Souhan: New standards raise Vikings' credibility -- winning streak doesn't hurt, either

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2012 - 11:55 AM
hide

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph tossed the ball to a fan in the stands after he caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass against the Titans on Sunday.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It wasn't long ago that you could question the soundness of Adrian Peterson's knee, Percy Harvin's mood, Leslie Frazier's schemes and Christian Ponder's résumé.

It wasn't long ago that whipping even an outfit as inept as the Titans would have been considered beyond the capabilities of a team that had lost 23 games the previous two seasons.

It wasn't long ago that the NFC North seemed an unfair placement for a young roster and a unproven coach who may have been one more lousy season away from Googling "moving vans."

It wasn't long ago, but five games into a season that was supposed to feature baby wipes and teething rings, the long list of perceived Vikings weaknesses now looks like it was printed on parchment.

Sunday, the Vikings did what good teams are supposed to do: steamrolled an overmatched opponent at home. The surprise is not that the Vikings won; the surprise was contained in the way they so easily embraced and embodied their new standards.

Their 30-7 victory over the stumblebum Titans gave the Vikings more victories in five weeks of the 2012 season than they managed in all of 2011, and the aura of a team that isn't just mumbling platitudes when it talks about titles.

"We've always had the same expectations," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "Our goal is to win this division. We feel like we've got the talent to do that. That's been our goal since we first met on April 23."

Unprompted, Frazier and several players mentioned that date, the first day they were allowed to work as a team during the offseason. Of course, every team can brag about its spring workouts and promise championships. What's different about the Vikings at this juncture is that they are rapidly improving while their division rivals are growing warts.

The Vikings have lost one game -- at Indianapolis, which just beat the Packers there. The same Titans who spent most of the game being outgained by Percy Harvin beat the Lions, the NFL's version of never-ending Minnesota road construction. The Bears might be the best team in the division, but only when Jay Cutler's mood ring is glowing blue.

Winning three games in a row earns the Vikings nothing, but winning three the way they did, by standing up physically to the 49ers, beating Detroit on the road and manhandling Tennessee, makes what had appeared to be a daunting schedule look much more manageable.

"What stinks is, we should be 5-0," Ponder said. "We had that close game against Indianapolis."

The Vikings look improved not only from last year's disaster; they look improved in the past three weeks.

Their season-opening victory over Jacksonville was shaky, but Ponder's ability to lead them to a comeback victory might prove to be the same kind of seasonal fulcrum as Brett Favre's winning touchdown pass against San Francisco in 2009. Their loss in Indianapolis set off alarms in the locker room.

"We were really disappointed after the first two games because we didn't feel like we played our best ball," said defensive end Brian Robison. "We really felt like we should have been 2-0. We came in, we talked it out, we said some things that needed to be said, we turned it around, and we're playing good ball."

So much has fallen into place. Peterson is the latest product of the Eric Sugarman Limb Regeneration Laboratory and the best running back in the game. Harvin, who briefly pouted this offseason, has become the most unique great player in the league. Frazier stuck with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and demoted defensive coordinator Fred Pagac, and both moves worked.

I've heard Frazier promise to deliver a championship in his hometown in Mississippi and in a community center in north Minneapolis; in informal chats by the practice fields in Eden Prairie and during packed news conferences. It all sounds like salesmanship until the team starts to deliver.

"We want to win the NFC North and we want to bring a championship to Minnesota," Frazier said. "Our goals have not changed one bit."

Their credibility, though, has improved quite a bit.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: D. Holland 4
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 2
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 4 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Samardzija 8
San Francisco - WP: S. Casilla 5 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 1
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 9/22/14 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Dallas 4
Anaheim 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 5
Arizona 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
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
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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 NoonX20-9
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