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Souhan blog: Breaking down the loss

  • Blog Post by: Jim Souhan
  • October 14, 2012 - 8:57 PM

I wrote about Robert Griffin III, and the Vikings' view of him, for the Monday paper.

I could have written about Christian Ponder's struggles and Bill Musgraves' red-zone calls.

I've given Musgrave lots of credit this year for finding clever ways to run an offense dependent on Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. I've given him credit for helping Ponder look far improved from last year. But Musgrave has a flaw, and it's red-zone common sense.

Too often, as was the case on Sunday, he takes his best players off the field and goes away from his team's strengths near the goalline. Harvin and Peterson should be on the field, even if only as decoys. And Musgrave shouldn't abandon power running and quick hits to Harvin.

As for Ponder, he threw a lot of pitches that even Jim Joyce wouldn't have called strikes. He didn't blame the swirling wind in the stadium - Ponder isn't the kind of guy who makes excuses - but if it wasn't the wind, he merely had a lousy game.

Losing on the road to Washington is no shame, but it does increase the importance of the upcoming homestand. The Vikings will face Arizona and Tampa Bay in a five-day stretch. Sweep, and the Vikings are 6-2 at the break. Lose both, and they're 4-4 with the more difficult half of the schedule remaining.

One thing I marvel at when watching the Vikings live is how hard Harvin and Peterson run, and how often they're hurting when they go to the sideline. Both left, limping, at times on Sunday, and once Peterson went to the sideline shaking his head, then removing his helmet. I don't know if they can last the entire season taking the pounding they are required to take in this offense.

This team has to pray that Jerome Simpson can shake off his back problems. They need a downfield threat, especially when they fall behind. Simpson is the only player they have other than Harvin who can scare safeties.

-Mike Shanahan earned his 168th NFL victory, including playoffs. That ties him with Bud Grant for 14th on the all-time list.

-Griffin's 13 rushes was a career-high, and it came a week after he suffered a concussion.

-His 138 yards rushing marked a franchise record by a quarterback, breaking his record set in Week 2 of 84.

-The total was the fifth-most in a game by an NFL quarterback.

 

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