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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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Vikings Push Lions To Limit, Lose On Last Play 34-28

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2011 – 5:26 pm

You wouldn’t have thought it was possible in the 1st quarter, when the Lions were firmly in control and held a 21-0 advantage at one point, but the Vikings had a ton of fight in them on Sunday at Ford Field and they gave the Lions more than they could handle.

Unfortunately, though, giving the Lions more than they wanted to handle wasn’t enough. Detroit, a team that came in having lost 3 of their last 4 and 5 of their last 7 after starting 5-0, was able to escape the game clinging to a 34-28 victory as a last-second play from the 1-yardline went awry for the Vikings and the officials missed a severe facemask infraction against Lions LB DeAndre Levy (just look at the photo on the home page of vikings.com to see how severe and obvious an infraction it was).

There is so much to go over from this game that presenting it in paragraph fashion will not be effective. Here’s a quick summary of the game, with many details missing but the main story explained…

– A pretty good looking start quickly turned into an awful series of events for the Vikings. The Lions won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Vikings defense forced a punt after giving up just 1 first down. The Vikings offense took over 1st and 10 on the 10-yardline. On the Vikings first offensive snap, Lions DE Cliff Avril got around the edge of RT Phil Loadholt and Vikings QB Christian Ponder was not able to step up into the pocket quick enough. Avril batted the ball from Ponder’s hands and then LB Stephen Tulloch pounced on the ball to score a TD.

– Things got much worse before they got better for the Vikings. Ponder was intercepted by CB Alphonso Smith on the next possession, and Detroit turned the turnover into a TD just two plays later when QB Matthew Stafford found WR Titus Young down the left sideline for a 57-yard score. The Vikings punted the ball away on their next possession, and Stafford struck again 3 plays later, this time finding TE Brandon Pettigrew for a 12-yard score. At that point the score was 21-0 and it looked like the game would be no contest.

– But Ponder and the Vikings showed life. The rookie QB drove his team down the field – 80 yards in 10 plays – and capped the drive by finding TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 7-yard score.

– Things looked as if they’d get better on the next drive, as the Vikings forced another Lions punt. Two plays later, though, Ponder threw another INT. This one was returned by Smith for a 30-yard TD, and the Lions lead was 28-21. Once again, Ponder responded by driving down the field for a TD. After another 10-play drive, this one for 60-yards, Ponder found WR Percy Harvin for a 12-yard score, and we had a game at 28-14 midway through the 2nd quarter.

– The teams exchanged 3 punts after the Harvin TD, and the Vikings had the ball 1st and 10 from their own 16 looking to pull to within 7 points before halftime. But RB Lorenzo Booker lost a fumble and the Lions were able to turn it into 3 points just before halftime to take a 31-14 lead into the locker room.

– On the first drive of the 2nd half, Ponder threw another INT, his 3rd of the game, and after that was replaced by Joe Webb. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier explained after the game that the move to Webb was the result of Ponder not being able to operate normally because of his hip injury. Going forward, Frazier explained, Ponder will be the starter. For the rest of the game, though, it was Webb’s ballgame. And Webb answered the bell, in a big way.

– The Vikings defense bowed up in the 2nd half, paving the way for Webb to mount a furious comeback. Webb got the party started late in the 3rd quarter by dashing through and away from the Lions defense for a 65-yard TD run. It was the longest run ever by a Vikings QB and the 6th-longest run ever by an NFL QB. More important, though, is the fact that it pulled the Vikings to 31-21 with just over 19 minutes to play in the game.

– The Vikings defense continued to shut down the Lions offense, holding Detroit to just 3 points in the entire 2nd half. After Jason Hanson’s 4th-quarter FG to make the score 34-21, Webb drove the Vikings down the field – 12 plays, 60 yards – and found RB Toby Gerhart for a 2-yard score. That made the score 34-28 in favor of the Lions.

– The Vikings defense answered the bell yet again on the next drive, forcing the Lions to punt the ball and opening up an opportunity for Webb to finish the comeback effort. Down 21-0 and 28-7 at various points in the game, the Vikings were poised to stun the Lions and their home crowd by notching a game-winning TD on the game’s final drive.

