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Reason to Believe: The Vikings Beat the Redskins Instead of Themselves

Just to keep things interesting and keep everyone guessing, on Sunday the Minnesota Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 17 to 13 at FedEx Field. In what’s becoming the theme of the 2010 season, expect the unexpected from this team. The Vikings have lost games they were expected to win and now they’ve won a game they were expected to lose. And that’s a big, hairy deal.

Let’s forget for a moment that just about every analyst out there agrees that the Redskins are a “mediocre at best” team and appreciate what a rare and wonderful thing it is to see the Vikings to truly play as a team this season. It wasn’t pretty or perfect, but in a wonderfully unspectacular fashion the Vikings learned from and limited their mistakes, capitalized on the Redskins’ mistakes (How great was E.J. Henderson’s interception off a tipped Donovan McNabb pass?), and won. I don’t care how much analysts might downplay this Viking victory, a win is a win. You don’t get extra points for style.

It was reported last week that interim head coach Leslie Frazier, in order to set the tone for the rest of the season played some mood music during practice. So, let’s enjoy Coach Frazier’s musical selection and a look at why things are looking up. You know, besides the fact that the Vikings won.

Last week, with the firing of Brad Childress as the Vikings head coach and naming Leslie Frazier as the interim head coach, I thought it would be wise to cultivate low expectations for Sunday’s game in Washington. After all, the Vikings hadn’t won on the road in more than a year, they would be playing outside, and they had a new coach.

Despite all the reasons why Sunday’s game could have been yet another disappointing loss in a season full of disappointing losses, the Vikings won. And, their win was as much about the things they weren’t doing as it was about the things they were doing. Unlike recent Vikings’ performances, during Sunday’s game the Vikings didn’t sabotage their success with the things that have plagued them all season.

  • Turnovers. The most notable difference between Sunday’s game and other games this season was that the Vikings’ offense did not turn the ball over—no fumbles, no interceptions, nada. It was nice to see the Vikings make the Redskins work to get the ball back. While the coverage teams have performed poorly, it still seems like a better option than simply handing possession over with turnovers and interceptions. And that goes back to the ball security that Frazier emphasized to players leading up to Sunday’s game. I read that Frazier told players to protect the ball as if it was an injured child. That’s the kind of image that will stick with a person, and maybe that’s why instead of forcing throws, Brett Favre was willing to take a couple sacks.
  • Penalties. On Sunday the Vikings were flagged three times for penalties for 15 yards while the Redskins were flagged six times for 35 yards. Honestly, the Vikings having only three penalties almost surprises me more than the Vikings not turning the ball over in Sunday’s game. Sloppy play has resulted in costly penalties all season, putting the Vikings at a yardage disadvantage and negating good plays. It was a nice change to see that the brilliant play on a punt return that was negated by a penalty was against the Redskins and not the Vikings.
  • Playing to strengths. Prior to Sunday’s game I read that Frazier was going to listen to Favre’s advice. Novel idea that, listening to the guy who has played for two decades and is older than some of the coaching staff. And, during the week Favre said that one of the problems is that offensive strategy gets too complicated. His point was that if a team executes plays well, then it doesn’t matter if a defense knows it’s coming or not, that defense still has to stop it. Well, Sunday’s game was a good example of exactly that. The offensive play-calling wasn’t electric, but it played to Favre’s strength with plenty of bootleg plays called that had him rolling out of the pocket. And, even though after the first Minnesota possession of the game the Redskins had to know the Vikings were going to run the ball a whole lot, they still weren’t able to prevent the Vikings from rushing for 137 yards.
  • Resilience. There were mistakes and misfortunes during Sunday’s game. The Redskins marched 83 yards for a touchdown on their first possession and they converted on third downs. Ray Edwards and Adrian Peterson both came out of the game with ankle injuries. But despite the rocky defensive start and the injuries, the Vikings found a way to regroup and battle through to win. After Washington’s first drive the Vikings allowed only three more third down conversions the entire game and Toby Gerhart and Brian Robison both stepped up with solid performances when Peterson and Edwards were injured. With as much as this team as gone through this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had used up all their resilience, but it looks like they found a previously untapped supply.

Clearly, the Vikings will have to work very hard and have some very good luck if they are going to have even the hope of winning a Wild Card for the playoffs. But, strange stuff happens every week in the NFL so until the Vikings are absolutely eliminated from playoff contention, I’m going to hold onto hope that a talented team with a new coach and the resolve not to quit has a shot.

*This entry is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under the name Skol Girl. She’s my alter ego and she is really, really into the Minnesota Vikings.

