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Mark Craig

Reporter/Columnist | Vikings/NFL
phone: 612-673-7011
Mark Craig covers the NFL and the Vikings.
Recent content from Mark Craig
Craig: What's in Belichick's way? One nasty Falcons buzz saw

Craig: What's in Belichick's way? One nasty Falcons buzz saw

Even the Patriots, with the league's No. 1 scoring defense, will need every cranny of coach Bill Belichick's brain for the Patriots to snuff out high-scoring Atlanta.
Craig: Since '92 Super Bowl, NFL has turned on its head

Craig: Since '92 Super Bowl, NFL has turned on its head

Thursday is the 25th anniversary of the 26th Super Bowl, the only one to be held in Minnesota. But Super Bowl LII is fast approaching.
Changes in the NFL since 1992

Changes in the NFL since 1992

Take a trip down memory lane, since the last time Minneapolis hosted a Super Bowl
A predictably unpredictable formula for the 2018 NFL playoff field

A predictably unpredictable formula for the 2018 NFL playoff field

If history repeats itself, seeding-wise, a year from now we'll be looking at the Giants, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Chiefs as the final four teams.
Elite QB leading hot teams in NFL playoffs? We've seen this before

Elite QB leading hot teams in NFL playoffs? We've seen this before

We should be in for a treat Sunday, with four of the best QBs in the NFL playing for two spots in the Super Bowl.
Craig: Playoff kickers are nothing to mess (or miss) with

Craig: Playoff kickers are nothing to mess (or miss) with

Kickers are 33-for-33 in this year's playoffs and — look away, Vikings fans — 64-for-66 (.970) since Blair Walsh duck-hooked his 27-yarder last season against Seattle.
NFL playoff pressure tightens grip around contenders

NFL playoff pressure tightens grip around contenders

As we head into this weekend's NFL divisional playoff round, here are the hottest pressure points in the four games
Craig: Can NFL turn wild-card duds into divisional delights?

Craig: Can NFL turn wild-card duds into divisional delights?

Maybe the divisional round will offer some gripping competition, after a slate of sleepy letdowns.

Mark Craig's NFL playoff picks: Super Bowl LI has familiar feel

Find out who our NFL writer projects to make it to the Super Bowl.
With big payout from Vikings unlikely, new reality awaits Peterson

With big payout from Vikings unlikely, new reality awaits Peterson

Be it here or elsewhere, star running back Adrian Peterson faces a big pay cut for the 2017 season. "Sometimes, you're able to work things about with business and sometimes you're not," Peterson said.
Road to Houston: NFL playoffs bound to trip up anyone en route to Super Bowl LI

Road to Houston: NFL playoffs bound to trip up anyone en route to Super Bowl LI

There's a treacherous road between here and the Lombardi Trophy and it starts with the unpredictablity of wild card weekend.
NFL playoff field loaded with finishers, with two battling at Lambeau Field

NFL playoff field loaded with finishers, with two battling at Lambeau Field

The 12-team NFL playoff field, which begins postseason play with four wild-card games Saturday and Sunday, is littered with finishers sporting the kinds of brains Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he wants to pick
On the NFL: Peterson might want elite veteran treatment, but he has aging veteran status

On the NFL: Peterson might want elite veteran treatment, but he has aging veteran status

The running back has always defied the odds, but age is a relentless foe and will shape his future – with or without the Vikings.
Craig: Patterson hopes he's proven his worth to Vikings

Craig: Patterson hopes he's proven his worth to Vikings

Cordarrelle Patterson says not getting a fifth-year option didn't serve as any sort of motivation.
Thielen not worried about stats, happy to make blocks

Thielen not worried about stats, happy to make blocks

Five extra points from Sunday's Vikings-Bears game.
Lions' Matthew Stafford could be one comeback away from NFL MVP

Lions' Matthew Stafford could be one comeback away from NFL MVP

Leading the Lions to the NFC North title could put Matthew Stafford over the top.
Vikings' Hunter tipped expectation scales this season

Vikings' Hunter tipped expectation scales this season

Danielle Hunter's team-high 12 sacks rank third in the NFL behind Atlanta outside linebacker Vic Beasley (14½) and Denver outside linebacker Von Miller (13½).
Returning for more: Vikings' Patterson on verge of setting NFL record

Returning for more: Vikings' Patterson on verge of setting NFL record

No player has led the NFL in kickoff return average more than twice since 1942. That could change Sunday if the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson maintains his comfortable lead

