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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My column deals with the details of the whipping the Vikings took on Thursday night.
Here, I"ll address a few other topics.
-The Vikings had been remarkably healthy this season. Even Adrian Peterson had played in every game after underdoing major knee surgery in the offseason. Their luck changed Thursday, when cornerback Chris Cook suffered a broken wrist.
Secondary depth and talent had been one of the reasons for the Vikings' 5-2 record. That depth is gone now.
-If the Vikings wanted to think of themselves as a playoff team, they needed to capitalize on all of their winnable games. Playing at home on a short week against a losing team should have given them an opportunity to go 6-2, giving them some margin for error during the difficult second half of the schedule.
Now they're 5-3. Their victories are against an awful Jacksonville team, a very good 49ers team, the woeful Lions, the not-very-good Titans and the fast-falling Cardinals.
They'll need to go at least 4-4 in the second half to have a chance to make the playoffs, and they'll have to beat some good teams to achieve that. Their remaining games: at Seattle, Detroit, at Chicago, at Green Bay, Chicago, at St. Louis, at Houston and Green Bay.
That's not easy sledding even for a good team.
-Listening to Brian Robison and Leslie Frazier after the game, there are no illusions about their problems. When you pride yourself on physical play and defense and get run over by a small back two straight weeks, your pride is hurting. They are not happy.
-Peterson is having an amazing season. He's rushed 151 times for 775 yards, a 5.1-yard average and four touchdowns. He's caught 23 passes for 139 yards. He currently leads the NFL in rushing.
-Saw several fights in the stands tonight. This was a rowdy and often angry crowd. I understand booing when the team is getting blown out late, but the booing started in the first quarter. I find that strange.
I always say this is my favorite time of year, but, really, it's problematic. I can't stand having to watch five NFL games and a baseball playoff game at the same time.
as I said on the radio show this morning, I wish MLB would admit defeat and stop scheduling games on Sunday. If other sports fans are anything like me, they'd rather watch only the NFL on Sunday, and have the playoff games dominating other days and nights.
Anyway, a few notes, via the Vikings' PR department, for your perusal before today's kickoff:
-Percy Harvin's 30 catches through four games are the most ever for a Viking, passing the 28 caught b y Cris Carter and Jake Reed in 1997.
-Harvin leads the NFL in kickoff return average at 38.3 per, and is tied for the longest kickoff return (105 Yards) this seasomn with former Viking Darius Reynaud, now with the Titans.
-Harvin's 698 combined net yards lead the NFL. The Saints' Darren Sproles is second with 692. Combined net yards includes returns, receptions and rushing yards.
-Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is the only starter in the NFL who hasn't thrown an interception. He ranks 8th in the NFL with a passer rating of 97.7.
-Cornerback Marcus Sherels is the only player in Vikings' history with a punt return for a touchdown, and a sack.
-Harvin has caught a pass in each of his 51 NFL games.
-Blair Walsh has produced 12 kickoff touchbacks this season. The Vikings had 19 all of last season.
-This one shocks me: Since the start of the 2011 season, the Vikings rank first in sacks, with 62.
-With 100 yards rushing today, Adrian Peterson would tie Robert Smith for the all-time lead with 29 100-yard rushing games as a Viking.
-The Vikings haven't allowed a rush of longer than 15 yards this season. They are one of five teams to not allow a rush of 20-plus yards this season.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Monday to talk Vikings. I'll also be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
The Vikings' 24-13 upset of San Francisco might have been their most impressive performance since they beat Dallas in the playoffs in 2009. Their upset of Philadelphia in Philadelphia in 2010 was surprising, but those Eagles turned out to be a very flawed team, and with the game being postponed by weather, it never felt like a normal game.
This was different. This was the Vikings beating the 49ers at their own game. Here's what stood out to me:
1. A young Vikings roster that I don't think is talented enough yet to play with the league's big boys took it to the 49ers. They ran the ball. Percy Harvin, as usual, took it to defensive backs. Christian Ponder played with poise. The defense stifled the 49ers' power running game and pressured Alex Smith.
This is the way Leslie Frazier wants to win, and Sunday marked the first time you could see his vision played out on an NFL field against a superior team.
