Vikings Pro Bowlers React To Honor

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 6:16 pm

“When you work so hard at your craft, it’s great to be recognized by your peers for that effort. This time around it’s extra special because I’ve had to battle through some injuries. But while the personal honors are great, the real reason we play this game is to win a championship, so I’m even more proud of the guys in the locker room who have put in the time and the effort to get to where we are as a team.

“This honor means so much to me. Just to be in the NFL means a lot to me, but to be voted to the Pro Bowl by your peers, the coaches and the fans, that is something that is always in the back of your mind as a player, but to have it come true means so much. I felt like it was something I could achieve if I was able to land in the right spot and Minnesota has been that place for me. I knew when I came here to visit as a free agent that the team was committed to running the football and that was not going to change. When you have a back like Adrian Peterson, running the ball is going to be your identity. I’m just happy I’ve been able to contribute to the team this year and Adrian’s season.”

“This is a blessing. It’s a great achievement to be honored by the guys you play against every week. It just goes to show when you put your faith in God and you put in the work, you can accomplish great things. I’m also thankful that Jerome was selected, but I’m disappointed that none of the guys up front were chosen. Those guys have contributed so much to the team’s success and to my success; they are all Pro Bowlers to me.”

“As soon as I was drafted it was a goal for me to achieve to the highest level. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by great people, from Coach Mike Priefer to Chris Kluwe and Cullen Loeffler. They’ve made my transition into the NFL and with Minnesota so smooth. I got the news this afternoon from Coach Priefer, which was appropriate because he put a lot on the line when the Vikings drafted me and I owe him so much for the season that we’ve had. It’s been an unbelievable year and I hope that it’s not done for a long while yet.”

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Peterson-Felton Combo Pack Pro Bowl Punch

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 6:15 pm

Adrian Peterson has been named to his 5th Pro Bowl, not surprising considering he’s chasing the 2,000-yard mark as well as Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105. What’s even better news is that his lead blocker – FB Jerome Felton – is also bound for the NFL’s annual all-star game.

Those who’ve watched Vikings football this season know the impact Felton has had in 2012. Yes, Peterson was a dominant, multi-time Pro Bowler before Felton’s arrival in Minnesota. But prior to 2012, Peterson’s season-high for rushing yardage was 1,760 in 2008. Through 15 games this season, Peterson has 1,898 rushing yards and ranks in a tie for 2nd with 11 rushing TDs. The Vikings rank 3rd in the NFL in rushing and they rank 1st in yards per carry.

How much do we credit Felton for the Vikings success on the ground and, specifically, for Peterson’s season-high and potentially historic production this year? It’s hard to say, but it’s definitely more than “none.” Fans and opposing players and coaches most certainly agree, as Felton was selected to appear in the first Pro Bowl of his career.

Asked earlier in the season about his lead blocker and fullback, Peterson, a player who many believe would rather not run behind a fullback, couldn’t have been more complimentary of his teammate.

“He’s playing outstanding,” Peterson said. “He’s doing a great job blocking, opening things up for me. We communicate, we’re on the same page with different schemes we use to attack in the running game. He’s shown that he’s reliable to get the job done.

“Definitely should be a Pro Bowler. You just sit back and watch the film on him, you’ll see him blowing up guys. He’s got good hands, making big receptions, leading me to the end zone. He’s made a lot of plays.”

He hasn’t made a lot of Pro Bowls. But now he has one to his credit. And it’s well-deserved.

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Four Vikings Receive Pro Bowl Nods

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 6:05 pm

The results are in, and 4 Vikings have been named Pro Bowlers.

This year’s Vikings Pro Bowlers are:

DE Jared Allen – For the 5th time as a Viking (in as many seasons) and for the 7th time in his career, Allen has double-digit sacks. Coming off a 22.0-sack season in 2011, almost any number would represent a decrease this season. But Allen has come back from his near-record sack total a season ago to post another strong total in 2012 with 11.0 through 15 games. Allen has 3 multi-sack games this season and he’s registered a sack in 8 of the team’s 15 games, including 2.0 sacks in last week’s win over the Houston Texans. This will be the 5th Pro Bowl of Allen’s career.

FB Jerome Felton – It can be hard to measure a FB’s impact on an offense. But if you’ve watched Vikings football this season, it’s not been hard to notice how well Felton is playing as a lead blocker for Adrian Peterson. You’ll read more about Peterson below, and keep in mind that Felton is a big part of that success. The Vikings rank 3rd in rushing this season and 1st in yards per carry. Also, the Vikings 2,417 rushing yards as a team, the Vikings rank 3rd in franchise history and are 217 rushing yards away from setting the franchise record (2,634 – 2007).