– Using his legs and his throwing arm, Webb drove the Vikings from their own 20 to the Lions 1. Facing a 1st and goal from the 1 with 9 seconds to play, the Vikings called a fade/fade stop option route to TE Kyle Rudolph, who faced single coverage split wide left. Rudolph was covered right after the snap, and as Webb attempted to extend the play by scrambling left, Levy grabbed his facemask and forced a fumble. Detroit recovered the fumble all the way down the field at the Minnesota 43, but the referees failed to call the egregious penalty. Had the officials made the right call, the Vikings would’ve had an untimed down from inside the 1-yardline with no time on the clock. But because the referees missed the call – which should’ve been easy to see because the facemask infraction caused the fumble – the game was over and the Lions escaped with a victory.

There’s so much more to go over from this game, including discussion about the Ponder/Webb situation, the tremendous play of DE Jared Allen (3.0 sacks), Toby Gerhart performing well in place of superstar Adrian Peterson, and the surge in play we’ve seen from DT Kevin Williams over the last several weeks. We’ll get to all of that over the next 2 days or so on the vikings.com Blog as we digest this game and get ready to move on to next week’s matchup with the New Orleans Saints, who will visit Mall of America Field on Sunday.


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Frazier Updates Several Injuries

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 5, 2011 – 1:48 pm

Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Monday to discuss Sunday’s game and the status of his team as they try and move past the loss to Denver and on to preparations for next weekend’s game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. He opened with an update on players who sustained injuries during Sunday’s game.

Here’s a quick summary of what Frazier said…

– QB Christian Ponder has a hip pointer and will likely be limited in practice, at least early in the week. Ponder suffered the injury during the game and was obviously able to finish, but the team will monitor the injury closely over the next few days and adjust the QB’s practice time accordingly. It’s important to note a couple things here. First, Ponder relies on his mobility, so a hip injury is significant to him. Secondly, Ponder played through injuries in college and will be willing to play through pain.

– LB Chad Greenway hyper-extended his elbow, but he was also able to finish the game. It won’t be surprising if he’s limited in some capacity this week, but I’m anticipating he’ll be able to play at this point.

– DE Brian Robison suffered a concussion and did not finish the game. As is the case with all concussions, this will be a day-to-day situation.

– TE Visanthe Shiancoe came out of the game with a swollen hand. Frazier said X-rays of the hand did not show a fracture, which is obviously good news and gives Shiancoe a chance to play this weekend.

As for RB Adrian Peterson, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, there is no timeline for his return. It could be as early as this week, but there’s also a possibility that he misses another game. We’ll monitor his status as the week progresses.


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Happy Thanksgiving, Vikings Fans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2011 – 8:00 am

Happy Thanksgiving, Vikings fans. We here at vikings.com and the Vikings Entertainment Network hope you are able to enjoy Thanksgiving and football with family, loved ones and/or friends today.

As a side dish to a big Thanksgiving meal, here are some fun facts about your favorite football team as they prepare to play the Washington Redskins this Sunday.

– DE Jared Allen needs just 3.5 more sacks to reach the 100 sack mark for his career.

– With 4 more receptions WR Percy Harvin can move into 4th all time in Vikings history for most catches in first 3 seasons.

– Vikings LB Chad Greenway recorded 20 tackles last week against the Raiders, which is tied for 4th most in Vikings history. Greenway is averaging 10.7 tackles a game this season and is on pace to set a career-high in tackles ( has 107, career-high is 150 in 2008).

– Vikings QB Christian Ponder has shown grace under pressure by completing 63.3 % of his passes on 3rd down in his action this season, ranking as the 7th-best completion percentage among QBs with 20+ 3rd-down attempts on the season. Inside the red zone, Ponder has gone 8-of-9 with 3 TDs to lead the NFL among all passers in red zone completion percentage. Ponder’s 3 red zone TDs have gone to 3 diff erent players- Visanthe Shiancoe, Adrian Peterson and fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph.

