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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Posts about Vikings defense

Quick postgame reaction: Jennings goes nuts

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 15, 2013 - 3:25 PM

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.

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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.

Amazing loss

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 8, 2013 - 3:32 PM

I'm not sure I've ever seen a finishing flurry quite like the one in the Vikings' 29-25 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

It's remarkable how hard the Vikings hsve played in the weeks since it seemed their season was doomed. What I'll explore in my Monday column is why it took so long for this coaching staff to put its best players on the field. With Matt Cassel at quarterback, Cordarrelle Patterson starting at receiver and Xavier Rhodes starting at corner, this is a competent team, a team that could be at or near .500 and theoretically in the playoff race if those players had started earlier this season.

This was a Vikings team that made all those dramatic plays with its backup quarterback, backup running back, and a lot of backup defenders on the field.

We'll have extensive coverage in the Monday paper and on startribune.com, complete with videos.

We'll also update Adrian Peterson's health as soon as possible after the game, Indications now are that he has a sprained ankle and nothing more. It will be interesting to see whether Leslie Frazier plays him next week, or lets Toby Gerhart have a start.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

Two bad teams give us a spectacle

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 1, 2013 - 3:49 PM

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.

Vikings blow one in Green Bay, still tie

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 24, 2013 - 3:59 PM

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?

Vikings...win?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 7, 2013 - 10:31 PM

For the second time in three seasons, the Vikings staged a comeback to beat Washington, earning a victory that damaged their draft position.

In 2011, the Vikings’ victory at Washington cost them a chance to draft Robert Griffin III. Thursday, their second-half pass rush beat up Griffin, enabling the Vikings to pull out a 34-27 victory at the Metrodome.

Someday, the Vikings may regret this. Thursday night, just like Christmas Eve 2011, the Vikings ignored what might be best for the franchise and won in impressive fashion.

Christian Ponder played his best game of the season before leaving with a left shoulder injury. Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns. John Carlson ably replaced Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph. And Kevin Williams recorded 2 ½ sacks – his first two-sack game since 2009 – to help the Vikings’ defense dominate the last 25 minutes of the game.

It was a strange, surprising, and maybe costly victory.         

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