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Monday (A very strange 24-point Vikings victory) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: October 10, 2011 - 9:07 AM

If the Vikings can have Adrian Peterson in full Beast Mode like they did Sunday ... and can get that kind of consistent quarterback pressure ... and can win the turnover battle ... and can jump out to such a huge lead even they can't blow it ... and can always face an opposing quarterback who throws every pass like he's trying to knock over all the wooden milk jugs at the county fair ... then it won't matter if Donovan McNabb or Christian Ponder is the starting quarterback.

As we know, though, most Sundays weren't like this past Sunday. We had a feeling Arizona was terrible and the Vikings would win big, which came to fruition. As colleague Chip Scoggins points out, though, it often felt like the victory came in spite of Donovan McNabb, not because of him.

The Vikings were ahead 14-0 before he had completed a pass (though he tried to complete a couple to Arizona in that span). He had two completions by the time it was 28-0. (In fairness: He ran for a TD).

By and large, though, the Vikings' strengths Sunday were the same ones we have seen this season: Peterson, the defensive ends (Jared Allen, with 8.5 sacks in 5 games, is easily on pace to destroy Michael Strahan's single-season sack record of 22.5) and underrated special teams. They added turnovers to the mix, received what seemed to be better pass protection from the offensive line and sustained those good things for a long enough stretch to lock the game down instead of giving it away. The passing game, though, is often still frightful. McNabb is still the chief culprit, which made for a conflicting Sunday of viewing.

The final numbers, as usual, were not horrendous. McNabb didn't turn the ball over. Indeed, the Vikings have only turned the ball over four times in five games. Their +3 turnover differential is fourth in the NFC, behind three teams that have a combined one loss (Green Bay, Detroit and San Francisco). McNabb has just two INTs in five games, which should feel like such a welcome change from the hold-your-breath 2010 season of Brett Favre or the T-Jack jump pass era.

With McNabb, though, we're starting to feel like the numbers never add up. He had 169 yards passing, but 60 came on a catch-and-run from Devin Aromashodu after a slippery McNabb pass over the middle that looked more like a punt.

If Leslie Frazier is still sticking with McNabb because he feels the veteran QB will stabilize and start playing at a higher level, we can grudgingly accept it even if the coach has more faith than we do. If he's sticking with McNabb because Ponder isn't ready yet, we can also grudgingly accept it as well (even though it worries us on a different level. Not saying a rookie should be great after five NFL games, but if Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are at least deemed capable of starting, it stands to reason Ponder should be, too).

So while it was great to see Peterson go off (and step up as a leader) and it was great to see the defense play its best all-around game off the season (and maybe since 2009), the Vikings don't get to play the Cardinals every week. They're going to need their QB to make plays when it counts, and they are no closer to solving that problem today than they were as an 0-4 team.

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