Vikings win: A beauty but a beast

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 22, 2012 - 11:52 AM

The Purple can thank big plays on defense and Adrian Peterson for beating Arizona despite Christian Ponder's tough day.

Let's get this out of the way: The Vikings' 21-14 defeat of Arizona on Sunday was, well, ugly.

Unsightly if you're truly feeling generous.

And if you left Mall of America Field feeling as if you'd seen something beautiful, those extra-strength beer goggles must really have been working.

"It's a good thing to be disappointed when you're 5-2," quarterback Christian Ponder summarized during his glum five-minute postgame podium stop.

Sunday's lowlights: Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a score. But an illegal block by Marvin Mitchell erased that. It was one of seven Vikings penalties, three committed by the special teams.

Tackling, too, was an issue at times, with Cardinals back LaRod Stephens-Howling proving more slippery than a thrashing walleye on his way to a 104-yard rushing day.

And Ponder? He was a disaster, completing only one pass after halftime -- a 4-yarder to Adrian Peterson with 3:56 left in the third quarter.

The second-year quarterback threw for only 58 yards all day with two head-scratching interceptions, one inside his own 20 that basically handed the Cardinals their first touchdown.

So how on an afternoon when the offense managed only 209 yards and 12 first downs did the Vikings roll to 5-2 without ever trailing or even feeling threatened?

The truth: Because this is how they are built to win in 2012 -- with a ferocious yet disciplined defense and a punishing ground game.

Sure, the NFL as a whole might be evolving into an aerial show. But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is old-fashioned. His plan is to refine his energetic defense and then use Peterson as often as he wants to be used.

Which, for the record, is a lot.

That formula worked perfectly Sunday with Peterson delivering 153 rushing yards and a 13-yard first-quarter touchdown run. The defense, meanwhile, dominated up front and stayed true to its identity.

Poor John Skelton. The Cardinals quarterback was battered all day, sacked seven times and also forced into a fumble and an interception.

Brian Robison dropped Skelton three times. Jared Allen got there twice. And cornerback Antoine Winfield delivered the highlight reel hit of the day, flipping Skelton as the quarterback desperately tried to convert a fourth-and-2 bootleg.

Oh, and let's not forget Kevin Williams' first sack this season. That came on fourth-and-10 with 6:16 left as the entire line charged Skelton as if he were the candy under a ruptured piñata.

Williams got there first. But Allen, Robison and Everson Griffen were all right there, too.

"That rush kept getting there," Williams said. "And don't forget about our coverage. Those guys in the back held it down."

The defensive game plan worked perfectly. The Vikings drew a circle around number 11, All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and refused to let Arizona hit the big play. Safeties Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford mostly stayed deep in coverage with the Vikings trusting their front-four pressure would flourish against the Cardinals' shaky offensive line.

It worked. Arizona's longest pass was a 22-yarder to tight end Rob Housler.

Fitzgerald wound up with four catches for only 29 yards. That's less yardage than Smith had on his interception return touchdown in the third quarter, an instinctive pick and dash to the pylon after Skelton was hurried on his throw to Early Doucet.

"That was a huge jolt for us at a big moment in the game," cornerback Chris Cook said. "Whenever we get a pick, we preach 'Take it to the crib.' Harrison took it to the crib and we had a party in the end zone.

"Today showed we can win games on defense."

Then there was Peterson, off and running from his second carry on. That first big burst went for 27 yards, vintage A.D. in its explosion and power.

With the Vikings noticing elements of Arizona's defensive pressure that could be attacked, Peterson averaged 6.7 yards on 23 rushes, even as the Cardinals loaded the box all day.

No wonder Frazier dipped into the superlative bank to label Peterson "special," "inspirational," and "a pro's pro" all within a few breaths, noting how invaluable the running back's contributions were.

"That's the formula for success if you're in a tough situation throwing the football," Frazier said.

Added Peterson: "We had the mindset that we were going to be able to run the ball no matter what. We showed that today."

The Vikings also showed they could succeed on a day when not everything was pretty. At this point in their building process, that's a big deal.

Dan Wiederer •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Montreal 7:30 PM
Arizona 8:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 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




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do against Atlanta?

Weekly Question