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Bears Top Vikings 17-13 In 2011 Season Finale

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 1, 2012 – 4:31 pm

It will go down as a loss by a normal NFL score of 17-13, but the 2011 season finale between the Vikings and Chicago Bears at Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon was certainly not short on drama or excitement. Jim Kleinsasser, a truly great all-time Viking and 13-year veteran, played the final game of his career. And DE Jared Allen capped off the best season of his career by chasing history.

Kleinsasser, never one to embrace pomp and circumstance, went through the emotions of game day one more time, with many family members and friends right by his side the entire time. His last task of the day was to meet with reporters at a post-game press conference, where he spoke eloquently and with perspective about his great career with the Vikings, the love and support from his family and friends along the way, and the camaraderie he enjoyed with life in the NFL.

Allen, who entered Sunday’s game with 18.5 sacks, needed 2.5 to tie the Vikings single-season record (21.0 by Chris Doleman) and 4.5 to set a new NFL single-season record (Michael Strahan had 22.5 in the 2001 season). As he’s done all season, Allen delivered big-time for the Vikings. He chased QB Josh McCown around the field all day, finishing the afternoon with 3.5 sacks, giving him the Vikings record but coming up excruciatingly short of the NFL record.

As for the game, the Vikings jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter behind a 26-yard Ryan Longwell FG and a 5-yard TD dash by Percy Harvin. Chicago came right back and answered in the 2nd quarter, though, scoring on a 22-yard McCown-to-Roy Williams pitch-and-catch and then on a 22-yard INT return by CB Charles Tillman just 2 plays into the Vikings next drive.

And it got worse for Ponder. On the Vikings first play following the Tillman pick 6, Ponder rolled to the right, threw a pass, and was brought to the ground by Bears DE Israel Idonije, re-injuring the hip that has bothered Ponder late in the season and forcing him from the game. Joe Webb replaced Ponder, and right before halftime he drove the Vikings down the field to set up Longwell for another FG, this one pulling the score to 14-13 in favor of Chicago right in front of halftime.

The 3rd quarter was dominated by defense. The Vikings had drives end in an INT and 2 punts, while the Bears were forced to punt 3 times in the quarter. Appropriately enough, it was in the 3rd quarter, on a 3rd-and-14 play from the Chicago 40, where Allen set the new Vikings single-season sack mark. After the sack, Allen raced to the sideline where he was embraced by many of his teammates, and the sold-out Mall of America Field crowd gave their favorite calf-roping DE a huge ovation.

Unfortunately, the Vikings were unable to cap Allen’s record-setting day and Kleinsasser’s emotional farewell with a come-from-behind effort in the 4th quarter. Webb gave a tremendous effort, repeatedly avoiding pressure from the Bears defense, but it just wasn’t enough to put points on the board. The Bears added a FG on the first possession of the quarter and their defense was able to keep Webb and Co. in check the rest of the way to hold onto the victory.

There was obviously plenty of other action and development in the game, and we’ll continue to bring you post-game reaction and thoughts throughout tonight and into tomorrow right here on vikings.com. But for now, the loss drops the Vikings to 3-13 for the season and keeps them winless in the NFC North. The team will gather at Winter Park on Monday for a final team meeting and then will meet with reporters in the locker room before heading out for the offseason. Leslie Frazier will have his end-of-the-year press conference on Tuesday.


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Kleinsasser Set To Play In Final Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 1, 2012 – 9:18 am

In the era of free agency, where professional athletes change teams more often than Chris Kluwe tweets, it’s not often you see a player drafted by, play with and retire from the same team. There are instances every now and then, but for the most part it’s a feat that has gone by the wayside. Coaching changes are another factor that prevent this from happening, as new coaches bring new philosophies that require substantial personnel changes.

But somehow, through 13 NFL seasons and 4 different head coaches, Jim Kleinsasser has remained with the Vikings and has been an integral part of the franchise since he was selected with a 2nd-round pick in 1999.

