Top 10 Free Agent Signings In Vikings History

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 11, 2013 – 6:51 am

Free agency is about to begin and while we wait to see which players the Vikings sign this year, let’s take a look back at the best (modern) free agent signings in franchise history.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 (year signed), with honorable mentions at the bottom.

Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…

10. Ben Leber (2006)
Leber is a great example of a free agent who provided his team with outstanding value relative to the contract he signed. A starter for 5 seasons at outside LB for the Vikings, Leber was an important part of defenses that ranked 1st against the run for 3 straight seasons (2006-08) and that helped the franchise capture back-to-back division titles in 2008-09 as well as an appearance in the NFC title game following the ‘09 season.

9. Jeff Christy (1993)
A 4th-round pick of the Phoenix Cardinals in 1992, Christy was eventually cut and missed that season. Phoenix’s trash was the Vikings treasure, as Christy played 7 seasons in Minnesota and was a key cog on an offensive line that in 1998 blocked for one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. Christy was a 2-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler in Minnesota who started all 16 games of a season 5 times as a Viking.

8. Gary Anderson (1998)
In just 5 seasons with the Vikings, Anderson quickly climbed the franchise’s all-time scoring list and still ranks 6th. He had a perfect regular season in 1998, helping the Vikings to a 15-1 record. In 2000, Anderson surpassed the legendary George Blanda to become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer (he now ranks 2nd).

7. Darren Sharper (2005)
One of the most prolific ball-hawking safeties in the NFL, Sharper jumped state lines in 2005 and joined the Vikings for 4 productive seasons. During his Vikings career, Sharper was an All-Pro twice and he tallied 18 INTs and 3 TDs.

6. Pat Williams (2005)
One half of the famed “Williams Wall” that anchored a dominant Vikings run defense for half a decade, Williams finished his 14-year NFL career with 6 great seasons in Minnesota. The Vikings became the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to lead the NFL in rush defense, and Williams was a key contributor in that effort.

5. Randall Cunningham (1997)
Out of football for a year in 1996, Cunningham joined the Vikings in ‘97 and displayed no signs of rust. He enjoyed the greatest season of his career as a Viking in 1998, guiding the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season record with 34 TDs and only 10 INTs. Among QBs with 20+ starts, Cunningham has the 2nd-best winning percentage (.696) and his 34-TD campaign in ‘98 still ranks 2nd all-time in club history.

4. Ryan Longwell (2006)
As steady as the day is long, Longwell was a key part of 2 division winning teams during his 6 years with the Vikings and finished his career in Purple ranked 3rd in all-time scoring. Blair Walsh began to rewrite the Vikings record book for kickers, and much of what he’s rewritten only validates how productive Longwell was for the Vikings. Longwell ranks 1st in Vikings history with 9 game-winning FGs.

3. Steve Hutchinson (2006)
A member of the 50 Greatest Vikings team, Hutchinson was a dominant road-grading run blocker and sure-fire pass protector during his 6 seasons with the Vikings. Hutchinson earned 4 of his 7 career Pro Bowls with the Vikings, and he was an invaluable part of Vikings offenses that featured a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his seasons in Minnesota.

2. Brett Favre (2009)
After torturing the Vikings for 16 seasons as a member of the Packers, Favre joined the Purple in 2009 and had arguably his best season with 33 TDs and a passer rating of 107.2 while leading the Vikings to the NFC title game. Favre was the difference between a team that went 10-6/one-and-done in the playoffs following the 2008 season and a team that went 12-4 and was on the brink of a Super Bowl appearance.

1. Antoine Winfield (2004)
An easy selection at #1, Winfield has been the rare blue-chip signing who outperforms expectations. He has played in 119 games over 9 seasons with the Vikings and in 2010 was named to the 50 Greatest Vikings team. Twice he’s recorded a single-season team record for tackles by a CB (110) and he now holds the Vikings record for most fumble recoveries by a DB with 11 and ranks tied for 2nd in team history with 12 forced fumbles by a DB.  Winfield has also scored all 5 of his career touchdowns (2 FRs, 2 INTs, 1 blocked FG) as a Viking.