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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Lifestyle

 

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The Long, Hard Wait for the Vikings Home Opener Against Miami

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I’m really glad that the Minnesota Vikings season opener against the New Orleans Saints is done and over. The anticipation and hype leading up to that game had me so wired I was hopping around like a squirrel on meth. If it was over and the Vikings had won I would be happier and I probably wouldn’t have spent so much of Thursday night accusing the officials of doing immoral things with sheep, but it’s still a relief that a game with so much overwhelming hype is done.

The game shouldn’t be completely written off because it isn’t as if there weren’t bright spots in the Vikings performance against the Saints despite the loss, because there were. But when you want a win those bright spots aren’t quite bright enough.

But now it is a new week and the Vikings are preparing for a new game. It reminded me of the song “Walk and Don’t Look Back” by Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh because the Vikings need to learn what they can from Thursday’s disappointing loss without dwelling on it. I was even going to post the video to that song, but Mick Jagger acted so weird in it that it almost killed the song for me.

On Thursday night the Vikings offense looked out of sync and, well, kind of crappy but even then there was reason for hope. The Vikings offensive line did a fantastic job of keeping Brett Favre upright and giving him time to find a receiver. He didn’t, but that was hardly their fault. Even Bryant McKinnie put in a solid performance until he left the game with a dislocated finger. Adrian Peterson, despite getting mugged, did not fumble the ball. He was also on track to have what would have been a 100-yard game, but the Vikings, for reasons I don’t understand, abandoned the run in the second half. New acquisition Greg Camarillo’s hands were just as sure as advertised, but the Vikings didn’t put him in the game until the fourth quarter.

The Vikings defense, with the exception of the Saints first offensive series, held one of the league’s most dynamic offenses to a paltry 14 points. Drew Brees was able to exploit the Vikings’ corners during the first series, but after that the Vikings secondary put on the brakes and held firm. The Vikings linebackers were men on a mission, making flying tackles and showing that E.J. Henderson really is up to game speed. And Jayme Mitchell even got a sack on Drew Brees who didn’t look comfortable all night.

So yeah, it was a loss, but there were plenty of positives for the Vikings to build on and that has me impatient for the Vikings match-up on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami Dolphins are sitting at the bottom of the AFC East, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put up a fight when they face the Vikings at the Dome on Sunday. On Sunday they won their first season opener in five years and they did it on the road in Buffalo. Quarterback Chad Henne and receiver Brandon Marshall flashed a growing chemistry that could prove challenging for opposing defenses to contain. And the Dolphins defense set a fast pace that Buffalo had a hard time answering. Will they be as much of a challenge as the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints? Probably not, but you never can tell what will happen.

Even with time off for his grandson’s christening [insert your own Brett Favre is old joke here], The FavreTM will have another week learning his receivers and how they run their routes. Favre didn’t unretire to lose, so I’m willing to bet that he’s logging his characteristic long hours in practice and looking at film. His favorite target from last season, Sidney Rice, may not be available, but something tells me that the 29-yard pass Favre lobbed at Greg Camarillo on Thursday night is just the beginning. Not only that, but it was reported that Percy Harvin’s migraines may have been triggered by sleep apnea. If that diagnosis is accurate, then now that Harvin is under treatment for sleep apnea, look for a surge in his production as he kicks off the rust.

And, for the love of Ragnar, give Adrian Peterson the damn ball! He’s running angry trying to show the team and everyone else that his fumbles are behind him and that Chris Johnson is full of hot air. Let him.

On defense, there is a good chance that possibly both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin will be healthy enough to play in the next two games. If so, the secondary will get a nice upgrade and, just maybe, a few interceptions. He’s a nice, tall cornerback and I have a feeling that Cook will be able to win the jump-ball battle. Other than the secondary, the defense’s greatest problem on Thursday night seemed to be fatigue—the Vikings offense didn’t stay on the field long enough for the defense to catch their collective breath. By the fourth quarter the line that had done such a good job of stuffing the run suddenly seemed porous. I believe that as the offense improves the defense will too.

So, once again, I’m counting down until a Vikings game. But this time, I think there’s a much better chance that I’m counting down to a win. I’ll leave you with a song that no corny video can ruin for me. Which is good because the video really is pretty corny.

*This piece is also posted at both http://vikingsmix.com/ and http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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John Randle Joins Hall of Fame–Who’s Next?

Last night watching the Bengals and the Cowboys fight it out on national television it seemed that all was once again right with the world. I don’t like the Cowboys (a guy who broke my heart was a Cowboys fan and they will forever suffer from that association) and I’m mostly apathetic about the Bengals, but the professional football season is finally upon us so, regardless of who’s playing, I like to mark the event. But, for me, the really fun part of last night’s game had nothing to do with the game and everything to do with capping off the annual induction festivities at the Hall of Fame.

