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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Greg Jennings caught 11 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Which is one way to prove that he hasn't entered the witness protection program.
The Eagles were hot, and had desirable matchups all over the field against the injury-riddled Vikings, and yet the Vikings won, 48-30, on Sunday at the Metrodome.
It's remarkable how differently the Vikings function with Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Christian Ponder. With Casel in the pocket, the Vikings' receivers look more than good enough. Unlike Ponder, Cassel doesn't rely on tight ends, or a strong running game, for production.
The Eagles are not a good defensive team, but their offense has been dynamic with Nick Foles at quarterback. Sunday, the Vikings not only won without their top two running backs and top two tight ends, they won without their top three cornerbacks.
If the Vikings' braintrust was intent on firing Leslie frazier and dumping all of their quarterbacks, this game might cause a little reconsideration. Frazier has had the Vikings playing hard all season. With better cornerback play and a better defensive coordinator, they might be in contention. And when Frazier has the benefit of decent quarterback play, the offense is good enough to win.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m., and on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow to talk Vikings.
My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
How crazy was the Vikings' 23-20, overtime victory over the Bears?
Blair Walsh won the game twice. The first game-winning kick in overtime was wiped out by Rhett Ellison's facemask penalty.
Walsh wound up trying three field goals in the overtime, and the second wasfted through the smoke from the celebratory fireworks after his first attempt, and fell short.
What will be remembered is that Adrian Peterson had one of the best games of his career. Amid the chaos, he rushed 35 times for 211 yards, and his running set up the game-winning field goal.
Peterson reached for 10,000 yards in his 101st NFL game. Only two backs have reached 10,000 faster - Eric Dickerson in 91 games, and Jim Brown in 98.
It was a relatively meaningless game between two bad teams, eventually involving two backup quarterbacks once Christian Ponder left with a concussion, and yet it was still a spectacle.
Peterson ran wild. And Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery set a Bears record with 249 receiving yards, twice beating Chris Cook deep. After the second touchdown catch, an amazing play on which Jeffery caught the ball over Cook's head and held it there as he fell into the end zone, Cook, angered by a previous call, bumped an official and was ejected.
He missed some good stuff, particularly Peterson's wild, stop-and-start 19-yard gain on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
That play seemed to set the Vikings, then trailing 20-17, up to at least tie the score. But backup quarterback Matt Cassel's pass to Rhett Ellison caromed off Ellison, then a Bear or two before it was intercepted.
I'm hoping Leslie Frazier is ready to give up on Ponder. He can play Cassel if he wants to win, or management can force him to play Josh Freeman if they want to play for a high draft pick. Expect the former.
NFL games shouldn't end in ties.
Enough about that.
If you, like me, are watching Vikings games more to discern what next year's team will look like than what this year's final record will look like, there were a few interesting developments on Sunday, in the Vikings' 26-26 tie with the Packers.
Here are two key developments:
-Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the 29th pick in this year's draft, was credited with four passes defensed, of the Vikings' nine total. He aquitted himself well against a pretty good group of receivers, and saved a touchdown by knocking the ball from the hands of James Jones.
He also injured his leg and returned to the field, a promising sign of toughness.
-Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson finally - finally! - looked like a big part of the offense. He had 11 passes thrown his way. He caught a eight. Both totals were team-highs.
He gained 54 yards. He returned the opening kickoff 57 yards. That return caused the Packers to kick the ball out of bounds while trying to keep the ball away from him on a subsequent kickoff.
Patterson could have had a much bigger day. He was unable to hold onto a long pass down the left sideline, and he had the ball bounce out of his hands in the end zone after it was tipped on the Vikings' first drive of overtime.
Patterson said he should have caught that pass.
I've been saying all season that Patterson should be a bigger part of the offense. He's too talented to leave on the sideline. He can catch short passes and turn them into long gains, and he should be able to take the occasional handoff or reverse, like Percy Harvin used to do.
He should be the Vikings' featured receiver the rest of the season.
-Aaron Rodgers is probably wishing he could ask for a raise.
The Packers have lost four straight since he was injured, and have tried three other quarterbacks. Without him, the Packers' receivers are less productive, the offensive line looks worse (because the ball doesn't leave the pocket as quickly) and the defense looks shoddier (because the offense doesn't sustain as many drives or create leads.)
And it's no longer too early to say that Greg Jennings made a dire mistake by leaving the Packers and Rodgers. Jennings caught two passes for 29 yards in five quarters on Sunday, and dropped a key third-down pass.
