The Patriots beat the Vikings on Sunday by turning three interceptions into 17 points. They had four interceptions in all off Matt Cassel to win 30-7 at TCF Bank Stadium.
Nobody expected that many interceptions, or that the Vikings would have a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown, or that Adrian Peterson’s absence would affect the team that much.
But one thing people did expect was that the Vikings’ schedule would make it hard for them to get off to a good start.
The Patriots were a better team. Now the Vikings have to play at New Orleans, which has unexpectedly lost its first two games and cannot afford to go 0-3. The Saints will be ready for the Vikings.
Then the Falcons come to town with a very good quarterback in Matt Ryan. The Vikings could win that home game, but it won’t be easy.
As for Game 5, the Vikings will not win at Green Bay. You can be assured of that.
The Lions are here in the sixth game, and new coach Jim Caldwell will have Detroit playing better than it has in the past.
So be prepared for some losses in the early part of the schedule, and a better record in the latter part of the schedule. If the Vikings can steal two or three wins in the first six games, they’ll have a good chance to contend for the playoffs.
The Vikings didn’t win a road game last season, and you have to go back to late 2012 when they last won away from home -- at St. Louis, where they won today 34-6, and at Houston.
The interesting thing in the victory Sunday was that everyone was expecting Adrian Peterson to run wild. He gained a total of 75 yards and his longest run was for 17 yards.
The biggest playmaker was Cordarrelle Patterson, who wound up with 102 yards and made an absolutely sensational 67-yard run, dodging several potential tacklers. It was the longest run by a Vikings receiver in team history, and it was the first time a receiver for the Vikings gained more than 100 yards on the ground in a game.
No doubt Mr. Zimmer and his staff have done a great job, and all the praise out of Winter Park was not propaganda. But the real test will come next week, when Bill Belichick, winner of three Super Bowls, and with another great Patriots team on hand, comes to Minnesota.
The Patriots are led by the great Tom Brady, who will test the Vikings pass defense and see if it can play as well as it did against St. Louis. Even though the Patriots lost on Sunday in Miami, they will be a force this season.
Next week -- that’s when we’ll find out how good this Vikings team is.
Mike Grant, who has coached Eden Prairie to nine Minnesota prep football titles, was named the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year this morning in New York City.
Grant, who was flown out for the Super Bowl to receive the award, also gets $10,000, and Eden Prairie High School gets $15,000.
This is a great honor for a longtime close, personal friend. And Shula and I have been good friends for just as many years.
Grant, 56, was nominated by the Vikings. The son of former Vikings coach Bud Grant, Mike is 241-24 with 16 conference titles in 22 seasons at Eden Prairie. He has won three consecutive state titles, and was profiled last summer in this Star Tribune article.
Shula, who coached Baltimore and Miami, is the winningest coach in NFL history. He headed the selection committee, which also includes former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt, former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, former Raiders coach John Madden and several other luminaries.
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