Scoggins: Maybe Vikings aren't what we thought

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 1, 2012 - 1:10 PM

Perhaps we at least ought to consider that the Vikings might be better than most preseason predictors guessed.

DETROIT -- Wait, wasn't this supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Vikings?

Another death march of heartbreaking losses, lessons learned, frustrating mistakes and a baptism by fire for a roster full of young, unproven talent. Wasn't Leslie Frazier supposed to be roasting on the hot seat, his future at the helm growing murkier with each passing week? And that defense. Whew, close your eyes and hold your nose when that unit takes the field, right?

All of those things might come to fruition eventually. But not now. No, the picture they've painted so far looks entirely different than anyone outside the Winter Park ZIP code predicted for a team that ushered in a youth movement after a three-win 2011 season.

Instead of another serving of pigskin calamity and comedy, we're witnessing competence and budding confidence. And winning football.

On a day when their offense didn't score a touchdown, the Vikings still managed to win a road game -- 20-13 over the Lions -- end their unsightly 11-game losing streak within the division and demonstrate that a spirited upset of the San Francisco 49ers a week prior wasn't so fluky after all.

"Maybe the world of spectators is surprised, but we're not," Adrian Peterson said. "We knew that we could play some good football."

Who knows if the Vikings can keep it up, but this much is certain: They are 3-1 and sit atop the NFC North at the season's quarter-pole. A fast start does not define an entire season, but the Vikings are forcing others to pay attention for reasons beyond off-field drama or historic ineptitude.

Heck, maybe this team really is better than we thought. Not that the Vikings seem to care about outside opinions.

"We'll sneak up on everybody," veteran leader Kevin Williams said. "Let's just keep playing well as a team and who cares if anybody sees us coming. We want people to have a blind eye."

Not likely at this rate. The Vikings already matched their win total from last season and now enter a stretch in which they play three of their next four games at home, and two of the home games are against Tennessee and Tampa Bay, both 1-3. NFL parity usually is unforgiving to any team that takes things for granted, but the Vikings prospects certainly look better now than, say, two weeks ago.

"This is a great spot to be in after four games, but we need to remember it's just the first quarter of the season," center John Sullivan said. "We just want to get on a roll and win more games. Put some in the bank."

They were money in what amounted to a "prove it" game Sunday. In a span of eight days, the Vikings lost to one of the NFL's worst teams (Colts) and dominated one of its best (49ers). That's a large spectrum that required more evaluation to gain a clearer understanding of what this team is, or is not. The players answered that challenge.

"[Frazier] said last week's win would mean nothing if we came out here and lost," Percy Harvin said.

A similar refrain echoed throughout a loud, happy locker room afterward. Players and coaches lauded the attitude and focus in practice last week. They handled success with proper restraint.

"To come on the road, division game -- we haven't won in the division for a while -- and to control the game," Jared Allen said, "this was a huge team win."

A team win that revealed several encouraging developments. The defense, particularly the secondary, held up well against the Lions' top-ranked passing offense. Peterson eclipsed 100 yards rushing and showed an explosive burst for the first time since returning from knee surgery. Jerome Simpson gave the offense a vertical threat, and special teams decided the outcome.

They also made key plays at key junctures, which is more indication that this team isn't constrained by the same fatalistic mindset that engulfed the locker room last season.

"We knew last year we could play with anybody if we played our best ball, but we couldn't find a way to do that," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "This year we're doing that. We're finding ways to play our best football at the most critical times."

Maybe that will change at some point. Maybe the Vikings will stumble and become the team many expected. Of course, there's also a chance those predictions were wrong. Perhaps it's time we consider that scenario, too.

  • related content

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    Sunday September 30, 2012

    The Vikings beat the Lions 20-13 in Detroit on Sunday.

  • Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is pursued by Vikings defensive end Brian Robison Sunday at Ford Field.

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San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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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 NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
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

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