Honorable mention: Jerry Ball, Bernard Berrian, Greg Biekert, Corey Chavous, Jack Del Rio, Jerome Felton, Lance Johnstone, Fuad Reveiz, Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor

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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 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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Vikings Have Experienced Thrills in Recent Monday Night Games

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2011 – 2:54 pm

This entry was written by Vikings Public Relations intern Eric Haigh

Playing on Monday Night Football (MNF) is a special moment for any team that gets the opportunity. While the Vikings will be playing in their first MNF game of the season this week at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, they certainly have been involved in many exciting MNF games in their history. To help prepare you for this week’s NFC North rivalry game between the Vikings and Packers, let’s take a look back at the most exciting Vikings MNF games over the past 5 seasons.

Vikings 19, Redskins 16 – September 11, 2006 – FedEx Field
The Vikings kicked off the 2006 season under the lights of FedEx Field with a new head coach in Brad Childress and many other new faces, including CB Cedric Griffin, LG Steve Hutchinson, and K Ryan Longwell. On the first possession of the game, the Vikings drove 80 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run by RB Chester Taylor. After 13 unanswered points by the Redskins, the Vikings came back to take the lead with a 46-yard field goal from Longwell and a 20-yard TD pass from QB Brad Johnson to WR Marcus Robinson. With 4:35 left in the 3rd quarter, Redskins K John Hall tied the game at 16 with a 22-yard field goal. In the final minutes, the Vikings came up big and took the lead with another Longwell FG, this time from 31 yards away with only 1 minute left in the game. The Redskins were able to get into position for a 48-yard FG try with 17 seconds remaining, but the kick sailed wide left and the Vikings opened their season with a big win on the road.

Vikings 20, Bears 13 – December 17, 2007 – HHH Metrodome
The Vikings entered this MNF matchup with an 8-6 record and a chance to put themselves in good position for a playoff berth. In their way was another NFC North rival, the Chicago Bears. Despite a noisy crowd that wanted to see their Vikings make that push into the postseason, the Purple started off slowly, falling behind 13-6 at the end of the 1st half with their only points coming on two Longwell FGs. The Vikings kept that momentum going in the 3rd quarter, as rookie RB Adrian Peterson punched a TD in from 1-yard out. However, the extra point following the score sailed wide left and kept the score at 13-12 in favor of Chicago. With just over 11 minutes remaining, starting QB Tarvaris Jackson was knocked out of the game with an injury. One play later, Peterson went up the middle for an 8-yard TD. Backup quarterback Brooks Bollinger scored a 2-point conversion after the TD and the Vikings never looked back, winning 20-13.

Packers 24, Vikings 19 – September 8, 2008 – Lambeau Field
The second time the Vikings opened the season on MNF came in this 2008 showdown with their division rival Packers. Green Bay was coming off of a 2007 season in which the team reached the NFC Championship Game, losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in overtime. The Vikings were coming off a promising season with many young players looking to make the jump to the next level. Both offenses had trouble early in the game, with 3 of the first 4 scores being FGs. Going into halftime, Green Bay held a 10-6 lead, and after a 76-yard punt return for a TD from Packers punt returner Will Blackmon, hope was dwindling for the Vikings. However, the team rallied, scoring 2 TDs in the 4th quarter. With the score 24-19, the Vikings got the ball back with 1:51 remaining in the game and marched to the Minnesota 45 before QB Tarvaris Jackson was intercepted by Packers safety Atari Bigby to clinch the game. The Vikings would come back and beat the Packers at home later in the 2008 season on their way to an NFC North Championship.

