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.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was on the Vikings coaching staff from 1985-1989, and during that stretch became quite close with Bud Grant. Carroll would rarely make a move without consulting with Grant. They still confer on a regular basis.
One of the things that Carroll consulted with Grant on was the drafting of current Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, asking Grant whether Wilson, who is listed at 5-foot-10, could be an NFL quarterback.
Well if there was any doubt about the height problem, Grant reminded Carroll that a quarterback named Fran Tarkenton was 5-10 and he did pretty well.
Apparently that word from Grant relieved Carroll of any doubt about taking Wilson in the third round.
And what a pick that has been. Wilson continued his perfect record against Minnesota football teams with the Seahawks 41-20 win over the Vikings on Sunday. Wilson has now beaten the Vikings twice and the Gophers once, a 42-13 trouncing when he was at Wisconsin in 2011.
The Vikings got their first victory today by beating Pittsburgh 34-27 in a game that was a lot like the previous two weeks.
Only this time, the Vikings made a defensive stop at the end on a great play by Everson Griffen to end the game.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a pretty tough customer. He threw for 383 yards and it looked like he was going to tie the game on the final drive, but Griffen sacked him and Kevin Williams recovered to preserve the victory.
Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel didn't start out too well, but he completed his last 11 passes and didn't have any turnovers.
The big thing was, the Vikings got Jerome Felton back and he really helped Adrian Peterson return to his normal form.
One of the unsung heroes was Jerome Simpson, who was targeted 11 times and caught seven passes for 124 yards. He made a great play to rescue Cassel when Cassel fumbled the ball upfield. And Greg Jennings finally had a great game for the Vikings, with a 70-yard touchdown reception.
They got lucky at the end. They lost games to the Bears and Browns under similar circumstances.
With a week off, they can get some guys healthy.
As far as the quarterback situation goes, I don't think Ponder will be healthy enough to play against Carolina in two weeks. That broken rib isn't something that'll heal quickly and if they say it affects his heart, well, he's going to have to sit out.
But I think if he's healthy, they'll put him back in there. He didn't lose those games to the Bears and the Browns. The defense lost those games.
It is amazing how people have blown hot and cold on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.
Tom Brady will tell you that he is as good as his offensive line, and the Vikings offensive line has finally come around to a point where they are giving Ponder a chance to succeed.
Brandon Fusco, a second year right guard who was drafted after being a center at Slippery Rock, did a great job on Houston’s J.J. Watt, who is probably the most valuable defensive player in the league, on Sunday. Fusco did get a lot of help, but he has really developed this season.
In my opinion, John Sullivan is the best center in the NFC this year, and he should make the Pro Bowl.
Where would the Vikings be without rookie kicker Blair Walsh? He is another guy who should make the Pro Bowl. He might be the most valuable player on the team. He has an NFL-record nine field goals from 50 or more yards, and he tied a team record with his 56-yarder against the Texans.
The Vikings can make the playoffs with a victory against the Packers on Sunday, quite an achievement for a team that wasn’t supposed to win many games this year.
Adrian Peterson told me today that he will play in Sunday's game at Atlanta.
Peterson is wearing a walking boot on his left foot because of a Grade 1 ankle sprain, but he was not limping and said he would definitely be in the lineup against the Falcons.
"I still have some pain," Peterson said, "but I can play with pain."
Peterson said it in the presence of Coach Leslie Frazier, who didn't appear to disagree. Peterson indicated he would be able to practice by Friday, when the Vikings next hit the field.
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