2. Ponder has yet to throw an interception this season. I know, I know, he's had a few dropped, and the 49ers could have changed the game by holding onto Ponder's one terrible throw in the fourth quarter,
Good quarterbacks thrown interceptions, too, though, and good quarterbacks have apparent interceptions dropped. The numbers, in this case, are accurate. Ponder has been careful with the ball and has completed 70 percent of his passes. After 13 NFL starts, he looks about as good as the Vikings could have hoped at this stage of his career.
3. Randy Moss looked like he didn't want to get hit. He short-armed a high throw and didn't appear interested in another pass that whistled by his head. He played sparingly in the fourth quarter of a game where the 49ers were desperate for a deep threat.
After all this time, Moss is pretty much everything everybody has ever said he is. He's a great receiver. He's one of the most unique talents in NFL history. He's a pain in the butt. And he is untrustworthy.
4. Ponder held a weird postgame press conference. He sounded like he wanted to pretend to be mad at everyone who didn't pick the Vikings to win the Super Bowl. But he's such a nice, reasonable guy, that he couldn't maintain the fake anger and kept making jokes.
He did keep bringing up the Super Bowl. Make of that what you will. I do think that Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, John Sullivan, Matt Kalil and the other young offensive players believe they're building something here. The question, for me, is whether they will be ready to win big while Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin are still healthy and in their prime.
Even in a game we all know if violent, Peterson and Harvin are exceptions. They run with exceptional effort.
5. Chad Greenway is having an outstanding season. He's shown up in the pass rush and in pass coverage. He's been a strong performer against the running game for years, but the man does work at his craft and you can see improvement across the board this year.
6. Sportswriters and radio hosts pick games because picking games can make for interesting copy and fodder. But we really shouldn't. We don't know who's going to win. If we did, we'd all live in Vegas. In penthouses in Vegas.
We don't. I proved that again today. I thought the 49ers would win by about 10.
Please don't ever take the advice of a sportswriter when betting. Nothing good will come of it.
-Restaurant recommendation of the day: Lola's Pizzeria in Southwest Minneapolis, on Xerxes. Great food and atmosphere.
-Tailgated outside TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. Nice atmosphere. Not as rowdy as some college campuses, but I think that's a good thing. People were friendly and calm, and the band sounded great.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
-Luckily for me, I'll be covering the Ryder Cup in Chicago this week. It's one of the few things I haven't done as a writer that I had always wanted to do. Next wish: The British Open at St. Andrews one of these years.
Jared Allen is playing in his ninth season in the NFL. He has been briefed on, and reminded of, the NFL's penchant for protecting quarterbacks. Whe he dove at Andrew Luck as Luck was running out of bounds, he gave a replacement official a chance to throw a flag, and the replacement official did.
The replacement official was, shockingly, right in this case.
Allen should have known better. He cost his team three points in a game that was decided by three points. The Vikings should expect more from one of their best, veteran players.
After the game, Allen told reporters, ``I guess you can't touch the quarterback.''
That's a silly thing to say. No, Jared, you can't touch the quarterback. Not in the head. Not after the whistle. And not when the NFL"s future superstar is running directly out of bounds.
Football is an emotional game, but a veteran player should be able to control himself in key situations. Allen didn't.
Other reasons for the Vikings' loss:
-I've been covering the Cover-2 defense since Tony Dungy brought it to Minnesota in 1992. I've seen it work as designed. Yesterday, it broke down when Reggie Wayne went right down the middle of the field from the slot and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Luck.
In the Cover-2, the middle linebacker is responsible for taking a deep drop on passing plays and covering the middle of the field, which is left open because each safety takes responsibility for one side.
But no defense, not even the Cover-2, should ask a linebacker to cover a wide receiver, and certainly not an elite wide receiver. If you're going to play Cover-2, the safeties have to be aware of where the best receivers are.
The core philosophy of the Cover-2 is to force offenses to settle for short passes, allowing defenders to play the eyes of the quarterback. The Cover-2 exists as a defense against the big play. Ask a linebacker to cover an elite receiver, and you're defeating the purpose of the scheme.
-If the Vikings hadn't dumped Ryan Longwell for Blair Walsh, they'd be 0-2.
-I thought it was strange when the Vikings, in the midst of an offseason that was all about slowly rebuilding, signed John Carlson to a five-year, $25-million deal. The thing is, that would have been a silly contract even if Carlson had played well. As it is, Carlson has zero catches through two games.
Why, again, did the Vikings invest heavily in an injury-prone backup tight end?
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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