Vikings 30, Saints 27 – October 6, 2008 – Louisiana Superdome
Entering a loud and raucous Louisiana Superdome on October 6, 2008, both the Vikings and Saints were in need of a win to remain in their respective division races. The Vikings did nothing to help quiet the crowd during the earlier stages, giving up a 17-yard TD from Saints QB Drew Brees to WR Devery Henderson just 3:51 into the game. New Orleans again moved the ball into scoring position midway through the 1st quarter before settling for a Martin Gramatica 46-yard FG attempt. The attempt was blocked and returned 59 yards for a TD by Vikings CB Antoine Winfield. After FGs by each team, Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe hauled in a 4-yard TD pass from running back Chester Taylor on a trick play to put the Vikings up 20-10 heading into halftime. The Saints stormed back in the 2nd half, scoring 17 unanswered points, including punt return TDs of 71 and 64 yards by Saints RB Reggie Bursh to give New Orleans a 27-20 lead. With 7:10 to go in the 4th quarter, Vikings QB Gus Frerotte hooked up with WR Bernard Berrian for a 33-yard TD to even the score. After a Saints missed FG, the Vikings got the ball back and took a shot deep to Berrian, who the officials say was interfered with by S Kevin Kaesviharn, putting the ball at the New Orleans 14. Longwell hit a 30-yard FG with 16 seconds left in the game to give the Vikings a much-needed win.

Vikings 30, Packers 27 – October 5, 2009 – Mall Of America Field
The storylines were aplenty when the Vikings met the Packers in Week 4 of the 2009 season. Vikings QB Brett Favre, who had spent 16 years of his career with the Packers and won one Super Bowl and 3 MVP awards, was facing his old team for the first time, only adding to the fierce rivalry between the two sides. On the other side was Favre’s successor, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who was in the middle of his second season and the team’s full-time starter. Favre made his mark first after the Vikings recovered a Rodgers fumble, firing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Shiancoe to take an early 7-0 lead. One minute and four seconds later, Rodgers threw a 62-yard TD pass to Packers TE Jermichael Finley to even the score. After Favre hooked up with WR Sidney Rice for a 14-yard TD in the 2nd quarter, the Vikings defense came up with a stop and got the ball back again. However, Packers rookie LB Clay Matthews stripped Adrian Peterson of the ball and took it back 42 yards for a TD to make the score 14-14. Peterson made up for his mistake on the next offensive series, taking the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out to give the Vikings a 7-point advantage heading into halftime. From there, Favre and the Vikings put their foot on the gas. Favre drove the offense down the field on the opening drive of the 2nd half and finished it off with a 31-yard TD pass to Berrian. After scoreless play for over a quarter, the Vikings defense got in on the act, as DE Jared Allen sacked Rodgers in the end zone, stripping him of the ball and recovering it. After a Packers challenge, it was ruled that Rodgers’ knee was down in the end zone, resulting in a Vikings safety and a 30-14 lead. A Packers TD reception by receiver Jordy Nelson and a 31-yard FG from kicker Mason Crosby was not enough to overcome the deficit, as Favre beat his former team for the first time. Favre would go on to lead the Vikings to a 2009 NFC North Championship and an NFC Championship Game appearance.

Over the next several weeks with the stadium issue on the front burner in Minnesota, we’ll have a piece of stadium information posted after each Blog entry.

Stadium Did You Know?
– Because of the revenue-challenged Metrodome, the Vikings receive annual subsidies of $15-20 million from other NFL teams in order to compete, including smaller markets like Green Bay and Kansas City.

– State lottery proceeds were used in Baltimore and Seattle to help pay for new football and baseball stadiums.

– The Twins ballpark legislation required the team to pay 30% of the total construction costs while Hennepin County covered the remaining 70%. The Vikings have agreed to fund 33% of the costs of an NFL-ready open-air stadium in Minnesota.

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Offensive Line, Defense Step Up In 2nd Half vs. Panthers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 31, 2011 – 9:01 am

Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder deserve every ounce of credit coming their way in the aftermath of Sunday’s 24-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. But if you have any more credit to pass around, throw some to the Vikings offensive line and the defensive effort because both were very good in the 2nd half at Carolina.