RB Adrian Peterson: He leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,898) and scrimmage yards (2,023). He’s also tied for 2nd in rushing TDs with 11. Peterson is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, has tied Barry Sanders for 50-yard runs in a season with 7, is one 150-yard game shy of the NFL record and is 102 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark and 208 yards shy from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105. This is Peterson’s 5th Pro Bowl appearance.

K Blair Walsh – He’s been the NFL’s best kicker this season, going 32 of 55 (94.1%) on FGs this season, including a perfect 9 of 9 from 50+. His 9 FGs from 50+ yards are a team and NFL single-season record. He’s 3 FGs shy of tying Gary Anderson’s team record for FGs in a season, and he’s already set a new rookie scoring record (128) and a single-season record for touchbacks (49).

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Ponder’s Play Improving As Rematch With Packers Looms

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 4:01 pm

The flight to and from Green Bay is the shortest trip of every season for the Vikings. But, given how things unfolded in Week 13, you wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s trip home from Green Bay felt like the longest of the season for Christian Ponder and the Vikings.

The Vikings had their way with Green Bay’s defense as Adrian Peterson pranced around Lambeau Field to the tune of 210 yards through three quarters. The Vikings defense was playing well, too, holding Green Bay’s high-powered offense to just 10 points through halftime and much of the 3rd quarter.

But it was a costly interception thrown by Ponder early in the 3rd quarter that turned out to be the tipping point. Peterson ripped off a 48-yard run on the first play of the 2nd half, setting up the Vikings with a 1st and 10 from the Green Bay 12. The Vikings were poised to go up 21-10 early in the 2nd half, and given the way the Vikings were running the ball and playing defense, that lead would likely have been insurmountable for the Packers.

Two plays after the 48-yard Peterson run, though, Ponder threw an interception that served as a turning point for the game. Rather than being up 21-10, the Vikings lead was cut from 14-10 to 14-13, and Green Bay eventually pulled away for a 23-14 win.

The good news, though, is that Ponder’s play has steadily improved since that game. The Vikings haven’t lost since, and Ponder has been an important part of each win. Against Chicago the next week, he converted several critical 3rd-down throws and in wins over the St. Louis Rams and Houston Texans Ponder was able to capitalize on the opposing defense’s commitment to stopping Peterson.

“A lot of it has to do with Christian just growing as a quarterback,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He’s gone through some challenges over the course of this season, and he responded extremely well over the last few weeks.

“It was a tough day in a lot of ways in our first game against Green Bay. He bounced back from that with a very efficient game against Chicago, and he’s continued that progression right on through. We worked on some things from that Green Bay game that we wanted to improve on, and we’ve seen some improvement in his play.”

Frazier didn’t stop there in analyzing why Ponder has improved over the last three weeks. He also credited the guys playing around Ponder for their improved play as well.

“It’s just a combination of what our coaches are doing with him and what he’s doing,” Frazier said. “Also, the guys around him. It’s a collective effort. We’ve got a lot of other guys…our receivers are doing a better job in some of the things they’re doing. Christian obviously is doing a better job. Our pass pro (protection) is a little bit better. And what we’re doing schematically has helped us as well.”

Asked if Sunday’s rematch against the Packers would be important in determining where Ponder stands in the organization as the quarterback of the future, Frazier deflected the matter and instead turned the focus to the current team and its objectives.

“The best thing he can do is a lead us to a win,” Frazier said. “That would be huge for our football team. Just do a great job at the quarterback position like he’s done over the last few weeks, and for the most part through the season. Lead us to victory. That would be terrific.

“That being said, we have to have a lot of guys playing well on Sunday against a very good football team. Twelve straight wins in our division, eleven wins this season, they’re a good team. So we need not only Christian playing well, but a lot of other people playing well also.”

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Vikings Urge Fans To Be Aware Of Counterfeit Tickets

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 3:04 pm

Due to the highly-anticipated, sold-out final regular season game against the Green Bay Packers this Sunday, the Vikings are reminding fans to be aware of the large number of stolen and counterfeit tickets sold to Vikings games and other high-profile events around the country each year. These tickets are sold over the Internet and by ticket sellers near the stadium on game day.

Because of the Vikings ticket-scanning process, if a fan purchases a counterfeit ticket, he/she may not be able to access the stadium and could be subject to investigation. If a person is already in the stadium and is caught in possession of a fraudulent ticket, he/she will be ejected and could be subject to arrest.

The Vikings are reminding fans that the only authorized outlets for Vikings football tickets are the Vikings Ticket Office, Ticketmaster and the NFL TicketExchange. Purchasing tickets from other sources are done at the buyer’s own risk and ticket selling on Mall of America Field property is illegal.