Today, Kleinsasser’s remarkable run comes to an end.

Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that the burly-but-affable character has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.

And it’s when Kleinsasser has worked in the trenches that the Vikings have exceled. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.

“Jimmy’s one of those players that, as an organization, you take for granted,” former LB and current Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “The reliability factor in being a good pro gets overlooked at times by the skill sets and the flash of certain players and positions. He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career. Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”

Studwell has a great perspective to offer on the matter because he, too, was known as a gritty player and because he was largely responsible for the scouting and drafting of Kleinsasser. The longest-tenured pro athlete in the Twin Cities who was retained in 2003 by the Vikings via the Franchise Tag, Kleinsasser was selected in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 1999 NFL draft after the Vikings traded picks 59, 73 and 163 to the Steelers in order to acquire him. At the University of North Dakota, Kleinsasser was a consensus All-American and unanimous All-NCC First-Team selection.

“Back when we drafted Jimmy, I think people had kind of lost sight of the fact that Jim could run,” Studwell explained. “He wasn’t the most flexible athlete in the world and never will be, but Jim could run in the 4.7s and had tremendous ball skills. But for a guy of his size, he was a better athlete than people gave him credit for. We certainly got our money’s worth with him.

“The thing that really kind of solidified his value for the league was the way he played in the Senior Bowl. He went down to the Senior Bowl and certainly did not look out of place. He held his own, he did what he did at North Dakota and did it against the best players in the country. He’s been a valuable asset to this organization and to this team since he got here.”

Since Kleinsasser arrived in Minnesota, he’s done nothing but work hard and produce results. He’s played on 5 different playoff teams, ranks 2nd in team history for starts by a TE with 128, has played in 181 games for his career and hasn’t missed a game since 2005. Whether you talk to Head Coach Leslie Frazier, Studwell or Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman, one description showered upon Kleinsasser is that of consistency.

“He’s the consummate pro who shows up to work every day,” Spielman said. “He sets a great example for all the young kids as they come in. You know what you’re getting week-in and week-out when you line up on Sundays. He’s as consistent a performer as we’ve had since I walked in until now. He’s a unique player because of all those attributes.”

The versatile TE’s path to the Vikings is one not often traveled, but it suits him perfectly. One of just 3 players (Dave Osborn, Ron Green) drafted by the Vikings from the University of North Dakota, Kleinsasser is an avid outdoorsman and thoroughly enjoys the ambience of the Gopher State. From the facial hair, to grit and toughness, to Upper Midwest culture and way of life, Kleinsasser personifies the Vikings mascot that adorns his helmet and he feels right at home living in Minnesota.

“I love the Minnesota area and the people here are great,” he says. “I really enjoy the outdoors and this is just a great place to live. My wife is from here, so it’s just perfect because it’s close to my family and hers.”

Kleinsasser’s love for the area extends beyond than the outdoors and into the local community. He has worked extensively with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, serving with his wife to host the annual fundraising ball in the Twin Cities. He participates annually in the Epilepsy Foundation Clothing Drive, has participated at the North Dakota Special Olympics Games, took part in the 2008 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener and has also worked with D.A.R.E., the United Way and Vikings Victory Hospital Visits.

Today Kleinsasser will complete his 13th season in the NFL. Entering today’s game, Kleinsasser has 192 receptions for 1,684 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also has 43 rushing attempts for 147 yards and 1 touchdown. But the true measure of Kleinsasser’s impact on the Vikings over the last 13 years is not necessarily found in a box score or stats packet. It’s found within the trenches where he’s battled defensive linemen and linebackers, inside the locker room where he’s been a friend and leader to countless teammates and staff members, and around the Upper Midwest community where he’s made a positive impact on many lives.

Kleinsasser is Minnesota’s definition of what it means to be a Viking, and he’s truly a great Norseman from the Northland.