We’ll start with the offensive line, a group that has received more than its fair share of criticism lately and also a group dealing with injuries. C John Sullivan returned to action on Sunday from a concussion suffered 2 weeks ago and RG Anthony Herrera wasn’t able to go this week because of a knee injury. Fortunately for the Vikings, veteran lineman Joe Berger stepped into both roles over the past 2 weeks and the offensive line has improved along the way.

In the 2nd half on Sunday, the Vikings put together a pair of methodical drives where the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. The first drive came in the 3rd quarter and culminated in a 9-yard Peterson TD run. The drive went 85 yards in 12 plays and took 5:41 off the clock. The second long drive came in the 4th quarter and culminated in the game-winning FG. The drive went 72 yards in 13 plays and took 7:10 off the clock.

In those two drives, the offensive line paved the way for a total of 14 carries between Peterson and Gerhart for 85 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 1 TD. Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave did a great job of mixing in Gerhart occasionally to give Peterson a rest, and the offensive line consistently dominated the line of scrimmage to open up creases for the Vikings RBs. On the 3rd-quarter drive, here is a list of gains on the ground: 4, 9, 9, 11, 15, 1, 3, 9 (TD).

The Vikings had a 7-minute advantage in time of possession in the 2nd half, including an 11:01 to 3:59 advantage in the 4th quarter.

Defensively, the secondary will be criticized for giving up 7 receptions and 100 yards to Steve Smith and for giving up a 1st down on a 4th and 15 play late in the game. That’s all fair game, but ultimately the defense did a good enough job to contribute to this victory, and their effort in the 2nd half was much improved.

In the 2nd half, the Vikings allowed fewer 1st downs, total yards and rushing yards, and they forced Carolina into three 3-and-out drives that led to 10 Vikings points and, ultimately, the game-winning drive that was capped by a 31-yard Ryan Longwell FG.

Again, there are certainly areas that need improvement on this Vikings team, and the offensive line and defense are not absolved from that fact. But there’s no question that the 2nd half performances registered by the offensive line and the defense were major keys in the Vikings ability to scratch and claw their way to a win on the road against the Panthers.

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Quick Reaction: Vikings Stars Pace Victory Over Panthers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 30, 2011 – 5:38 pm

The Vikings took to the road on Sunday and earned their 2nd win of the 2011 season behind big-time performances from a few of their stars. The recap of the Vikings 24-21 victory is on the home page, but as we fly home from Carolina on the team charter I thought I’d get the conversation going here on the blog.

So, here are a couple of thoughts from today’s game…

– The best RB in the NFL was up to his old tricks, as Adrian Peterson totaled 162 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs on the afternoon; he was the Vikings leading receiver and rusher. Peterson’s first TD came at the end of the 1st half after the Vikings turned Carolina over. Rookie QB Christian Ponder hit Peterson in the middle of the field on a check down, and Peterson made one cut to the outside and sprinted away from the defense for a 19-yard TD. His second TD came at the end of the 3rd quarter on an impressive run from 9 yards out, where he broke several tackles and drove a few defenders with him on the way to the end zone. It was a tough go for the Vikings with the ground game early on, but Peterson was relentless and eventually broke a few significant runs to log 86 yards on 21 carries. He also had 5 receptions for 76 yards on the day.