The Vikings are offering fans the following tips:

On Game Day:
— Always check with the Vikings Ticket Office or Mall of America Field ticket booths to see if tickets are available. Often times the visiting team may return tickets on the day of the game.
— Never buy an Eticket from anyone on the street. If you buy an Eticket outside the stadium you run the risk that it is fake.
— The Vikings have three types of authorized ticket stock: Vikings season and single-game ticket stock plus Ticketmaster ticket stock. The counterfeiters have tried to copy all three types of ticket stock. If you are buying tickets on the street: Take your time. Scrutinize the tickets closely for any inaccuracies or alterations, and cross-check the seat assignment and prices with a stadium map printed from before you buy; Check the back of the ticket to see if it appears to have been photo copied. Also, all Vikings single ticket stock is numbered in sequential order on the back of the ticket. The number is printed three times and is in red; Very few Vikings tickets are sold on Ticketmaster ticket stock. If you are buying tickets on the street and they are Ticketmaster stock they are most likely counterfeit.

Buying Tickets Online:
Only the Vikings ticket office, Ticketmaster and the NFL TicketExchange can guarantee the ticket you purchase online will be valid to attend the event.
— When buying from a merchant, always look for the BBB OnLine seal. The logo will tell you that you’re dealing with a company that has a good reputation for satisfying customers and a secure web site for processing your payment.
— When buying from an individual through an online exchange don’t be lured away from the web site by the seller. Even if you met the seller on the exchange web site, the company may not guarantee any lost money if a transaction occurs outside their domain.
— If you buy tickets through an online auction, choose a seller with a long, continuous history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure they have recently bought or sold other items.
— Pay with a credit card or through PayPal, which offer some protection and potential reimbursement. Never pay with a cashier’s check or wire money to a seller; you’ll have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive.
— Many sellers will include pictures of the tickets with their posts on auction sites or bulletin boards. Scalpers near the venue will have the tickets themselves. Scrutinize the tickets closely for any inaccuracies or alterations, and cross-check the seat assignment with a stadium map printed from before you buy.

The Vikings urge all fans to use common sense, understand the risks, and use these tips to minimize the potential loss if they intend to go ahead and purchase tickets from an unauthorized seller.

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Frazier Cites Senior Bowl Experience As Turning Point For Coaching Staff

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 12:11 pm

Evaluating the performances of coaches can be tricky. When a team is losing, it’s easy to criticize game plans and second-guess playcalling. When a team is winning, all of a sudden the game plans look brilliant and the playcalling is perfect. It just goes with the territory of being a coach, in any sport and at every level.

The Vikings have won their last three games, and externally the coaches are receiving a lot of praise. Deservedly so, too, given how dominant the defense has been and how efficient the offense has become. In reflecting on his staff’s performance of late, though, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier doesn’t look at the three-game winning streak. He goes as far back as last February, when the Vikings staff was responsible for coaching the North team.

“When I look back at our experience at the Senior Bowl, as a staff, that was a big deal for us as far as camaraderie and coming together,” Frazier explained. “We didn’t have that rookie camp the year before where we could come together as a staff and work through some things. We had to hit the ground running. But that experience at the Senior Bowl was good for our coaching staff.”

Both Frazier and General Manager Rick Spielman have in the past cited the team’s experience at the Senior Bowl as reasons for feeling so strongly about players such as Harrison Smith and Audie Cole. On Wednesday, though, Frazier talked about how the Senior Bowl experience was also important from a synergy standpoint for the coaching staff.

“Not only what we were able to find out personnel-wise about college players, but that time together that we had, we kind of built on that over the offseason,” Frazier said. “By the time our players got into the building, we were concrete on what we needed to get done and how we wanted to get certain things taught. Having an offseason where we could spend some quality time together and not trying to figure out ‘Are we going to be playing football? Are we not going to be playing football? When are we going to be playing football?’ We could just concentrate on what happened in the past, what we need to fix, personnel-wise as well as scheme, and come together as a group where you can not only work together but trust one another. We’ve had that through an offseason and it’s paid dividends for us.”

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9 Vikings-Packers Storylines To Follow

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2012 – 8:22 am

It’s Vikings vs. Packers. It’s Week 17. And playoff implications are on the line. It won’t take much effort to drum up excitement for this game. The story will write itself most of the week and on Sunday, but we’ll still stick to our normal Wednesday routine and go over several Vikings-Packers storylines to watch during the week.

1. Major Playoff Implications On The Line
The Vikings can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over Green Bay on Sunday. It would be their first postseason appearance since 2009 and it would most likely setup a rematch against Green Bay next weekend at Lambeau Field. To do that, the Vikings will have to overcome the Packers best effort because they also have something to play for – a 1st-round bye. If Green Bay wins on Sunday, not only could they knock their border rivals from the playoff picture, they can also secure a spot in the Divisional round.