Teddy Bridgewater says knee injury has helped him 'spiritually and mentally'

Teddy Bridgewater is the recipient of the team's Ed Block Courage Award.
Randy's return, roof collapse, Favre's finale: Vikings season isn't as odd as 2010

Randy's return, roof collapse, Favre's finale: Vikings season isn't as odd as 2010

You think 2016 has been a train wreck for the Vikings? 2010 has it beat - when the team, the coach and even the stadium collapsed.
On the NFL: Shaun Hill's legacy? He's lasted

On the NFL: Shaun Hill's legacy? He's lasted

Shaun Hill might be at the end of a career that was much longer than expected.

Mark Craig's Week 17 NFL power rankings

The Vikings have plummeted to 23rd -- one spot behind the Bills, who just fired their coach.
Craig: Vikings playoff hopes go poof thanks to Matthews

Craig: Vikings playoff hopes go poof thanks to Matthews

The game clock ticked down to 1 minute left in the second quarter when there was a feeling the Vikings might actually have a chance to upset the Packers. Enter Clay Matthews.
Five Extra Points: McCarthy regains control of series, Rodgers keeps foot on the pedal

Five Extra Points: McCarthy regains control of series, Rodgers keeps foot on the pedal

Thoughts about Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and more.
After undefeated start, offensive realities caught up with Vikings

After undefeated start, offensive realities caught up with Vikings

When the Vikings were 5-0, more than a quarter of their points were not scored by the offense. That pace simply couldn't be kept up.
A healthy Harrison Smith changes Vikings' outlook vs. Packers

A healthy Harrison Smith changes Vikings' outlook vs. Packers

The safety has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury, and he would be a boost for a Vikings team fighting to stay alive in the playoff race.
Peterson limps into Lambeau, possibly for final time as a Viking

Peterson limps into Lambeau, possibly for final time as a Viking

If Peterson plays, it might be his Green Bay farewell in purple.
Craig: Packers looked far, wide before Montgomery was go-to runner

Craig: Packers looked far, wide before Montgomery was go-to runner

Desperation turned Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery into a running back. Turns out he's good at it.

Mark Craig's Week 16 NFL power rankings

The Patriots continue to lead the league atop the rankings.
Vikings' linebacker Barr is playing more -- and producing less

Vikings' linebacker Barr is playing more -- and producing less

If you're one of those fans trying to figure out why Anthony Barr isn't playing like, well, Anthony Barr of late, you're not alone.
'We laid an egg.' Munnerlyn lets out frustrations after loss

'We laid an egg.' Munnerlyn lets out frustrations after loss

Mark Craig offers his five takeaways from Sunday's Vikings game
Craig: Peterson more of a burden than boost for Vikings vs. Colts

Craig: Peterson more of a burden than boost for Vikings vs. Colts

The Vikings, to their detriment, tried to force-feed Adrian Peterson carries and paid the price.
Colts' Gore has yet to be taken to the ground by Father Time

Colts' Gore has yet to be taken to the ground by Father Time

Gore, 33, will play in his 94th consecutive regular-season game and make his 90th straight start, both of which lead all NFL backs. He hasn't missed a game since the start of the 2011 season.
Zimmer tackles setbacks with grit, fresh perspective and sense of humor

Zimmer tackles setbacks with grit, fresh perspective and sense of humor

Zimmer isn't sure when, or if, strange things will stop happening to the Vikings. But he likes to note that through it all, they still have seven wins, one fewer than at this point last year.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith might be able to play Sunday

Vikings safety Harrison Smith might be able to play Sunday

Coach Mike Zimmer said reports of a season-ending ankle injury were exaggerated.
Craig: Defenses having their say in points-obsessed NFL

Craig: Defenses having their say in points-obsessed NFL

Some would suggest the 7-6 Packers would be a scary playoff opponent — if they sneak in — because of Aaron Rodgers and that offense. But let's shift to the other side of the ball.