– The Vikings wouldn’t have been in position to win Sunday’s game without DE Jared Allen. He had 5 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. The fumble recovery came on Carolina’s first offensive play of the game, as LB E.J. Henderson pressured Carolina QB Cam Newton and forced him to fumble; Allen was there to pounce on the fumble. Two plays later, Percy Harvin pranced in on a 10-yard TD run to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead. Allen’s sack and forced fumble is the play that preceded Peterson’s TD reception at the end of the 1st half; the play was a huge swing for the Vikings because Carolina looked to be driving to try and tack on points late in the 2nd quarter. But the turnover and subsequent Peterson TD changed momentum in the game and knotted the score at 14, instead of the Panthers taking a 21-7 or 17-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

– Ponder must be acknowledged for taking another step forward in his development. He was 18 of 28 for 236 yards and 1 TD, but more importantly he had 0 turnovers and once again looked the part of an NFL QB. The Vikings converted 50% of their 3rd-down plays and they picked up 13 first downs through the air. This marks a significant improvement for the Vikings in both of those categories and it will give Vikings coaches, players and fans even more confidence in their young QB. Another stat that should increase your confidence in Ponder is that, according to my quick calculations using the play-by-play, Ponder was 8 of 10 for 101 yards on 3rd downs.

– K Ryan Longwell won’t be completely satisfied with his performance on Sunday because he missed a 1st-quarter FG try that became an important factor in this week’s game. But he came through in the 4th quarter on a 31-yard try with just 2:43 to play, which gave the Vikings their 3-point winning margin. With that game-winning kick, Longwell is now the Vikings career leader in game-winning FGs with 10, surpassing the mark previously set by Fred Cox (9).

Those are just a few of the individual highlights, and there are many more we could and will go over in the next 48 hours or so. Everson Griffen continues to play well, the offensive line looked better in the 2nd half in the running game, the defense shored up their defense in the 2nd half, Chad Greenway led the club in tackles and his tied for 4th in the NFL in tackles, and Marcus Sherels returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to put the Vikings offense in great field position.

For now, though, let’s hear what you all thought of the game. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below this entry…

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Special Teams Must Be Solid On Sunday Night

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 10:21 am

Special teams is a phase of the game that’s often overlooked, but it remains as important to the outcome of games as defense and offense. And when you play the Chicago Bears, the importance of special teams is even more important. The Bears annually feature one of the finest special teams units in the NFL.

This year is no exception, as the Bears boast the 5th ranked punt coverage team and the 9th ranked kickoff coverage team. In terms of kickoff and punt return, the Bears have perhaps the most dangerous return man of all in Devin Hester. K Robbie Gould is perfect on FGs and PATs this year, and his kickoffs reach the end zone 92.0% of the time; he records touchbacks on 64.0% of his kickoffs, which ranks 6th in the NFL.

Against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, the Bears allowed 547 yards of offense, but they still won the game. And they won the game largely on the strength of their special teams. Hester logged a 64-yard punt return for a TD and a 73-yard kickoff return, and then Julius Peppers blocked a FG late in the 3rd quarter.

The bad news is Chicago’s special teams group is good enough to lead the team to victory. The good news is the Vikings special teams group has been good this year, too. The Vikings rank 6th in kickoff coverage and 5th in both kickoff and punt return average. K Ryan Longwell has been steady and P Chris Kluwe has 7 punts downed inside the 20, 7 punts fair caught and just 1 touchback.

On Thursday, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer had candid assessments of a few important aspects of his special teams group. Here’s what he had to say…

On kickoff coverage
“I think our kickoff covering unit has been outstanding all year. Ryan’s done a great job with our kickoffs. He’s kept people off balance a little bit between the left, right and middle, and the hang time has been really good. Guys are focused. We’ve had a couple guys switch in and out, and even the backups have done a nice job.”

On punt coverage
“Punt coverage was not good for a couple weeks. Detroit and Kansas City were not good and this last week was very good. Chris punted the ball well. Patrick Peterson is a very dangerous returner, but Chris punted the ball very effectively and very well and our guys covered and did a good job forcing fair catches and that’s what you’re looking for.”

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Peterson, Vikings Defense Run Over Cardinals In 34-10 Victory

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2011 – 3:18 pm

Leslie Frazier earned his first victory as Vikings Head Coach on Sunday at Mall of America Field, as his team ran over the Arizona Cardinals to log a 34-10 win. And the Vikings did it the old fashioned way, with a relentless rushing attack and a punishing defensive effort that yielded only 3.8 yards per play and produced 4 turnovers.