It's almost as if Jennings is so embarrassed by his decision to leave Green Bay that he's gone into a shell.
-Chrisitan Ponder amazes me. I've never before covered a quarterback whose performances could look so different on the field and on paper.
Watching him today, I thought Ponder had terrible pocket awareness, threw a potential pick-six that was dropped, was too eager to pull the ball down and run or scramble. Then I look at the stat sheet and he was 21-for-30 with a touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 103.9.
There are a lot of modern statistics that offer great insights into the games we watch. There are also statistics that contradict eyesight and common sense.
I was more impressed with the Gophers' loss to the Badgers than any of their victories this season.
They stood up physically against a program built on tough, physical play. And while Phil Nelson did not have a good game, I have to believe the cold affected his accuracy and touch. His receivers dropped a handful of key passes, and when he missed ,he often missed by a wide margin. He's better than that.
Had a friend today tell me an interesting story: That last year, Jerry Kill was coaching on the sideline, and he dropped to one knee to look at a play chart. A half-dozen Gophers coaches and officials rushed to him, thinking he was having a seizure.
Kill said at that point that he needed to coach from the press box, so he wouldn't be a distraction.
It will be very interesting to see whether Kill stays in the press box the rest of this year, and for the rest of his career. He's found something that works - Tracy Claeys running the sideline, and Kill seeing the big picture from upstairs, rather than arguing with officials.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15, and on 1500ESPN at noon for my regular weekday hit with Judd&Dubay. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Green Bay _ There is a simple way to look at the Vikings' overtime loss at Lambeau on Sunday.
When they were lucky enough to play against Scott Tolzein, they dominated, and enjoyed having the superior quarterback.
When they were forced to face a career NFL backup with some level of cmopetence, their defense collapsed.
The result was a cmopletely unsatisfying result for both sides: A 26-26 tie that reminded the Vikings of all their flaws.
If you liked dynamic running, the game was a treat all along. Eddie Lacy broke seemingly dozens of tackles on his way to a monster game, and Adrian Peterson showed little signs of being slowed by his nagging groin injury.
Peterson rushed 32 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. Lacy rushed 25 times for 110 yards and a touchdown, and caught six passes for 48 yards.
The Vikings gave up the game's first score, on a wild scramble by Tolzein, then scored the next 23 points.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy brought in Matt Flynn, the fourth quarterback the Packers have used this month, marking the first time they've used four quarterbacks in a season since 1995.
Flynn immediately sparked the Packers, throwing with more accuracy and rhythm than Tolzein, and the Packers tied the score on a field goal with :46 seconds remaining.
The Packers won the coin flip and took the overtime kickoff. They drove for a feld goal.
The Vikings kicked their own after Toby Gerhart filled in admirably for Peterson.
With Jacksonville and Tampa Bay winning on Sunday, the Vikings are now a half-game better than the teams with the worst records in football. Jacksonville, Houston and Atlanta are 2-9.
Could a tie against the Packers keep the Vikings from the first pick in the draft?
There are rational reasons for starting Christian Ponder on Sunday.
I'm just not sure the Vikings are employing any of them.
Here are possible behind-the-scenes explanations for starting Ponder, or at least not starting Josh Freeman:
1. If Freeman has looked lost in practice. It would be hard for an NFL head coach to believe that a quarterback who has trouble running the offense or completing passes in practice would be able to do so in games, especially on the road.
2. The Vikings have decided to tank the rest of the season to obtain the highest possible draft choices. I could see the front office wishing for this outcome, but Leslie Frazier is incapable of trying to lose a game. A coach would tank only if he was assured of coming back next year, and there's no way the Vikings can be making assurances to their head coach given the ineptitude of this team.
3. The Vikings' offensive coaches don't know what they're doing.
Starting Freeman is the most logical decision, but if he's not ready to start, then it's tough to figure out why the Vikings wouldn't start Matt Cassel. Cassel has given the Vikings their best-quarterbacked game of the season, against Pittsburgh, and would give them their best chance to win on Sunday at Green Bay.
I can't think of a good reason for starting Ponder. Worse, the feeling in the Vikings' lockerroom is that starting Ponder is an embarrassment.
Frazier has done much to build trust and respect in the Vikings' lockerroom. He's sabotating his credibility by starting Ponder when everyone knows Ponder's career is effectively over in Minnesota.
For all of their problems, the Vikings have continued to play hard even as their season has slipped away. It's tough to put your body on the line when your bosses keep handling the most important position on the team so poorly.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd&Dubay to discuss this, the Wolves, the Wild, and the Gophers.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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