Mark Craig's Week 15 NFL power rankings

The Giants' victory over the Cowboys on Sunday night now put New York at No. 3 and Dallas at No. 4 in the rankings.
For Zimmer, being tough is about walking the walk

For Zimmer, being tough is about walking the walk

"Since the day I walked in the building here, I've talked about toughness," Zimmer said Monday, the day after the Vikings extended the meaningfulness of their season with a 25-16 win at Jacksonville.
Barr lights up, Thielen snaps drought for Vikings

Barr lights up, Thielen snaps drought for Vikings

Five takeaways from Sunday's Vikings victory over Jacksonville.
Craig: McKinnon jukes and jabs, setting up huge Vikings moments

Craig: McKinnon jukes and jabs, setting up huge Vikings moments

Jerick McKinnon's valuable late-game yardage came when his team needed it most.
Plenty has changed since the last time Vikings played Jacksonville

Plenty has changed since the last time Vikings played Jacksonville

Among the changes, Blair Walsh is out and Kai Forbath is in at kicker.
Zimmer will coach from sidelines, wear special sunglasses

Zimmer will coach from sidelines, wear special sunglasses

Mike Zimmer's eye doctor asked the Vikings medical staff to try and persuade Zimmer to coach from the safety of the booth but gave Zimmer the option of being on the field. He opted for the latter.
Jaguars all about spirit of giving (turnovers) as they prepare for Vikings

Jaguars all about spirit of giving (turnovers) as they prepare for Vikings

The key matchup in Sunday's game isn't an individual battle but two teams at near-opposite ends of the league's most important statistic — turnovers.
Craig: As NFL players go, Thielen and Reed are (Mankato-style) Mavericks

Craig: As NFL players go, Thielen and Reed are (Mankato-style) Mavericks

It's true: Sunday's Vikings-Jaguars game in Jacksonville will feature twice as many former Minnesota State Mavericks as former Ohio State Buckeyes.
Health issues finally sacked NFL workaholic Mike Zimmer

Health issues finally sacked NFL workaholic Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer, like Jerry Kill, paid big for ignoring health issues.
Five extra points: Bradford's hits, Locke's struggles and a wrinkle in the run game

Five extra points: Bradford's hits, Locke's struggles and a wrinkle in the run game

Mark Craig offers his five takeaways from Thursday night's game against the Cowboys.
Craig: Robison's monster effort ruined, and refs don't help

Craig: Robison's monster effort ruined, and refs don't help

A four-play, 4-yard "drive" ruined what should have been defensive end Brian Robison's shining, season-saving moments Thursday night.
Craig: Cowboys owner Jones, Vikings inextricably linked

Craig: Cowboys owner Jones, Vikings inextricably linked

From the Herschel Walker trade to U.S. Bank Stadium, Jerry Jones and the Vikings have a connection.
Vikings looking to take advantage of the Dallas defense

Vikings looking to take advantage of the Dallas defense

The Dallas offense has sparked the team to a 10-1 record, but the Vikings will look to take advantage of the Cowboys' defense, which has been vulnerable.
Craig: Stafford is joining the comeback pack

Craig: Stafford is joining the comeback pack

Matthew Stafford is adding a special season to a strong history.
Five extra points: Interception aside, Vikings doomed by dumb penalties, bad match-ups

Five extra points: Interception aside, Vikings doomed by dumb penalties, bad match-ups

The Vikings had 54 yards rushing on the drive and had first-and-goal from the 10. But that's when left tackle T.J. Clemmings made a backside illegal chop block that was unnecessary on a Wildcat run to the right.
Vikings and Thanksgiving: 1969 snowstorm, Marshall parties, lasting memories

Vikings and Thanksgiving: 1969 snowstorm, Marshall parties, lasting memories

Historically, the Vikings have owned Detroit, including on Thanksgiving in 1969.
On the NFL: 'Thursday Night Football' is making league look bad

On the NFL: 'Thursday Night Football' is making league look bad

"Thursday Night Football" has delivered some real stinkers. And even the players are noticing that it does "kind of hurt the product."

Mark Craig's Week 12 NFL power rankings

The Seahawks, at 7-2-1, have slipped ahead of the 9-1 Cowboys in the rankings.
Vikings leaning on Diggs, regardless of cornerback Peterson's presence

Vikings leaning on Diggs, regardless of cornerback Peterson's presence

Diggs has 26 catches for 244 yards the past two weeks. Peterson, the fifth overall draft pick in 2011, has five Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro selections.
Craig: Cowboys are thriving where the Vikings are failing

Craig: Cowboys are thriving where the Vikings are failing

The Cowboys play a Dec. 1 Thursday nighter against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Rather than wait a few weeks, let's start the envying process right here and now.

