Vikings Insider: Passing threat has Peterson off to the races

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 29, 2011 - 11:19 PM

If Christian Ponder is successful at scaring defenses, there should be more room for the Vikings to open up their running game.

hide

Christian Ponder’s presence helped give Adrian Peterson space to operate against Green Bay.

Photo: Mckenna Ewen, Dml - Special To The Star Tribun

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

In a roundabout way, Adrian Peterson's outlook on life might have changed significantly with these 13 words: "Y Mo to trips left, 314 OP, naked left, crazy 7, Z pump."

Gibberish? Not to Peterson, who heard quarterback Christian Ponder call that in the first huddle of his first NFL start and sensed a new beginning.

No, the play wasn't designed for Peterson. His role? Feign taking a handoff, stop at the line and look for someone to block. Ponder and Michael Jenkins covered the rest. The quarterback rolled left. Jenkins put a nasty double move on Packers cornerback Tramon Williams to gain an acre of separation.

Seventy-two yards later, the Green Bay defense had its warning. Yep, the Vikings suddenly had a dangerous vertical passing attack.

To that point, the Vikings had run 356 plays this season and had thrown 174 passes. Yet they had only four completions longer than 30 yards.

The result? Opponents were consistently crowding the line of scrimmage with eight, sometimes nine defenders. In Week 6, the Bears built a wall, zeroed in on Peterson and dared Donovan McNabb to beat them.

"All Day" had a rough night -- 39 yards on 12 carries. The Vikings lost 39-10. The face of the franchise vented.

"When a defense is focused on just stopping the run and being able to attack and basically daring you to pass because they don't believe you can, it's going to be a long day for you," Peterson said.

Then a few days later came that 13-word command: "Y Mo to trips left, 314 OP, naked left, crazy 7 Z pump."

More important, here came Ponder with his fearlessness. And here came Green Bay with eight men in the box -- only to be torched on the first play.

Suddenly, Peterson felt less claustrophobic. He trampled the Packers for a season-high 175 yards.

Peterson's three biggest bursts covered 54, 29 and 25 yards.

His 106 yards after halftime came after he had averaged 27 second-half rushing yards over the season's first six weeks.

"I think our quarterback had a little bit to do with it," coach Leslie Frazier said.

Sure, it's too simplistic to conclude that first play by itself instantly opened holes for Peterson to run wild. Neither Frazier nor offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave would go that far.

But there's no denying Ponder's presence has given the offense a new dimension.

"I mean, Adrian had a big day rushing," Jenkins said. "I think you could see [the Packers] knew they had to respect our ability to throw."

It's not just Ponder's willingness to attack downfield. His pocket savvy and quick feet have Carolina coach Ron Rivera equally uneasy this week. Rivera's Panthers are one of the NFL's worst teams against the run. Logic says they'll need to devote maximum manpower Sunday toward stopping Peterson, the league's rushing leader.

But this pesky Ponder kid ... Man, you have to keep a close eye on him now, too.

Said Rivera: "The one thing we felt about Ponder all along is that he's just a tremendous athlete. And the threat of him running the bootleg or the threat of him running the quarterback keeps, it keeps that backside honest. And if the backside is too honest, the kid keeps the ball and goes around it. But if you crash or stay too wide, now there's a huge cutback for Adrian Peterson. And that's a scary thing. You don't want to give that guy any creases. He doesn't need any creases, believe me."

On Peterson's 54-yard run last week, the Packers didn't load the box. And thanks to a key block from center Joe Berger, Peterson had a small crease up the middle. Off he went.

The psychological impact? The Vikings suddenly feel more potent. Opponents suddenly must think more.

No wonder Peterson went on such a jubilant dash after that first pass last weekend, catching up to Ponder in the end zone, slapping the side of the kid's helmet and shouting his congratulations.

"I feel like we took a big jump last week," Peterson said.

He's not alone.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto 1 Bottom 6th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Washington 2 Top 8th Inning
Miami 0
NY Mets 5 Top 6th Inning
Atlanta 2
Boston 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Baltimore 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 7th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Chicago WSox 4 Top 6th Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 2 Bottom 3rd Inning
Minnesota 1
Detroit 1 Top 3rd Inning
Kansas City 2
Seattle 1 Bottom 4th Inning
Houston 1
Los Angeles 2 Bottom 2nd Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 20 3rd Qtr 1:16
Buffalo 10
Dallas 20 3rd Qtr 1:00
St. Louis 21
Washington 20 3rd Qtr 9:18
Philadelphia 24
Houston 10 4th Qtr
NY Giants 17
Minnesota 9 3rd Qtr 0:14
New Orleans 13
Tennessee 0 3rd Qtr 0:30
Cincinnati 26
Baltimore 17 3rd Qtr 0:13
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 3rd Qtr 1:00
Detroit 12
Indianapolis 30 3rd Qtr 5:00
Jacksonville 3
Oakland 9 4th Qtr
New England 10
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 3rd Prd
Carolina 2
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 1st Half 44:55
Toronto FC 0
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 5:11
Montreal 15
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close