I was decked out in my John Randle jersey in honor of his induction. Probably should have painted my face too, but…I just don’t have the moxie for face-painting. John Randle’s story is the stuff that NFL dreams are made of–he came from nothing, went undrafted and signed with the Vikings as a rookie free-agent, hoping they wouldn’t switch him to linebacker because he was undersized for a defensive end. He worked hard and in two years, he had his break out season and quickly becoming as well-known for his speed as he was for his trash-talking and face-painting. And now he’s enshrined with the rest of the greats in Canton, Ohio.

Thinking of that made me wonder which players on the current Vikings roster might eventually make it to Canton to join Randle. Which players from the 2010 team will join the other greats in the Hall of Fame?

Despite concerns about his tendency to fumble, Adrian Peterson is the kind of rare talent that makes everyone stand up and take notice. I still giggle thinking of last season’s opener against the Browns when Peterson tossed a defender out of his way in a move Ray Edwards coined “kiss the baby”. So you can’t daydream about future Hall of Famers without tossing Peterson’s name in there.

Jared Allen is crazy in a similar vein to John Randle. The Vikings sack leader last year, I think (but can’t definitively remember) he was second in the NFL. Allen is also just plain fun to watch, with all of his calf-roping and trash-talking. Remember that game against the Lions when a member of the Lions offense put his helmet into Jared’s knee? Jared already had a third degree shoulder separation and only one good leg to stand on, but he was going to hop over on his one good leg to kick that Lion’s ass. Good thing Ray Edwards kept him from doing it.

There are so many good players on the current Vikings roster that I’m almost loath to write anyone off. E.J. Henderson at middle linebacker adds an important element to the Vikings defense. Percy Harvin is an incredible receiver/running back hybrid who has a talent for making things happen. Steve Hutchinson is a guard who has the distinction of having his name mentioned very little–people only hear about offensive linemen when they screw up. Ray Edwards has benefited from the double-teams that Jared Allen draws, giving him the opportunity to make some brilliant defensive plays. Then there’s Ryan Longwell whose kicking is so steady he’s practically money in the bank. And there’s a certain quarterback from Mississippi who will no doubt make it into the Hall of Fame the first year he’s eligible.

Only time will tell who makes it into the Hall of Fame and when, but it’s fun to speculate. With at team this loaded with talent, it isn’t such a stretch to believe it’s possible.

This piece is also available under the name Skol Girl at both http://vikingsmix.com and http://www.dailynorseman.com lots of good Vikings-related material at both sites. Some of it not even written by me.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Uncategorized

 

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My Vikings Training Camp Wish List

It’s been six long months since the Minnesota Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints on January 24, 2010. It might take the edge off of my football withdrawal if I could get into baseball, but when I’m craving smash mouth football complete with calf-roping antics, baseball doesn’t quite do it for me.

But now it’s late July and soon, tantalizingly soon, Minnesota Vikings training camp will start up again and we’ll get to see what kind of a shot at redemption the veteran-heavy team has for the coming season. For a football-deprived fan like myself, it feels like Christmas in July. Truly. I’m filled with as much joy and anticipation for the start of training camp as I was when I was seven and hoping for a Cabbage Patch Kid.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I’m making out my wish list for the coming season. How weird and wonderful would it be if a sleigh pulled by eight tiny linebackers landed on my rooftop and a jolly giant like, say, Pat Williams hopped down the chimney to deliver everything on my list? Well, a girl can dream.

Wish #1

Doubtless, this is at the top of many people’s lists, but it would be so very nice if Brett Favre came back to the Vikings for another season. Kind of a no-brainer wish. However, the chances of Brett Favre making a return in time for or during training camp isn’t likely given his well-documented disdain for training camp. Still, this is a wish list, not a likely list—might as well aim high.

Wish #2

Adrian Peterson is a dynamic, hard-working running back. Every time he gets the ball he pours his heart and soul into trying to make something happen. Here’s a thought:  How about you hang onto the ball. While not as flashy as a break-away run into the end zone, reducing fumbles and turnovers probably would have won that NFC championship game against the Saints.

Wish #3

He’s big and he, occasionally, shows flashes of ability that validate the Vikings decision to keep him around, but I would dearly love to see Bryant McKinnie play up to his potential every game, not one in five. If Favre does return, then, for the love of Zeus, protect the guy! Last year Julius Peppers pushed 6’8” 330lb Bryant McKinnie around like McKinnie was on castors. I don’t know if that means Peppers is jus that good or if McKinnie is just that lazy. During the off-season Peppers signed with the Chicago Bears meaning the Vikings will have to face him at least twice next season.