Mark's Craig's NFL Power Rankings

The 5-4 Vikings have fallen to 20th after four consecutive losses.
Craig: Vikings' biggest shortcoming? Just getting a yard

Craig: Vikings' biggest shortcoming? Just getting a yard

The Vikings couldn't keep the lead Sunday because they couldn't convert their first two third-down situations of the second half. For the game, the Vikings had only 47 yards rushing on 21 carries.
Vikings have no idea how Walsh will respond

Vikings have no idea how Walsh will respond

The pressure of a three-game losing streak oozes from the Vikings, whose blueprint for success — winning close, low-scoring games — is threatened by an out-of-sync kicker.
Short and steady is Shurmur's philosophy for Vikings' offense

Short and steady is Shurmur's philosophy for Vikings' offense

Pat Shurmur is a West Coast disciple who learned the quick, rhythmic passing principles during a decade spent under Andy Reid in Philadelphia.
Pressure? Blair Walsh isn't feeling it

Pressure? Blair Walsh isn't feeling it

Asked if the team's kicker tryouts put even more pressure on him, Walsh said, "That's not how I look at it, no. I got to do my job and be dependable for my team. That's how I look at it."
On the NFL: Zimmer trying to pull Vikings out of NFC North tailspin

On the NFL: Zimmer trying to pull Vikings out of NFC North tailspin

The Vikings didn't boot the kicker. Nor should they scrap any division hopes.

Mark Craig's Week 10 NFL power rankings

The Patriots and Cowboys, each at 7-1, have risen to the top.
Five extra points: Vikings offense doesn't take time to dawdle

Five extra points: Vikings offense doesn't take time to dawdle

Takeaways from Sunday's loss to the Lions.
Craig: Vikings should know by now, Matthew Stafford is Mr. Clutch

Craig: Vikings should know by now, Matthew Stafford is Mr. Clutch

Had the Vikings consulted Matthew Stafford's résumé and respected the gunslinger's gigantic right arm, they wouldn't have started celebrating victory 23 seconds too soon.
Craig: Shurmur knows the seat is always hot for NFL coordinators

Craig: Shurmur knows the seat is always hot for NFL coordinators

Pat Shurmer's promotion to Vikings' offensive coordinator could mean he's one day closer to getting fired. Three coordinators have been let go this season already and Norv Turner stepped down.
'Tough day' sees Norv Turner move on from Vikings

'Tough day' sees Norv Turner move on from Vikings

"I think [the Vikings' Mike Zimmer] is as good a coach as I've been around," Turner said. "But it just got to the point where I didn't think it was going to work with me. So I removed myself."
Craig: This time, the Vikings defense was the culprit, too

Craig: This time, the Vikings defense was the culprit, too

Now the Vikings have problems on both sides of the ball as sloppy tackling and poor pursuit angles led to multiple big plays by the Bears. 'We were terrible defensively,' Harrison Smith said.
Mark Craig's Five Extra Points: Bad Bradford was just a start

Mark Craig's Five Extra Points: Bad Bradford was just a start

For whatever reason — perhaps heightened expectations? — quarterback Sam Bradford is regressing after opening his Vikings career with four victories and a 70.4 completion percentage.
Can 1-6 Bears match Eagles' blueprint and beat Vikings?

Can 1-6 Bears match Eagles' blueprint and beat Vikings?

The Eagles got results vs. Vikings by attacking quarterback Sam Bradford, but Vikings coaches say personnel is more of a yardstick than any game plan.
Craig: Loss to Eagles spurs Vikings to bounce back

Craig: Loss to Eagles spurs Vikings to bounce back

The Vikings' first loss of the season last week set off a jolt of distress and motivation.
Craig: Not just the Vikings ­­— overreactions run rampant in NFL

Craig: Not just the Vikings ­­— overreactions run rampant in NFL

Is there cause for concern? You bet. And it's as big as Jake Long, T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles rolled into one giant Triangle of Pain for Sam Bradford.

Mark Craig's NFL Power Rankings

The Vikings take a fall - but how far?
On the NFL: Short-yardage failures anger Vikings guard Boone

On the NFL: Short-yardage failures anger Vikings guard Boone

"We needed a couple of inches and we get stopped?" Vikings left guard Alex Boone said. "It doesn't matter if they knew what we were going to do. It's a couple of inches. That's where I lost my cool."
Mark Craig's Five Extra Points

Mark Craig's Five Extra Points

You know things aren't going the Vikings' way when punt returner Marcus Sherels, the team's most consistent performer, messes up and puts the ball on the ground.
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