Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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The Vikings offered a complete NFL experience on Sunday. They entered a game as severe underdogs, took a commanding lead, then gave it away, finally falling after giving up a late field goal and throwing incomplete on fourth-and-five at the two-minute warning.
They lost to the Detroit Lions, 16-14. If you like moral victories, this was one of the better ones of the season.
Teddy Bridgewater played almost flawlessly. It was the ``almost’’ that cost the Vikings the game.
He threw interceptions on two consecutive passes in the first half, turning a 14-0 lead that accurately indicated the Vikings’ dominance into a 14-10 lead at the half. He also missed a wide-open Jarius Wright on the last drive of the game, needing about 35 yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal.
With the Vikings’ defense playing well against Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, Bridgewater again looked almost flawless in the second half. But with no running game to speak of, and kicker Blair Walsh missing one long attempt, and having a short one blocked, the Lions eventually wore down the Vikings and won it with a late field goal.
A victory for the Vikings would have been their first against a good team this season, and their first in the division. They need to beat Chicago in the last regular season game to avoid going winless in the NFC North.
Bridgewater was remarkably accurate on almost all of his throws. His bad throws cost him, and his team. That’s life as an NFL quarterback.
We'll have complete coverage of the game later tonight on Startribune.com, and in the Monday paper. (Buy the paper - you get to see Jerry Holt's great photos.)
My latest podcasts, including those with Jarius Wright and Chad Greenway, are up at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes calls Lions star Calvin Johnson the toughest receiver he has to face.
``He broke Jerry Rice's record, didn't he?'' Rhodes said. ``Anybody else do that?''
Rhodes pick for his second-toughest receiver to face might surprise you. Or not, if you pay attention to the NFC North.
``Jordy Nelson is the next-toughest guy I've faced,'' Rhodes said. ``The way he reacts to the ball, the way he runs his routes, the way you can tell that he's studied so much film, looking for an edge. That makes him very tough.''
After reading Mark Craig's cool piece on Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson in today's Strib, and hearing Vikings coach Mike Zimmer continue to hope aloud that Patterson will become a great receiver, it's pretty evident that Patterson hasn't or doesn't know how to apply himself.
With his size, speed and talent, Patterson doesn't have to become a latter-day Jerry Rice in terms of route running, or a latter-day Cris Carter in terms of competing for the ball. He just has to become a reliable and competitive route-runner.
You wonder whether he has that nasty compettive streak that other great receivers have.
Rice once told Bill Walsh to run a sweep on the first play of a playoff game, so Rice could start the game by flattening the corner assigned to him. Carter became one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever met.
Patterson seems like a nice guy who doesn't understand what it takes to be great.
It's interesting that Zimmer has taken a positive approach with him, while pushing harder with other young players. It's almost an admission that pushing Patterson might not do much good.
Did a short video with Michael Rand, speaking about Zimmer's work this year. Should be up on startribune.com shortly.
Today's podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. Tonight's will stream live on that website at 5 p.m. from Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. My guest is Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris, who is playing Thursday night at the Cedar Avenue Cultural Center with Haley Bonar. We'll do an hour of music and conversation, mixing in a little sports talk. Please stop by and say hello.
Previous podcasts on the site feature Chad Greenway, Mike Grant, Mark Craig, Glen Perkins, Craig Leipold, Russo, Paul Molitor and Ross Bernstein.
By Jim Souhan
In sports, you always have to grade on a curve.
An NFL team improving to 6-7 with a victory at home over a two-win team? Not impressive.
An NFL team without its star running back, playing a rookie quarterback, with its most talented defensive rookie out winning at a juncture of the season when some losing teams lose interest? Not bad.
When you factor in that two recent and talented first-round draft picks – left tackle Matt Kalil and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson – have become, respectively, abominable and invisible, what rookie head coach Mike Zimmer is doing is fairly impressive.
I picked the Vikings to go 8-8 when I expected Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Patterson to have big years. Without much production from those three, the Vikings are one game below .500.
They beat the Jets, in overtime, on Sunday, without much of a running game, with the offensive line looking leaky, and without a lot of high-end talent available.
Bridgewater made winning plays, and that’s the best thing that can happen to this franchsie – the quarterback inspiring belief.
If you’re willing to grade on a curve, that’s pretty good.
Latest podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is up, featuring Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on his career goals, and his new thoughts on Mike Zimmer.
I wrote about Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway in today's paper.
The most interesting aspect of the interview that I didn't include in the column is this:
Greenway said new coach Mike Zimmer is far different than he expected when it comes to the treatment of players.
Asked to finish the sentence, ``I was wrong about...'', Greenway laughed and said, ``I was wrong about the way that coach Zimmer would handle us as players. He handles us as professionals. He gives us breaks when he knows we need them. He's really been good at that. I thought he'd be harder....
``He loves football and loves coaching. He understands his team and when to pull off. He's been phenomenal about that.''
I asked Greenway about being a public figure, jokingly asking if he has ever knocked a fan's hat off.
``You try to keep yourself private from the fokls who might be crazed about being a fan or might be upset about the way a game went, or about how you’re playing,'' he said. ``You try to keep yourself distant from those folks because you don’t want your family to have to deal with that...
``I think just based on the way you go about your business, you set yourself up…Even though they may not appreciate the way you play, you try to set yourself up to be treated a certain way in public. When you act a certain wa you receive a certain amount of respect.
``If you’re a jerk and actin ga certain way in pubcli you’re giogn to be treated that way. I've never done that. It's important when you are a guy who’s active in the community and your face is on TV - whether or not you want to be a role model, you're going to be treated that way because kids see you on TV.''
Today's column quotes Greenway on his hopes and plans for the rest of his career.
My last two podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com are with Twins closer Glen Perkins and Greenway.
Perkins talked about learning to brew his own beer, being a lifelong Minnesotan and why I'm wrong about Kevin Slowey.
Greenway spoke of his love of country music, and how his life has changed since he arrived as a rookie. He expounded on his thoughts on Mike Zimmer.
Next Wednesday at 5 p.m. I'll be at Kieran's Irish Pub with Gary Louris, the frontman for the great band The Jayhawks, who is playing on Dec. 11 at the Cedar Cultural Center. The following Wednesday, Dec. 17, I'll be back at The Local at 5 p.m. with Roy Smalley, my favorite baseball storyteller, as my guest.
All the podcasts, including previous versions with Wild owner Craig Leipold, Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant and Paul Molitor, can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
In this Sunday's paper, I'm writing about the obvious landing spot for Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings beat the Panthers, 31-13, on Sunday largely on the strength of two blocked punts returned for touchdowns.
The more interesting stories involved key young offensive players.
Teddy Bridgewater for once was sharp from the start, leading the Vikings on an opening-drive touchdown that concluded with a scoring strike to Kyle Rudolph.
Cordarrelle Patterson barely played on offense in the first half, and dropped the only pass thrown his way. He appeared to give up on at least one route. He was healthy enough t oreturn kickoffs, but didn't attempt to field kickoffs deep into the end zone, which is unusual for him.
On a day when the Vikings' offense, defense and special teams all thrived, perhaps the most talented athlete on the roster was nearly invisible.
I'll be asking questions about that in the postgame lockerroom, and that will probably be the subject of my column tomorrow.
New podcasts up at Souhanunfiltered.com with Kevin Seifert and Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, to go with earlier conversations with Paul Molitor, Mark Craig, Michael Russo and Ross Bernstein.
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