Here’s a picture of Jim and his family prior to today’s game:

 


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Frazier Looking To Send Off Kleinsasser With A TD, Win

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 29, 2011 – 8:34 am

Vikings TE Jim Kleinsasser will complete his 13th and final season on Sunday, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier would like to send the burly-but-affable TE off in style.

“No doubt about it,” Frazier said at his Wednesday press conference. “I’m not letting out any secrets there. If we get down to the one, Chicago, you better stop number 40. We’re going to find a way to try to get him in the end zone if we can.”

If the Vikings are able to get Kleinsasser in the end zone one last time, it’ll be the 8th TD of his career. That’s not a gaudy number for a 13-year veteran TE, but as all Vikings fans know, Kleinsasser’s value to the team is not defined by his line in the box score.

“He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career,” Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”

Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that he has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.

And it’s when Kleinsasser works in the trenches that the Vikings excel. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.

“He’s meant so much to our organization and he’s meant a great deal to me,” Frazier said. “He’s one of those guys you count on. He’s one of our leaders on our team and just a loyal, hard-working guy, tough as nails and someone you can always count on. You know he is going to come to work prepared, ready to do his job, a tremendous example for any young player coming into the League, just his work ethic and the way he approaches things. Just a team player and it would be great for us to send him out on a winning note on Sunday and I told our guys, if you want to thank him for the teammate that he is, let’s find a way to get this ‘W’ in his final game as a Viking. Tremendous person, tremendous player and he has been great for our organization.”


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Recent History Suggests There Is Still Plenty On The Line For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 30, 2011 – 10:22 am

Sitting at 2-9 and with plenty of shortcomings suppressing the team’s ability to display improvement, many are inclined to castaway the Vikings final 5-game stretch of the 2011 season as a meaningless period of time. But a quick stroll down memory lane suggests that there still is plenty on the line for the Vikings as they begin the final stretch of the season, a stretch that includes 3 of the final 5 games at home.

In the 2002 season, which was Mike Tice’s first full season as Head Coach, the Vikings limped out of the gates to a 0-4 start and eventually wound up sitting at 3-10 after 13 weeks. But, just as Leslie Frazier’s team has done this year, that Vikings team didn’t quit on the season. They finished strong by collecting wins in their final 3 contests, knocking two teams – the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins – out of playoff contention along the way.

The benefit of playing hard and not surrendering at the end of the 2002 season paid dividends even in 2003 for the Vikings. With the 9th overall pick in the 2003 draft, the Vikings selected DT Kevin Williams, and then in the 2nd round they pounced on LB E.J. Henderson. Add WR Nate Burleson (3rd round) to a mix that also included Matt Birk, Cory Chavous, Daunte Culpepper, Jim Kleinsasser and Randy Moss, and the Vikings were off to a 6-0 start the following season.

Had the Vikings simply given up at the end of the 2002 season, would the same events have unfolded? Perhaps. But probably not. If the Vikings continue to play hard for the final 5 games of this season and find a way to rattle off a few wins, will the same kind of success follow in 2012? It’s not a guarantee, but it only increases the probability.

The point is not to sweep the underachieving results of 2011 under the rug. No one, from people within Winter Park to the passionate fans that allocate their time, emotion and money to the team, expected or deems acceptable the results of this season. But the key for the Vikings now is not what happened earlier. The key is to fix it and make sure the 2012 season is as exciting as the 2011 season was disappointing.


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Hutchinson Hosts Early Thanksgiving Meal At Amplatz Children’s Hospital

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2011 – 7:00 am

Vikings All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson continued his tradition of providing holiday meals at childrens’ hospitals this week by hosting an early Thanksgiving meal for young patients and their families – approximately 100 people – at the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

In a Vikings-themed room at the hospital, the meal (turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn and pies) was served buffet style. Joining Hutchinson were Vikings OT Patrick Brown, TE Jim Kleinsasser, S Tyrell Johnson, C John Sullivan, WR Kerry Taylor and QB Joe Webb. The players also visited children in their rooms who were not able to attend the Thanksgiving meal.