Wish #4

Please, oh please, don’t let Brad Childress’s decision to bring in Rhys Lloyd mess up Ryan Longwell’s head or kicking consistency. While bringing in Lloyd to pin opposing offenses against their end zones is great, Longwell says kick-offs give him a chance to get a feel for field conditions before he kicks for points. Longwell is money in the bank, don’t throw him off his game.

Wish #5

I love linebackers. Leber, Greenway, Farwell, they make me smile. But, and I don’t say this lightly, I really, really love E.J. Henderson. Most of his highlights show him flying Super Man style to make a tackle. Who doesn’t love seeing that? And with a healthy Henderson at middle, I like the Vikings chances of forcing three-and-outs much better. So, here’s hoping that E.J. Henderson is back to his pre-injury form and that his season isn’t cut short with an injury the way it has been for the past two years.

Wish #6

Maybe it’s because I added his jersey to my collection, or maybe it’s because I like seeing an under-dog come out on top, but I would dearly love to see Sidney Rice build on the amazing season he had last year. A participant at Larry Fitzgerald’s summer training camp, last season Rice debunked the theory that he was a draft bust. Let’s hope that this season, regardless of who is ultimately playing quarterback for the Vikings, he proves that last season’s performance is just the start of many good things.

Well, a football fan could keep wishing all day, but I think six is a good place to stop. Something tells me that as the Vikings training camp heats up there will be plenty of new things to wish for.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.vikingsmix.com under my other alias, Skol Girl.

http://vikingsmix.com/2010/07/training-camp-wish-list.html

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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What a Difference a Week Makes

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.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2009 in Brett Favre, Football, Uncategorized

 

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Decking the Halls in Purple: Shopping for a Vikings Jersey

With the Vikings fresh from one of their most decisive victories of the season, crushing divisional rivals the Chicago Bears, and maintaining a three game lead at the top of the NFC North division, Vikings fans are staring down the very real prospect of witnessing that much touted deep playoff run. Thus, the question on every Vikings fan’s mind is, “What am I going to wear?”

Okay, that could just be me, but with the holidays and the playoffs fast approaching it doesn’t hurt to find out if the Vikings fans on your list are looking for more wardrobe options to show their purple pride—especially those band-wagon fans who cheer for the Vikings only when a winning season is guaranteed. I’ve devoted some thought to this question because, much as I love my John Randle jersey, with so many talented players on the 2009 Vikings roster it seems like a crying shame not to support current players too. However that leaves me with the problem of deciding whose jersey I want to add to my purple collection. Here are some strategies for choosing a jersey that I hope helps you choose a jersey for yourself or the Minnesota Vikings fans on your list.

Superstar! Like Mary Katherine Gallagher, SNL’s irrepressible Catholic school-girl, some players are just superstars. They are full of flash and talent, they break records, and they are fan favorites. Obvious Vikings superstars include Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, and Jared Allen. And, as the obvious superstars, they sell the most jerseys so you might want to shop early to make sure stores have their jerseys in the size you’re looking for.

Vikings to the end. I don’t like to share, this is the reason why it makes me twitch when the players I cheer for sign with other teams. One way of getting around that problem is to wear the jersey of a player who is going to retire a Viking. This year that includes Antoine Winfield and Jim Kleinsasser, both of whom signed contracts last off-season to guarantee that they will end their playing days as Minnesota Vikings.

Workhorses. Although some players possess the kind of talent that makes football look easy, football is a team effort. For every superstar on the field racking up points and stats, there are several players doing unlauded work to make those plays possible. The running game wouldn’t be anything without blockers. No matter how MVP the quarterback, he can’t do much if his offensive line doesn’t protect him. And the pass rushers wouldn’t have a pass to rush if the nose tackle wasn’t stuffing the run. A list of those players would include Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Naufahu Tahi, Jim Kleinsasser, and Pat Williams—to name a few. Oh, and one of the best third-down backs in the league, Chester Taylor.

Up and comers. Maybe you, or someone you’re shopping for likes to be the first to support the team’s youngest players. This year Sidney Rice (third season) is silencing critics who, last year, suggested he was a draft dud. Percy Harvin is tearing up the field and proving he was worth the risk of drafting. John Sullivan, now in his second year, is helping to keep Favre from taking so many punishing sacks. Tyrell Johnson and Asher Allen have been in the rotation since Winfield has been out with a broken foot—both show real promise.