The best RB in the NFL looked the part on Sunday, as the Vikings used three Adrian Peterson rushing TDs in the 1st quarter, along with a TD scamper by QB Donovan McNabb and a suffocating performance by the Vikings defense, to build a 28-0 lead before the 1st quarter came to a close. Arizona got on the board with a 2nd-quarter FG and then tacked on a TD in the 3rd quarter, but a rock-solid defensive effort, a commitment to the running game and two FGs by Ryan Longwell in the 2nd half helped the Vikings salt away their first victory of the season.

With a sold-out Mall of America Field crowd behind them, the Vikings defense played lights out for most of the game. But they were particularly sensational in the early going, forcing the following outcomes on Arizona’s first 6 drives: punt, punt, INT, fumble, punt, punt. There was a trio of three-and-out drives, and the Vikings converted both turnovers into TDs. Peterson scored from 4 yards out after the second Arizona punt and then dashed in from 24 yards out just one play after the INT. McNabb scampered in from 4 yards out after the fumble and then Peterson tallied his third rushing score of the day late in the 1st quarter after yet another Arizona punt.

All told in the 1st quarter, the Vikings scored 28 points, outgained Arizona 108-53, forced two turnovers and had an average drive start at the Arizona 40. Meanwhile, the Cardinals average drive start was their own 18, they converted zero of four 3rd-down attempts and they had nearly as many sacks and turnovers (3) as pass completions (4).

With CB Antoine Winfield sidelined because of a neck injury, it was imperative that the young Vikings secondary step up. And they did. Asher Allen grabbed the 1st quarter-INT, while S Jamarca Sanford collected two of his own to close out the game. The rest of the Vikings secondary played well also, as star WR Larry Fitzgerald was held in check with just 4 receptions for 66 yards. QB Kevin Kolb completed just 21 of 42 attempts for 232 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs; backup QB Richard Bartel threw the 3rd INT.

Aiding the young secondary in their effort was a tremendous pass rush, paced once again by perennial Pro Bowler Jared Allen, who had a pair of sacks. Fellow starting DE Brian Robison also had 2.0 sacks on the day, and now the duo has combined for 13.0 sacks this season – Allen has 8.5 and Robison has 4.5.

The Vikings special teams group deserves a nod, too, as they generated an average starting field position for the offense of the MN 42, while creating an average starting field position for Arizona of their own 24. Marcus Sherels had 45 punt return yards on just 2 tries, while P Chris Kluwe allowed zero returns in 4 punts and had two of his punts downed inside the 20, one of which was downed at the Arizona 3. K Ryan Longwell was 4 of 4 on PATs, 2 of 3 on FG tries (including a 53-yarder in the 4th quarter) and had two touchbacks.

The win improves the Vikings to 1-4 on the season and it gets them moving in the right direction as they embark on a road trip to Chicago next weekend and then return home for a date with the Green Bay Packers.

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Vikings, Loeffler Agree To Contract Extension

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2011 – 11:48 am

The Vikings have agreed to terms on a contract extension with long snapper Cullen Loeffler. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I’m excited to be here with the Minnesota Vikings,” Loeffler said. “I love this organization and I’m really glad to be a Viking. I expect good things in the future.”

Loeffler is in his 8th season with the Vikings and has handled all the special teams snapping duties since joining the club as a rookie free agent in 2004. Loeffler has responded in big situations, snapping on 5 of the 6 longest FGs in team history and 4 of the 6 longest game-winning FGs, including a career-long 55-yard game winner at Chicago in 2007 by Ryan Longwell. Loeffler has helped punter Chris Kluwe re-write the Vikings record book for game, season and career punting for average, long punts and punts landed inside the 20.

Loeffler is only the second Vikings long snapper to appear in 100+ games. Mike Morris holds the record with 144 games while Loeffler has appeared in 116 games during his career.