I’d like to send a special “thank you” to Jennifer Amundson of U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital media relations for passing along the photos.


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Roster Full Of Options At Fullback

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 16, 2011 – 7:21 am

There are a lot of position battles going on within the Vikings roster and many of them have captured the attention of the media and fans. But one of the most competitive and unsettled position battles to date on the Vikings roster is one that hasn’t generated much conversation.

It’s the fullback (FB) position and the Vikings have a healthy competition for that spot on the roster. While in some respects the FB is a dying position on NFL rosters, the Vikings plan to carry a FB, or at least carry a player who can fulfill the role of a FB.

“The fullback position in our league has almost been eliminated,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier explained on Monday after practice. “There are some teams that don’t even carry a fullback anymore. But there’s a place for a fullback in our offense and we just have to identify the right guy.”

So who is the right guy? There are two FBs listed on the roster – Matt Asiata and Ryan D’Imperio. Asiata is an undrafted rookie free agent and he’s been a standout during camp, largely because he’s a nimble athlete who can make defenders miss and he’s also a more-than-capable receiver out of the backfield. D’Imperio was a seventh-round draft choice in 2010 whom the Vikings transitioned from college LB to NFL FB. He made the practice squad last year and is now looking to make the next step in his career and nail down a spot on the 53-man roster.

But Asiata and D’Imperio aren’t the only guys the Vikings are looking at to play FB.

“It’ll be more of a traditional role,” Frazier said of the Vikings FB position. “A guy who can run the lead play for us and help us with the power play and some things we’re doing. But we’d like to be able to utilize tight ends at time in that fullback role and we’ve got to identify the right guys for that. We know Jimmy Kleinsasser can do it; he’s done it before.”

Also in line for that type of role are TEs Jeff Dugan and Ed Barham. Dugan has been a constant on the Vikings roster since 2004 and has the kind of skill set and work ethic to be an NFL FB. Barham is another undrafted rookie free agent, but so far he’s proven to be more of a pass-catching threat in the offense. The same can be said, of course, for second-rounder Kyle Rudolph and another undrafted rookie free agent TE, Allen Reisner.

As you can see, the competition is thick at this position. The Vikings are looking for a player who can lead block and be physical, but also a player who is versatile and can be relied upon to line up in various spots in various formations. I’m guessing we’ll learn a little more about the Vikings search for the right FB onTuesday afternoon because offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will meet with reporters after practice.


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Assessing The Defensive Line And Tight End Positions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2011 – 4:18 pm

Over the next five days on the vikings.com Blog, we’ll breakdown the Vikings roster position-by-position to give fans a comprehensive assessment of the team as the first preseason game – this Saturday night in Tennessee – approaches. Click here to read Monday’s breakdown of the offensive line. Up next is the defensive line and tight ends.

From the moment the Vikings acquired DE Jared Allen before the 2008 season, the defensive line has been a strength and it’s a position that fans didn’t really worry about watching during training camp. The starters were set in stone and any talented players beyond the starters were just gravy.

Heading into the 2011 season, the Vikings still have Allen and fellow Pro Bowler DT Kevin Williams, but gone are former starters DE Ray Edwards and DT Pat Williams. Beyond inserting Brian Robison as Edwards’ replacement and signing DT Remi Ayodele to help Williams in the middle, the Vikings are reassessing their depth behind the starters and also bringing along a couple draft picks.

Jared Allen and Jim Kleinsasser battle during practice

We’ll begin with the two new starters – Robison and Ayodele. They’ll team with Allen and Williams to form the four down linemen in coordinator Fred Pagac’s 4-3 scheme. Ayodele is a run-stuffing DT that will fill the role vacated by Pat Williams. Robison will fill the role vacated by Edwards; he’s earned the opportunity after four productive seasons as a reserve.