– DE Kevin Williams had a 54-yard INT return for a TD on 9/9/07. 1 of his Vikings-record 4 defensive TDs.

– Over the last 5 years, the Vikings have had one of the best running attacks in the NFL, rushing for 10,263 yards. The team’s 138.7 yards per game average ranks #1.

– The Falcons and Vikings have had a common head coach, the Viking franchise’s 1st head coach Norm Van Brocklin who coached the Vikings from 1961-66 and went on to coach the Falcons from 1968-74.


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Peterson Has High Ankle Sprain; Status For Sunday Unknown

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 21, 2011 – 12:57 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Monday and he provided an update on RB Adrian Peterson, who was forced out of Sunday’s game in the 2nd quarter after injuring his ankle. Frazier says Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain and will be in a walking boot for the next couple of days.

Frazier added that there is some ligament damage, that the ankle sprain is a Grade 1 sprain, and that Peterson will try and practice on Friday to see if he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

“The good news is it’s nothing more serious than that, the fact that it is an ankle sprain and he’ll recover from it,” Frazier said. “It’s just the matter of the amount of time he’ll miss. We’ll have a better indication toward the end of the week.”

On other injury news, Frazier said that TE Kyle Rudolph has a quad contusion and will be day-to-day. Fellow TE Visanthe Shiancoe suffered a mild strain to his hamstring. Finally, Frazier had good news on the Erin Henderson front, saying the starting LB should be available for this Sunday’s game in Atlanta.


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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 vikings.com 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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Late Run Falls Short, Vikings Lose 33-27 To Packers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 23, 2011 – 6:44 pm

Starting a rookie QB and facing an undefeated defending Super Bowl champion, the Vikings weren’t expected to give their opponents much of a challenge on Sunday. But as is the case so often in the NFL, the expected didn’t happen. The Vikings had the ball and a chance to win late in the 4th quarter, but saw their comeback attempt fall painstakingly short, allowing the Green Bay Packers to leave Mall of America Field with a 33-27 victory.

It was Christian Ponder’s first career NFL start, but it didn’t take him long to get right into this heated Vikings-Packers rivalry. On the game’s first offensive play, Ponder used a play-action fake and rollout to find a wide open Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for what was originally a 73-yard TD that caused the Mall of America Field crowd to burst into a frenzy. Officials took the TD away via replay, but just two plays later Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 2-yard TD and an early 7-0 lead.

Ponder made mistakes in the game – he threw 2 INTs and completed 40.6% of his passes – but ultimately he showed poise under pressure and got his teammates to play hard around him.

The Vikings scored 3 offensive TDs, and two of them were TD tosses from Ponder. The other TD came from Adrian Peterson, who carried the ball 24 times and gained 175 yards. With Ponder posing as a threat to move the ball through the air, Peterson found a little extra room in the running game and he took advantage, registering runs of 54, 29 and 25 yards.

Ponder spread the ball around, hitting 6 different targets for 219 total yards. Jenkins was Ponder’s most productive receiver, as he hauled in 3 receptions for 111 yards and 1 TD. Shiancoe had 4 grabs for 45 yards and the score, while both Greg Camarillo and Percy Harvin had 2 receptions; Harvin missed much of the 2nd half because of a rib injury.

Green Bay retaliated immediately after the Vikings scored on their first drive, going 91 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 7 on a 2-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to FB John Kuhn. Rodgers guided a passing attack that methodically drove down the field against the Vikings on that first scoring drive, and it was a sign of things to come for Rodgers and Co. Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and 3 TDs on the afternoon.

Following the Packers first score, Ponder responded by guiding another TD drive in the 2nd quarter that culminated in Peterson’s TD, and a 14-7 lead. The Vikings and Packers exchanged FGs after that, which led to a 17-10 Vikings lead at halftime.

Green Bay came out in the 3rd quarter and scored 20 points behind more precision from Rodgers in the passing game. The Green Bay QB found a wide open Greg Jennings thanks to busted coverage for a 79-yard TD right away in the 3rd quarter, and then the Packers scored only minutes later on a 2-yard strike from Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley. The Packers added 2 more Mason Crosby FGs to take a 33-17 lead into the 4th quarter.