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Vikings Drop 23-17 Decision To Dallas

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 27, 2011 – 10:15 pm

The Vikings dropped a 23-17 decision to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night at Mall of America Field in a game that saw the return of the Vikings to their home stadium for the first time since December 5, 2010. The contest was the third preseason game for both teams and it gave coaches and fans an extended look at starters.

The difference in the game turned out to be on special teams, where Dallas blocked a 50-yard FG attempt by Ryan Longwell and returned it for a TD. Gerald Sensabaugh got his mitts on Longwell’s kick and CB Alan Ball eventually recovered the loose ball and dashed to the endzone, giving the Cowboys a 10-7 lead early in the 2nd quarter.

From that point forward, each team found the endzone once - Dallas on a 5-yard TD run by Felix Jones and the Vikings on a 10-yard scamper from QB Joe Webb – and Dallas came away with the 6-point win. Longwell came on to convert a 44-yard FG later in the game and the Cowboys converted a pair of FGs to create the winning margin.

The Vikings actually held an advantage in most statistical categories, including total yards, first downs and third-down efficiency. But the score on special teams was enough to tip the balance.

We’ll have much more from Saturday night’s game soon, including a look at the Vikings first-team offense and injury updates on the Vikings secondary. With three preseason games now in the books, the Vikings have a 1-2 record. Their next game is the preseason finale and it takes place on Thursday night at Mall of America Field against the Houston Texans.

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Vikings Special Teams Strong Again Saturday Night

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 22, 2011 – 8:42 am

The Vikings special teams unit is going through a period of transition right now, partly because of some roster turnover but largely because there is a new coordinator in charge. Mike Priefer is now on the job and he’s making significant changes to some of the fundamental aspects of each special teams phase.

We’ll spare the detail of those changes for now, but suffice it to say Priefer has had a lot to teach in a short amount of time, especially considering he didn’t have the minicamps and Organized Team Activities (OTAs) usually afforded to teams in the offseason.

Despite all of that, early results are outstanding for Priefer and Co. The special teams were probably the strongest part of the Vikings preseason debut in Tennessee a week ago and then last Saturday in Tennessee the special teams gave another strong showing.

Let’s go over some of the highlights…

– Ryan Longwell has been solid on kickoffs all preseason. On Saturday night he was hitting his kicks into the endzone, with one going as deep as 6 yards. That combined with terrific effort from the coverage team is helping the Vikings win the field position battle. Here is Seattle’s starting field position after Longwell’s four kickoffs: SEA 11, SEA 27, SEA 9, SEA 15. The Vikings defense will enjoy life quite a bit this season if opponents are starting drives inside the 20 with regularity.

– P Chris Kluwe is doing his part to help the Vikings win the field position battle, too. On Saturday night he had 4 punts, with a gross average of 39.8 and a net average of 38.5. When the gross average and net average are similar, you know the opponents aren’t doing much in the return game. Seattle averaged just 1.7 yards per return on 3 tries and Kluwe landed 2 of his 4 punts inside the 20.

– S Eric Frampton continues to be a standout in kick coverage. He had another open-field tackle on Saturday night.

– Longwell was also solid in the place kicking department, nailing FGs from 34 and 36 yards and also hitting his lone PAT try. The battery of long snapper Cullen Loeffler to Kluwe also improved on Saturday night.

– Lorenzo Booker, who is my choice to be the Vikings kickoff returner this season, registered another impressive return on Saturday night with a 26-yard scamper. Marcus Sherels, who returned an INT 64 yards for a score in the game, also had 2 punt returns for a 10.0-yard average, but he did lose a fumble and that won’t be tolerated by Priefer and special teams assistant coach Chris White.

– Outside of Frampton, the other players credited with special teams tackles on Saturday were: Tony Carter, Loeffler, Sherels, Devon Torrence and Mark Washington. Devin Aromashodu (1), Jasper Brinkley (2),  Booker (1) and Larry Dean (1) were all credited with assists.

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