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.
I thought the Vikings had hit the all-time high for blowing leads in losing in the last minutes to the Bears, the Browns and the Cowboys, and letting the Packers tie them late.
Sunday’s game at Baltimore was probably harder to take than the others because the Vikings scored two touchdowns in the final minutes, taking the lead both times. But a very questionable interference call helped the Ravens pull a miracle and win the game in the final seconds, 29-25.
The Vikings' record today is 3-9-1. With a decent defense they could be 8-5, with a good chance to win the NFC North and make the playoffs.
Personally, I think coach Leslie Frazier will return for his final year of his contract next year and won’t become one of three coaches fired by the Wilfs in eight years.
Rest assured, however, there will be some changes in the defensive staff, with both coaches and players.
If you are looking for something positive about today’s game it was the performance of Cordarrelle Patterson, who had 141 receiving yards and also had a great day returning kicks. He has proven to be worth the player he replaced, Percy Harvin. And the player the Vikings got in the draft with Seattle’s pick, obtained in the Harvin deal, has also been very good – that’s cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
In fact, a lot of people think Harvin’s hip injury is worse than he claims.
And if you want my opinion of the quarterback position, you couldn’t judge Matt Cassel today with the snowy field and wet weather, but I thought he did a decent job considering the handicap he was under.
And the loss means the Vikings will get a higher draft choice. They have three games left – Philadelphia and Detroit here, and Cincinnati on the road. They should be the Eagles, but the other two games will be tough ones.
The team has 13 free agents and a lot of holes to fill.
Rob Brzezinski, who negotiates the contracts for the Vikings, has a real challenge if he wants to keep players like Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and Toby Gerhart here. Today’s game showed how valuable Gerhart can be when Adrian Peterson gets injured, which is likely to happen more as Peterson gets older. Gerhart will probably get a chance to improve his market value in the next three games, too, as Peterson might not play.
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