From there, though, Green Bay was done scoring. The Vikings defense held Green Bay out of scoring range and Ponder rallied from a poor 3rd quarter to nearly pull off an upset. He guided the offense 93 yards in 10 plays to score a TD – Jenkins hauled in a 24-yard TD pass – and bring the Vikings to within just 6 points.

The Vikings defensed forced a Green Bay punt after just 4 plays on the ensuing drive, and Ponder took over from his own 2-yardline after a special teams miscue by the Vikings. Missing his best receiver (Harvin), Ponder willed the offense to a pair of 3rd-down conversions, but the Vikings couldn’t extend the drive on a 3rd and 10 play from their own 36. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the right move and punted the ball away, thinking his defense – armed with 3 timeouts and the 2-minute warning – could stop Green Bay’s attempts to drain the clock.

But the Packers executed better than the Vikings in the game’s final 2:30, and they were able to run out the clock and come away with a hard-fought 33-17 victory.

CB Asher Allen and LB Chad Greenway each finished with a team-high 11 tackles, while DE Jared Allen collected 2.0 sacks. Allen now has the Vikings franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack; he’s at 9 now, and surpassed the previous mark set by Jim Marshall and matched by Carl Eller.

The loss drops the Vikings to 1-6 on the season. And while moral victories don’t count in the standings, the Vikings and their fans came away from Mall of America Field on Sunday encouraged by what they saw from their rookie QB and a secondary that was over-matched against Rodgers and Co.


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Vikings Lead 17-13, Doleman Inducted Into Ring Of Honor At Halftime

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 23, 2011 – 3:51 pm

It was Christian Ponder’s first career NFL start, but it didn’t take him long to get right into this Vikings-Packers rivalry. Playing for the 101st time in series history, the Vikings jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead behind a pair of Ponder completions right out of the gate.

On the game’s first offensive play, Ponder used a play-action fake and rollout to find a wide open Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for what was originally a 73-yard TD that caused the Mall of America Field crowd to burst into a frenzy. Officials took the TD away via replay, but just two plays later Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 2-yard TD and an early 7-0 lead.

Green Bay retaliated immediately, driving 91 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 7.

Ponder guided another TD drive in the 2nd quarter that culminated in an Adrian Peterson TD, and a 14-7 lead. The Vikings and Packers exchanged FGs after that, which led to a 17-10 Vikings lead at halftime.

Credit goes to DE Jared Allen, who already has 2.0 sacks of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Allen’s first sack of the game set a new franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack, as Allen is now at 9. The previous record of 8 was set by Jim Marshall and Carl Eller.

Speaking of sacks by a DE, the man who ranks 4th all-time on the NFL sacks list is Chris Doleman, a former Vikings great. He was honored at halftime and was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor, becoming just the 19th individual to join this elite class of Vikings.


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Expect Green Bay To Test Ponder By Bringing Pressure

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 20, 2011 – 3:25 pm

During their Super Bowl-winning season in 2010 and through the first 6 games of the 2011 season, the Green Bay Packers have not struggled in pressuring opposing QBs. They ranked tied for 2nd in the NFL with 47 sacks last season and so far this season they have 15 sacks.

On Sunday, you can expect their ambitious, QB-chasing attitude on defense to kick up a notch. When defenses rush 5 or more defenders at the QB, it’s called bringing pressure. Defenses salivate at the opportunity to pressure inexperienced, young QBs, and that’s exactly the type of QB the Vikings will start on Sunday. Rookie Christian Ponder is making his first start, and the Vikings are certainly preparing for a pressure-happy Packers defense.

Vikings Head Coach will lean on his experience as an NFL defensive coordinator in providing input on how to prepare Ponder for his first career start.

“We always thought that we were going to see how they responded to pressure,” Frazier said when asked how he prepared for rookie QBs as a defensive coordinator. “That was the big thing, was to see how they responded with people in their face.

