Jerry Holt, Star Tribune
Sid Hartman: Birk: One victory doesn't make a whole season
- Article by: Sid Hartman
- Star Tribune
- November 8, 2007 - 8:52 PM
Matt Birk, in his 10th season with the Vikings, downplayed the significance of Sunday's 35-17 victory over San Diego, other than noting how important it was for a team that entered the day 2-5.
"It's just one game," said Birk, a five-time Pro Bowl center. "Part of professional football is you've got to deal with success and failure.
"I've always said, it's a week-to-week deal. Last week had no bearing on what happened this [past] week and this week has no bearing on next week. We just came out Sunday and I mean everybody, everybody just executed well, and our playmakers made plays."
On the great success of Adrian Peterson, who ran for an NFL-record 296 yards against the Chargers, Birk said: "He's just a special kind of player, a special kind of kid. The best thing is that he works extremely hard, and you like to see people that work hard have success."
Birk played with Robert Smith back when the Vikings were having more success than they are now. Comparing the two backs, Birk said: "They're both similar in the fact that they both have great speed. Especially when you get them to the outside, and that's our goal as an O-line, cover those guys up, get Adrian on the edge and then just let him do what he does."
Birk isn't one to take credit, but coaches said his strong blocking has played a key role in helping Peterson put up his NFL-high 1,036 rushing yards.
One person who doesn't question the ability of Vikings quarterback Brooks Bollinger is Packers right tackle Mark Tauscher, who was a senior at Wisconsin in 1999 when Bollinger, then a redshirt freshman, became the Badgers' starter five games in and led the team to its second consecutive Rose Bowl victory.
The Badgers were 2-2, having lost back-to-back games to Cincinnati and Michigan, when Bollinger started for the injured Scott Kavanagh at No. 12 Ohio State. They fell behind the Buckeyes 17-0, then ran off 42 unanswered points in the last three quarters for a 42-17 victory in Columbus.
The Badgers didn't lose again the rest of the season, including a 20-17 overtime victory over the Gophers at the Metrodome the following week and a 17-9 victory over Stanford at the Rose Bowl.
Tauscher, now in his eighth season as a Packers starter, recalled Bollinger's first game this week to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I just remember he stepped in when we had lost two really tough games, and we had to go to Ohio State," Tauscher said. "We were a senior-laden team, and here's a redshirt freshman coming in, and he just brought a different dynamic to the huddle. He was incredibly mobile, and I really felt like coming in right off the get-go, he was a great leader."
No doubt Vikings players have the same confidence in Bollinger. He proved what he could do Sunday when given the opportunity, leading the Vikings to victory over the Chargers -- of course with plenty of help.
He started nine games for the Jets in 2005 and hasn't started since. He might get a chance Sunday at Green Bay if Tarvaris Jackson isn't ready. Vikings coach Brad Childress and offensive line coach Jim Hueber were at Wisconsin when Bollinger was there, so they know what he can do.
Running back Mewelde Moore will be a free agent after the season. The Vikings had a chance to ship him to Tampa Bay before the trade deadline but instead opted to keep the 2004 fourth-round pick.
Moore has had his moments with the Vikings, including a 122-yard rushing day in a 20-17 victory at Green Bay in 2005. This year, he has only 10 carries for 71 yards and has been inactive for three games, but he said he is happy to see Peterson and Chester Taylor get the carries while his contribution is limited to punt returns.
In the fourth quarter Sunday, Moore had a 42-yard punt return to the Chargers 46-yard line; Peterson ran it in for a touchdown on the next play.
"[I] have a chance to make a play in a key situation of the game, and we capitalized on it, and it just feels all the more good," Moore said.
On Peterson, he said: "Right now he's the best in the league, and he's doing it week in and week out. ... He just keeps putting it on tape and making it happen, giving us a chance to win ballgames."
You won't hear Moore complain, even though he was the Vikings' leading rusher two years ago. "I love playing football, and I enjoy it. I'm happy to be here," he said.
Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Peterson and Taylor: "They're a pretty good tandem. I mean obviously Adrian is a very special talent, but you can't forget what Chester did for us last year and he has just as much talent, just different skill levels." ... Said Peterson of his success: "I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. God truly blessed me and those guys up front are doing a great job, so if I can continue working hard during the week, anything is possible on Sunday."
Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi certainly is a unique individual. His office is newly furnished, and he paid for every piece of furniture out of his own pocket.
Former Gophers defensive end Greg White, who has played in Canada, Europe and the Arena League ever since he was drafted in the seventh round by Houston in 2002, finally made it to the NFL this year with Tampa Bay at age 28. In seven games, White has 12 tackles, including 2½ sacks. Among White's Buccaneers teammates is linebacker Barrett Ruud, the cousin of the Gophers' Tony and Andy Brinkhaus. ... Ex-Gophers star Marion Barber III, who tied for the NFC lead with 16 touchdowns last year for Dallas, has seven this season, two behind conference leader Peterson.
Legendary groundskeeper George Toma, who has been taking care of the Vikings' practice fields, spent his last day here before going to Notre Dame to improve the Irish's field. He will then head to Glendale, Ariz., to prepare the field for Super Bowl XLII.
Ex-Gophers basketball standout Vincent Grier is averaging 16 points per game for BCM Gravelines Dunkirk in France. ... Former Orono athlete Jon Leuer, a freshman forward at Wisconsin, scored 15 points in 15 minutes in the Badgers' exhibition opener against Edgewood College and then only one point in 15 minutes Wednesday vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
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