There are many reasons why the Vikings were able to construct the most successful single-season turnaround in franchise history this season, going from 3 wins in 2011 to 10 wins in 2012. A 4-0 record over the final quarter of the regular season was a big reason, and that strong finish would not have been realized without the effots of Adrian Peterson and Blair Walsh.
The NFL put the pieces together quite well today, naming Peterson as the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for December and naming Walsh as the Special Teams Player of the Month for December.
During the month of December, Peterson led the League with 135 carries and had an NFL record for rushing yards in a month with 861. He was also tied for 3rd with 5 rushing TDs. The 6th-year player out of Oklahoma eclipsed the 200-yard mark 2 times while setting a new career long rush of 82 yards on 2 separate occasions during the month. Remarkably, this is the first time Peterson has won a player of the month award. He is the first Viking to receive the offensive award since Brett Favre in November of 2009. Along with this honor, Peterson has been named the NFC Player of the Week 2 times in 2012, Week 7 and Week 14.
Walsh, a rookie out of Georgia who was named to the Pro Bowl, connected on 11 of 12 field goals (91.7%) and was a perfect 14 of 14 on PATs over the month of December. His FGs included a perfect 5 of 5 from 50+ yards, as he set an NFL single-season record in 2012 with 10 field goals from that range. Walsh kicked the Vikings into the playoffs in last week’s win over Green Bay, converting a 29-yard attempt as time expired. His 3 field goals from 50+ at St. Louis on 12/16/12 also set a new single-game NFL record. Walsh tied a team-record 56-yard field goal against the Houston Texans on 12/23/12. He also finished tied for 2nd in the NFC with 12 kickoff touchbacks in the month of December. His 47 points over the month ranks 3rd in the NFL.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Blair Walsh
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The performance of young players on the roster has been a vital part of the Vikings success in 2012. Rookies Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh have been outstanding performers week-in and week-out. Everson Griffen registered a career-high 8.0 sacks this season. Kyle Rudolph was 2nd among all NFL TEs with 9 TDs. Christian Ponder played his best game in the season’s biggest moment.
But now, with a postseason matchup against Green Bay just two days away, a few Vikings veterans are stepping up to the plate to provide leadership and perspective to the entire team.
Jared Allen, who had a sack of Aaron Rodgers in last week’s win and has registered 16.0 sacks in 11 games against the Packers, is one of the leaders equipped to set the postseason tone. Since arriving in Minnesota via trade in 2008, Allen has helped the Vikings reach the playoffs 3 times in 5 seasons. In that time, he has been one of the team’s most productive players as well. His 12.0-sack season in 2012 gives him 6 straight seasons of 10+ sacks, and 5 of those seasons have come as a Viking. Only one player (DeMarcus Ware – 77.5) has more sacks than Allen’s 74.0 since 2008, and no NFL player has more sacks than Allen’s 117.0 since he entered the League in 2004.
On Wednesday while meeting with reporters, Allen was asked what his memories were of the last time he appeared in a postseason game – the NFC Championship Game following the 2009 season.
“I thought I was going to the Super Bowl, then that got ripped away from us. So, bad memories I guess, because we lost, but still it’s fun, that will always be a game that I cherish,” Allen acknowledged. “It helps you realize how important this opportunity is. I think that is what we have been trying to convey to the guys that haven’t been to the playoffs, the young guys on the team, is that this opportunity doesn’t come around often.
“This is my ninth year in the league and this is I think my fourth playoff appearance, so the odds of getting back aren’t certain and they aren’t always skewed in the positive direction. So guys take advantage of this opportunity. The cool thing about the playoffs is that once you get in anything can happen. You see it happen all of the time, teams make runs and end up winning the Super Bowl.”
Adrian Peterson offered a similar message when asked about the loss in the NFC title game.
“Well, it definitely wasn’t good memories,” Peterson said. “One game away from the Super Bowl and you lose, so I don’t ever want to have to relive that feeling again.”
Asked if he thought it would take this long to make a return to the postseason, Peterson was candid.
“I didn’t at all,” he said. “That’s why you really can’t take things for granted because making it to the post-season is extremely hard.”
Peterson is in the prime of his career. He’s not a young buck anymore, but he hasn’t been around as long as some of his senior teammates such as Allen, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield. So his perspective is an interesting one when it comes to assessing whether or not this team’s leadership is effective in sending the right message.
“The veteran guys have always been leaders, but this year it’s been more vocal,” Peterson explained. “Having a lot of young guys here that can play ball, and the guys that I call veterans, Antoine and Kevin and Jared, those guys are able to see that. In tough times they came up and called the team together and shared their thoughts. I’m sure they know that their time is starting to come to an end, they know how hard it is to get to the post-season so they want to take advantage of that opportunity. So yeah, I’ve seen a lot of guys step up and lead in different ways this year.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams
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Vikings K Blair Walsh has been named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his Week 17 performance against the Green Bay Packers. Walsh sent the Vikings into the playoffs with a 29-yard FG as time expired, and he also connected on FGs of 54 and 37 yards in the 37-34 win. This was Walsh’s second game-winning kick of the 2012 season (Week 1 vs. Jacksonville).
Walsh has won this award 3 times and becomes the first rookie to do so since Devin Hester in 2006. Until now, no Vikings rookie has ever won the Player of the Week Award 3 times in one season (A. Peterson – 2007, R. Moss – 1998). The Pro Bowl kicker was honored after his Week 1 performance against Jacksonville and his Week 15 showing in St. Louis.
The Georgia product was 10-10 on FGs of 50+ yards this season, a NFL record. He led the NFL in FGs with 35 and was 4th in scoring with 141 points. His 92.1 FG percentage is the best in NFL history by a rookie kicker. Walsh was 35-38 on the season and was 3rd in the NFL with 53 touchbacks.
Other Vikings kickers to win the award are: Fuad Reveiz (2x), Gary Anderson (4x), Eddie Murray and Ryan Longwell (2x).
Tags: Blair Walsh
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