2. Historic Turnaround
With a win on Sunday the Vikings will notch their 10th victory of the season, which would represent a 7-win turnaround from their 3-13 campaign a season ago. That would be the team’s biggest increase in win totals from one season to the next in team history. From 1997 to 1998, the Vikings increased their win total by 6, going from 9-7 to 15-1.

3. Game Flexed To 3:25; FOX’s #1 Crew Aboard To Broadcast Game
With so much on the line Sunday, the NFL and FOX have decided to the game from a 12:00 CT kickoff to 3:25 p.m. In addition, FOX will send its top broadcast team to Minneapolis for the game, with Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline reporter) calling the action.

4. Adrian Peterson Chases History
Can he do it? That’s what everyone’s wondering as the final regular season game approaches and Vikings RB Adrian Peterson sits so close to history. Peterson is 102 yards from the 2,000-yard rushing mark and he’s 208 yards from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. It’s perhaps the NFL’s top individual story of 2012, with Peterson rushing towards history less than a year removed from a serious knee injury. All the accolades and team success also has Peterson neck-and-neck with Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning for MVP talk. If Peterson tops the 2,000-yard mark, surpasses or even approaches Dickerson’s mark and the Vikings win to clinch a playoff spot, I find it hard to make a case against Peterson for MVP honors.

5. Blair Walsh Chases History, Too
If not for Peterson’s pursuit of such revered records, one could make a solid argument for K Blair Walsh being the Vikings MVP. Walsh, a rookie selected in the 6th round last April, is 32 of 25 (91.4%) on FGs for the season, including a perfect 9 of 9 from 50+. His 9 FGs of 50+ yards is a team and NFL single-season record, his 49 touchbacks on the season rank 4th in the NFL and 1st in team history, he’s already set a new Vikings rookie scoring record, and he’s just 3 made FGs from tying the team record (Gary Anderson – 1998).

6. Injury Report – Who’s In, Who’s Out?
The Packers have dealt with injuries to key players all season, especially over the course of the last two months. Last week, the Packers were without TE Tom Crabtree, RBs Alex Green and James Starks, WR Jordy Nelson, DL CJ Wilson and Jerel Worthy and CB Charles Woodson. WR Greg Jennings has missed significant time this season, several offensive linemen have been in and out of the lineup and LB Clay Matthews missed time because of a groin injury. Now, though, Green Bay is getting healthier. All of the above-mentioned players will have a good shot to be in the lineup this Sunday.

Speaking of injuries to key players, the Vikings will be watching two defensive starters closely this week. DE Brian Robison (shoulder) and CB Antoine Winfield will be on the injury report. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier expressed confidence that Winfield will make it to Sunday, but was less sure about Robison. Also, Peterson has been dealing with an abdominal injury and will be monitored all week, but Frazier said after Sunday’s win in Houston that Peterson will play on Sunday.

7. Can Vikings Pass Rush Get To Aaron Rodgers
Everyone will surely point to pass rush as the key defensively for the Vikings. The Vikings defense has been in top form the past 2 weeks, shutting down the Houston Texans last week and stifling the St. Louis Rams the week prior. Slowing down Aaron Rodgers and Co. is an entirely different matter, however. In 10 games against the Packers, Vikings DE Jared Allen has 15.0 sacks and 4 passes defensed. Can Allen register one of his trademark games against Green Bay? Everson Griffen has a career-high 5.0 sacks this season. Can he add to his total? The Vikings have utilized more pressures (LBs) and blitzes (DBs) to pressure the passer the past 2 weeks. Will the Vikings continue that trend against Green Bay? All interesting questions this week.

8. Vikings Offensive Line Comes Off Dominant Performance vs. Houston
The Vikings have started the same 5 offensive linemen for all 15 games this season, and they are set to make it 16 straight games on Sunday against Green Bay. And if that group plays against Green Bay the way they played against Houston, the Vikings will be in great shape. Here are just a few of the notable accomplishments the Vikings OL registered against a well-regarded Texans defensive front last Sunday: 11 rushing 1st downs, the most Houston has allowed all season; 34:46 time of possession compared to just 25:14 for Houston; previous high for rushing yards allowed by Houston was 158, and the Vikings rushed for 174 yards; Vikings ran the ball 42 times and Houston’s previous high allowed was 33;  Vikings are now one of just three teams to register a rushing TD vs. Houston; just 1 sack allowed against a team that registered 3 per game coming into the contest.

9. Will Vikings Dome-Field Advantage Make A Difference?
The Vikings have traditionally had one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Last year, though, they were just 1-7 at home. The tides have quickly changed this year, as the Vikings boast a 6-1 record at home and are looking to make it 7-1 after Sunday. Frazier often mentions the Mall of America Field crowd as being a difference-maker in games, and if the Vikings win on Sunday you can be sure that a raucous home crowd will have been a factor.

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