Beyond those four players, the Vikings have a bushel of linemen fight for spots in the rotation. And the Vikings defensive line this year will truly be a rotation. Right now the depth chart is not well-defined with first-, second- and third-team units. Rather, several players are rotating in and out of different groups, which creates several different combinations and will allow the defensive line to have fresh legs late in games. When assessing the depth behind the starters, we also have to keep in mind that Williams could be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, which means a starting spot will be available.

Here are a few observations from the last two days and throughout last week on the Vikings defensive line rotation…
– Allen is having a tremendous training camp, but so is fellow DE Everson Griffen. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft and played just occasionally last year. This year, though, I think he’ll be a guy who plays at least 10-15 defensive snaps per game. After Allen, Robison and then Griffen, the next DE in line to play is Adrian Awasom, who has shown some flashes during camp.
– Fred Evans and Letroy Guion seem to be in line after Williams and Ayodele at DT. I’ve also seen Christian Ballard – a fourth-round pick this past April – and Tremaine Johnson take reps with the second-team, but it’s been mostly Evans and Guion. Evans is a guy VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman picked up from Miami early in his tenure with the Vikings. Guion was a fifth-round pick of Spielman’s in 2008 and has developed steadily during his career. He may finally be blossoming into a regular member of the DL rotation. Both guys have taken reps with the first-team on occasion but spend most of their time with the second-team.
– DE D’Aundre Reed is a player to watch this preseason. He’s passed the vikings.com Blog Eye Test a few times during training camp and he’s even been mentioned by head coach Leslie Frazier during a press conference. He stands at 6-4, 260 pounds and is a talented pass rusher. He could improve against the run but I think he’s shown explosion in pressuring the QB from the edge. He’s spent a lot of time with the second-team but is also bouncing down to the third-team at times.
– Former Gopher Cedric McKinley and new pickup Colby Whitlock are primarily third-team DTs and David Akinniyi plays DE on the third-team.

To go any further than that at this point is probably jumping the gun. There are 14 defensive linemen in camp right now and I’m guessing the final number on the 53-man roster will be somewhere between nine and 11. Once we get a couple preseason games under our belts, we can make a better guess as to which players will round out the DL rotation.

Let’s jump quickly to the TEs, where Visanthe Shiancoe enters atop the depth chart and second-round rookie Kyle Rudolph follows. I anticipate the Vikings will use multiple TE sets regularly this season, which means we’ll see Rudolph and Shiancoe on the field at the same time. Shiancoe has had a solid camp and Rudolph has impressed me quite a bit with the camp he’s put together.

Rudolph and Shiancoe aren’t going to blow anyone away with their blocking, though. But that’s part of the reason why the Vikings still have Jim Kleinsasser. He’ll be on the roster and will be a valuable part of this offense, as an option at TE and also as a pseudo member of the offensive line.

If the Vikings keep more than three TEs, which is certainly possible, Jeff Dugan offers consistency and familiarity with the franchise. Then youngsters Ed Barham and Allen Reisner enter the picture and could be fighting for spots on the practice squad. Reisner is out of the University of Iowa and has shown flashes of solid pass-catching ability while Barham has done the same and is a hard guy to tackle after the catch.

As is the case with all positions at this point in training camp, we need preseason games before we further judge.


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Rudolph “Too Good To Pass Up” For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 29, 2011 – 5:52 pm

The Vikings used the 43rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to grab the #1 player at his position – TE Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame. Considered a 1st-round prospect by most, Rudolph slipped into the 2nd round but he didn’t slip past the Vikings.

The only reason one can muster for his slight slide into the 2nd round is a medical issue, as he missed the last 7 games of the 2010 season because of hamstring injury that required surgery. The Vikings clearly felt comfortable with Rudolph’s medical report and whoever the Vikings QB will be in 2011 will feel more comfortable with Rudolph on the field.

“We had no issues with him medically after he was cleared by our doctors,” Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman explained. “When he fell to us, it was too good of a player to pass up. We feel he has a lot of unique skills as a tight end and we’re going to stay true to our board. That was a situation where there was a player that normally I don’t think if he had that hamstring injury you would’ve even had a chance to get. We feel we got great value where we got Kyle.”

