at the 20 with just 14 seconds to play.

The embedded video clip above will help you relive the moment – a moment that will live forever in Vikings and NFL history, and will always be known as the Miracle at the Met.

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Williams Wall 2.0? Mock 1.0 For ESPN’s McShay

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 14, 2012 – 10:57 am

As it goes for NFL-related websites, there aren’t many events that generate more buzz, traffic and discussion than the NFL draft. So it’s never really too early to start talking about the upcoming draft. With that said, let’s take a brief break from Vikings-Rams talk to look more than 4 months ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his initial mock draft. As we know, mock drafts are an inexact science even in their best form. So to try and conduct a mock draft before the season is over, before we know who will enter the draft and before we even know where each team will select in the 1st round is obviously premature. But it’s still fun.

McShay notes that defensive linemen have dominated his draft board all year and that the trend continued in his first mock draft. In fact, 14 DEs and DTs are included in this first projection. By virtue of their 7-6 record, the Vikings select 18th overall in McShay’s first mock draft, and they contribute to the DL-heavy trend.

With the 18th overall pick, McShay projects the Vikings to select University of North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams. Here’s what he says about Williams…

“Williams is the best player available here by a long shot. He has good speed and range, power at the point of attack, quick hands and solid instincts. The Vikings also could go with massive Georgia DT Johnathan Jenkins to play alongside the aging Kevin Williams, but Jenkins was not as consistently dominant this season and doesn’t present nearly as much value.”

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The Rams Like To Feed Their Beast, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 14, 2012 – 6:59 am

It’s not been often when Rams RB Steven Jackson has gone under the radar in his life. He’s been a standout performer on the football field at every level of play, and he already ranks as the leading rusher in Rams franchise history.

But under the radar is exactly where Jackson has been in the days leading up to this weekend’s Vikings-Rams showdown. The RB de jour is of course Adrian Peterson, as he pursues the 2,000-yard mark and has set his sights on topping another Rams RB – Eric Dickerson and his single-season rushing record. And when the conversation has centered on the Rams, the focus is typically on their 2nd-ranked pass rush or on their QB, former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford.

Make no mistake, though, if the Vikings aren’t buttoned up defensively on Sunday, it will be hard to not notice Jackson. He possesses a combination of power and speed that allows him to be a north-south runner, but that also allows him to hit another gear in the open field to break away.

Jackson has seen a lot in his 9 NFL seasons with the Rams, and Nick Wagoner of the team’s website details the story nicely in this piece. Perhaps most unusual is the fact that, as Wagoner notes, his current head coach – Jeff Fisher – is the 6th different head coach he’s had. That much turnover in a coaching staff is not good for a player or a franchise. But what is good is the fact that it appears Fisher is the coach that has best understood how to capitalize on Jackson’s ability. Fisher is a defensive-minded head coach, and as is often the case with that type of head coach, the power running game is en vogue on offense.

Right out of the gates, it looked like Fisher was going to lean heavily on Jackson and a power ground game. Jackson had 25 touches in the season opener, an illustration that the 6-2, 240-pound beast was the perfect runner for Fisher’s team. But a groin injury suffered in Week 2 slowed Jackson, and the team and player had to take a different approach going forward – incorporating youngster Daryl Richardson into the mix to ease the burden and Jackson and keep him fresh for later in the season.

Well, later in the season is here, and Jackson is in mid-season form. He averaged just 13.5 touches per game from Week 2 through the team’s Week 9 bye. Since the bye, though, Jackson has been the team’s workhorse. He carried the ball 29 times for 101 yards and 1 TD in the team’s Week 10 tie with San Francisco, and in the 3 games following the bye he ripped off 321 yards, a total just 82 yards less than what he posted in the first 8 games of the season combined. In the 6 games since the bye, Jackson is averaging 23.2 touches per game and he has a pair of 100-yard rushing games.

“We’ve done a pretty good job getting him the carries, that’s the important thing is getting him the opportunities,” Fisher said. “And plus, I think, he’s fresher than most backs at this time of the year, particularly because of the way we kind of managed the reps early in the season.”

The man responsible for divvying out the reps seems intent to continue feeding the beast.

“This time of year you kind of go and you go with the hot hand,” Rams Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “He has that. We certainly have plays for the other guys, but when he’s running the way he’s running it’s hard to take him off the field. The guy’s just a workhorse. He’s playing at a really high level. He’s doing so much for us and we’re thrilled we have him.”

Jackson needs 164 yards to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the 8th consecutive season, a feat matched by only 6 players in NFL history. He also is within just 71 yards of becoming the 27th player in league history to rush for 10,000 yards. For the Vikings to win on Sunday, they’re likely going to have to prevent Jackson from reaching either milestone.

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