“I would imagine it’ll be the same way (on Sunday). He’s going to see a lot of different looks, he’ll see some pressures early, just to see how he responds. That’s the way we usually approach it, just to find out where he was mentally.”

Ponder provided a glimpse into how he might be handle pressure in last Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears. On a 4th and 10, the Bears pressured with LB Lance Briggs, who rushed through the A gap. He made it into the backfield unblocked, which forced Ponder to unload the pass early. Ponder threw a pass to the outside shoulder of TE Visanthe Shiancoe, which was the perfect spot because it prevented LB Brian Urlacher from making a play on the ball.

Those could be the kinds of plays Ponder is going to have to make on Sunday if the Packers get pressure happy and continuously send 5+ rushers.


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Four “Under The Radar” Players In Tonight’s Matchup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 16, 2011 – 10:41 am

We’ve spent the four days talking about tonight’s Vikings-Bears matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and the discussion has focused on everything from the importance of special teams, to Chicago’s pass protection against the Vikings pass rush, to the pair of premier RBs in this matchup with Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson both among the NFL’s top rushers so far this season.

Through it all, though, there are four players about whom we haven’t talked enough. So, we’ll talk about them right now. There are two on each team, and we’ll start with the Vikings…

TE Visanthe Shiancoe and DT Kevin Williams
The Vikings best offensive weapon through 5 games has been Peterson, and he’s played well against the Bears in his career. So we can expect to see a lot of Peterson early in the game. But at some point the Vikings will have to supplement their ground attack with a strike or two through the air, and that’s where Shiancoe enters the picture. No, he’s not the Vikings top option in the passing game, but that might be precisely why he can be a factor tonight. With only 11 catches and 1 TD on the season, Chicago may pay more attention to other threats, such as Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins. You can also be sure the Bears will make sure one of their former players – either Devin Aromashodu or Bernard Berrian – doesn’t burn them. I’m guessing Chicago will play a lot of Cover 2 defense, which is customary for them, and I’m thinking they’ll load up to stop the run. This could create plenty of one-on-one opportunities for Shiancoe, and he’s due to win a few of those matchups and find the endzone.

With Williams, my thinking is the soggy field and poor footing could slightly limit DE Brian Robison’s advantage over new starting RT Lance Louis. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Robison over Louis, but there’s no doubt Robison is better on a fast surface. The slow surface also takes a bit of Jared Allen’s advantage away because he, too, is a speed rusher off the edge who likes a fast track. That sets the stage for Williams, one of the NFL’s top interior defensive lineman and a guy who is hitting full stride right now after missing the first two games of the season. Chicago’s starting center used to be a guard, their left guard used to be an offensive tackle, and their new starting right guard is listed as a guard/center and is coming off a broken hand. Advantage: Kevin Williams

LB Lance Briggs and WR Dane Sanzenbacher
One name is familiar to you (Briggs), and the other probably is not (Sanzenbacher). But both are important pieces to the puzzle for Chicago. An argument can be made that Briggs is the best outside LB in the NFL. He’s very good against the run and he can drop back and play the pass also. Briggs has finished 1st or 2nd in tackles for the Bears every year since 2004, he’s earned 6 straight Pro Bowls and he’s accumulated the following impressive list of statistics: 10.5 sacks, 12 INTs, 48 pass break ups, 12 forced fumbles, 8 fumble recoveries and 66 tackles for a loss. That stat line illustrates just how complete a player Briggs is for this defense.

Sanzenbacher is a rookie and he’s listed as the 5th WR on Chicago’s depth chart, but don’t let any of that disguise his importance and potential impact on this team or on tonight’s game. It’s been described to me that Sanzenbacher now runs the pass routes that TE Greg Olsen used to run in this offense, and that’s an important point because Olsen had success against the Vikings during his Bears career. In 8 career games against the Vikings, Olsen had 31 receptions for 313 yards and 3 TDs. And over the last 2 seasons against the Vikings (4 games), Olsen never had fewer than 3 receptions in a game and he had 2 TDs. Sanzenbacher is not the same player as Olsen, obviously, but he can have a similar or greater impact if the Vikings don’t respect him and cover him up.


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