Many will compare Rudolph to New England’s Rob Gronkowski, as both have a combination of great size, strength and speed, along with tremendous ball skills. Despite playing in just 29 games for the Irish, Rudolph ranks 4th all-time among Notre Dame TEs with 90 receptions for 1,032 yards. His career-best 33 catches during his sophomore campaign placed 7th among TEs on the school’s season-record chart.

“He has a lot of different skill sets,” Spielman explained. “They’ve split him out wide. They’ve put him at the H. They put him on the line of scrimmage. He’s going to develop into a solid starting tight end in this league.”

At first glance, TE doesn’t appear to be a need for the Vikings. Visanthe Shiancoe is a solid starter and both Jeff Dugan and Jim Kleinsasser are effective in their roles. But Spielman says the Vikings just couldn’t pass on Rudolph and they’ll figure out the roster situation at a later point.

“This was a situation where, I know we have three tight ends that are on our roster right now, but when you have a player like that it’s just too good to pass up,” Spielman said. “I know we’ll sort it all out as we get there. But we just wanted to stay true to our board and he was by far the highest player on our board at this time and we weren’t going to pass him up.”


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Vikings Stats Of The Week

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 28, 2010 – 10:13 am

A few interesting stats to look over as you wait for kickoff of today’s Vikings-Redskins game…

– Leslie Frazier’s 1st career INT came against Tommy Kramer and the Vikings on November 28, 1982, which is 28 years to the day from his 1st game as a (interim)head coach of the Vikings.
– DE Jared Allen now has 78.5 sacks since entering the league in 2004, which ranks 5th among all all NFL players for the most in the first 7 seasons. Allen surpassed Bruce Smith’s 78 in 5 years.
– G Steve Hutchinson can block for his 10th consecutive 1,000-yard rusher (had a 1,000 yard rusher in each of his 9 previous seasons) if RB Adrian Peterson rushes for 20 yards or more.
– TE Jim Kleinsasser can block for his eighth 1,000-yard rusher if  Peterson rushes for 20 yards. Kleinsasser has blocked for 4 straight 1,000-yard rushers.
– Kleinsasser can move into 2nd place for the most consecutive games played by a Vikings TE. Currently he has played in 90 consecutive games, which ranks 3rd and trails Brent Novoselsky’s 91 (2nd).
– K Ryan Longwell can move up the NFL charts for career FGs made. Longwell currently ranks 16th in NFL history with 333 FGs made. He can tie George Blanda (335) for 15th place with 2 FGs.
– Peterson has 49 career combined TDsin 55 career games. With 1 TD, he can move into 7th place in Vikings history, tying Sammy White with 50 career TDs.


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Did You Know?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 3, 2009 – 12:53 pm

A few interesting notes to consider just a couple of days before Monday night’s Vikings-Packers game…

– QB Brett Favre has defeated 31 different NFL teams during his career and can become the 1st player in league history to beat all 32. The only team in his way is the Green Bay Packers.

– Monday night’s Vikings-Packers game will be the119th consecutive sold-out game at the Metrodome, dating back to the preseason opener of 1998. Of the regular season and postseason games (94) during that stretch, the Vikings are 65-29-0 (69.1%) in the friendly confines of the Metrodome.

– If a Vikings RB reaches 100 yards rushing, it will mark the 50th career game TE Jim Kleinsasser has blocked for a 100-yard rusher.

– The Vikings defense opened the game last week with 4 consecutive 3-and-outs, limiting the 49ers to 16 total yards on 12 plays. The 49ers first 1st down came with 11:44 remaining in the 2nd quarter, when the Vikings were flagged for defensive delay of game.

– The Vikings-Packers previous 23 games (1998-2008), which include the 1st playoff matchup between the 2 squads in 2004, have been remarkably even with a combined score of 541-538 in favor of GB. The average scores in those games have been 23.4 and 23.2, respectively.


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