What a difference a week makes. Against the Arizona Cardinals the Vikings looked like dispirited pod people, but just a week later they’re playing some good, old-fashioned smash mouth football. Once again, the Minnesota Vikings once again looked like they belonged in the Black and Blue division. Reading the sports section on Monday morning with my coffee it felt like the universe was back the way they should be.
While it is hard to give a game in which the home team’s offense gets so many false start penalties a completely glowing review, but it was still pretty darn good. The Vikings looked like they spent the week leading up to the game against the Bengals getting back to basics. Adrian Peterson was able to run the ball for 97 yards and showed off some receiving skills. Most importantly, he didn’t fumble the ball. Brett Favre seemed like more of a game-manager, simply handing the ball to Peterson and Chester Taylor, than a gunslinger who fires it downfield. Considering the Vikings receiving corps was having a hard time hanging onto the ball Sunday, that wasn’t all bad. Oh, and after being gone for weeks (felt like years) Antoine Winfield was back on the field.
There are all sorts of interesting things one could take from the Vikings victory over Cincinnati, but the thing that struck me was just how fortunate the Minnesota Vikings are to have Antoine Winfield back. The loss of E.J. Henderson during the game with Arizona was, arguably the biggest loss for the team. Henderson was once again playing at the speed and intensity he was at last year before his season-ending foot injury, but more than that, he seemed to know how to quietly marshal his defense to game-winning action. But, the same week the Vikings lost Henderson they regained Antoine Winfield—and that makes all the difference in the world.
Antoine Winfield reminds me of the dachshund we had when I was a kid–give me a second, this is more complimentary than it might appear at first glance. The dog didn’t know he was small. He barked big, he fought big, and he could scare off German Shepherds. If you tried to make this dog a purse puppy he probably would have taken your arm off. Like that dachshund, Antoine Winfield is small, only 5’9”, but the guy hits harder than a Mac truck. A small stature could be seen as a detriment for a corner back going up against lanky receivers, but you would never know it by the way Winfield plays. In his first game back from the fractured foot that sidelined him for weeks, he had nine tackles and a forced fumble. It’s almost as if he’s making up for lost time.
That time spent recuperating has the added advantage of keeping Winfield fresh for the end of the season and the start of the post-season. Considering how beat-up players can get by this point in the season, having a rested and recovered weapon like Antoine Winfield to add back into the line-up looks almost strategic. Almost. At any rate, the Vikings couldn’t have gotten him back at a better time and his return bodes well for a little Vikings redemption after their previous poor showing on Sunday night football. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t wait for Sunday night.
*This piece also appears at vikingsmix.com under the name Skol Girl. The site has more information on the Minnesota Vikings than you can shake a stick at.