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Vikings War Cry


November 14, 2012 7:36 PM

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Adrian struts into end zone.jpeg
As the Minnesota Vikings completed their season sweep of the Detroit Lions with a convincing 34-24 victory on Sunday, it seemed as though the calender had suddenly rolled back into September. Back in form again was the same Vikings squad that was so impressive in the first month of the season. Unfortunately for the Lions, they saw the good Vikings on both of their meetings, not the Viking imposters who showed up for four of the five games between their two contests.

Gone was the Vikings squad that donned those same purple uniforms over the previous four games, but who in no way, shape or form resembled the team who once stood atop the NFC North Division with a 4-1 record. On this past Sunday, one should have forgiven the Lions if they were surprised to see a Vikings team protect its quarterback as he picked apart the Lions secondary. One should have also forgiven the Lions if they were surprised to see a Vikings defense shut down their running game and force two turnovers while the Vikings offense committed none. After all, the Vikings had not played that way for an entire month.

As Vikings fans watched the game, one obvious question must have been burning in common, "Hey! Where have you guys been?"

One more pitiful performance and the Vikings were going to drop to .500 for the first time since they were 1-1. One more pitiful performance and the Vikings were going to fall into last place for the first time all year. One more pitiful performance and any realistic hopes of a shot at the playoffs this season would have taken a major jolt. One more pitiful performance, and the shouts for a quarterback change would have become thunderous.

Yes, the "September" Vikings returned just in a nick of time, as if someone flipped the 'ole proverbial switch. Not only was the performance a potentially season-saving one - because the team has now positioned itself for a playoff push down the season's final stretch run - but the Vikings may have also discovered something about themselves.

If the Vikings will open up their offense, there are plenty of players capable of making plays.

With Percy Harvin having to miss the critical game because of an ankle injury, the Vikings could no longer rely on him to carry the receiving load. The team in recent weeks had become very predictable in its passing attack (to the extent it could be labeled an attack) because Christian Ponder threw bubble screens to Harvin about as much as he attempted any other pass to any other receiver. On Sunday, Ponder completed passes to nine different Vikings receivers not named Harvin or Ponder.

That's right, Ponder!

The quarterback actually completed one pass to himself, making himself the 10th different Viking to catch one of his passes on the day. Unfortunately the result of a batted ball coming back to himself wound up a 15-yard loss, instead of a three-yard touchdown reception as was the case with former Viking, Brad Johnson, when he caught his own batted pass in 1997.

Nonetheless, with Ponder regaining his confidence and the Vikings showing an ability to spread the ball around in the air, when Harvin does return, the passing offense can now be a more balanced one.

Two bright spots all season long have been rookie Blair Walsh, who continues to be one of the top place-kickers in the league, and Adrian Peterson who continues to run the NFL ragged. After his 171-yard, 6.3 yards-per-carry performance, capped by the explosive 61-yard touchdown run, Peterson has now eclipsed his own teammate Harvin as a leading NFL, MVP candidate.

If the Viking team that showed up Sunday can remain in place for the rest of the season, the sky is the limit as to how far it can go. The Lions were a red-hot team having won three of their previous four games, but on Sunday the Vikings were the superior team on the field, even without the most versatile playmaker in football suited up to play.

The final six games for the Vikings pose, what are probably the most difficult six games left for anyone. If the good Vikings do not disappear again, they are fully capable of knocking off some of the league's premier teams. In order to play into January, that is exactly what the Vikings are going to have to do.
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