Pick your position. Another way of choosing whose jersey to wear is to choose by offense, defense, or special teams. If your fan doesn’t have a specific player in mind but loves running backs, safeties, or linemen, you have a starting place. Me, I love linebackers (E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Ben Leber) because I grew up watching Scott Studwell. Others love the receivers who race down the field, make flying leaps, and catch passes that don’t seem catchable (Rice, Harvin, Bernard Berrien). Vikings special teams is dramatically improved from where it was last year (Ryan Longwell, Heath Farwell, Darius Reynaud). And, this year’s defensive line (Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Ray Edwards) feels destined to go down in history alongside the famed Purple People Eaters.

I just like him. Some players are just likeable. It may be for their stats, their personality, or even their off-field charitable work. Last year, for me, that player was Bobby Wade. But there are plenty of current candidates too. E.J. Henderson, in addition to becoming the E.J. he was before last year’s season-ending injury, he uses his foundation to reach out to urban youth. Steve Hutchinson hosts a Thanksgiving meal every year at UM Amplatz Children’s Hospital for patients and their families. Artis Hicks supports the Ronald McDonald House charities. Adrian Peterson has his All Day foundation. Chad Greenway supports breast cancer awareness. Bernard Berrien teams with the Second Harvest organization to combat hunger. The list goes on and on, but my point is that, in this season of giving and charity you can also chose a player to support based on what they support.

Well, I hope this gives you some ideas as you set forth on your jersey-shopping adventure. To be honest, I’ve convinced myself that I need a jersey for just about everyone on the roster so I hope this worked out better for you than it did for me.

Happy holidays and Purple Pride!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Brett Favre, Football, Uncategorized

 

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Lovesong for the Linebackers

Was it luck or skill that helped the Minnesota Vikings carry the day in their 27 to 13 victory against the Detroit Lions? I’m not sure. Stylish or not, a win is a win. And, with a schedule that gets more challenging as the season progresses, they absolutely needed to win yesterday.

We could talk all day about what needs to improve so the Vikings can win against teams that don’t have losing records. In fact, looking at the sports section of the paper today, it was hard to believe the Vikings had come away with a win, the tenor of the articles was just that somber. They were filled with gloom and doom about the shaky future of the team if the Vikings continue to allow competitors to dominate the first half, run the ball against them, sack Brett Favre, and stuff the run.

All of that is true. Resting the team through the first half so they are fresh for a second half comeback isn’t a sound method for winning football games. However, I’d like to take a minute to talk about what went right during yesterday’s victory over Detroit—the linebackers.

I think my favorite play yesterday was Chad Greenway’s second interception from Detroit’s rookie quarterback Matt Stafford. Greenway, in what seemed like penance for an earlier missed tackle, played memorable, aggressive football. He had two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and three tackles and an assist to his credit, and yet, when interviewed following the game, Greenway was still beating himself up for that one missed tackle. He’s hardworking, he’s humble, and he gets the job done. One can’t ignore the demoralizing impact that those interceptions and turnovers had on the Detroit Lions during the second half, and how it helped turn the tide for the Vikings. If ever there was a guy who had earned himself a Klondike bar, it is Chad Greenway.

E.J. Henderson is back in a big way. With his mane of dreadlocks covering up his name it’s like he’s the undercover linebacker. The quietly menacing middle linebacker from Maryland racked up 27 tackles in just four games last year before his season was cut short with a foot injury. This year he has a sack and 15 tackles in just two games, seven of the tackles against Detroit. Healthy, he’s going to continue to do that voodoo that he does so well, punishing opposing offenses like nobody’s business. If Henderson doesn’t make it to the Pro Bowl, I’ll be very surprised.

With all the razzle-dazzle of Greenway and Henderson in the last two games Ben Leber is often the overlooked outside linebacker. But the guy is a solid and durable player, with 11 tackles and a sack assist already this season. In the previous three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Leber has missed only one game. Durability isn’t glitzy, but to see how strapped a team can be after losing a solid starting linebacker, one need only look to Chicago where they are scrambling to fill the void that Brian Urlacher’s season-ending wrist injury has caused the Bears.

Sure, Adrian Peterson is still the star and Percy Harvin is developing nicely under Brett Favre’s tutelage. Brett Favre, incidentally, is also the only quarterback in the NFC North who has yet to throw an interception—something for those lamenting the lack of deep plays to consider. But, for today, let’s give a little love to the linebackers, one of whom was instrumental in changing the direction of the Vikings game against the Lions and providing the win they needed.

This post and other Minnesota Vikings stories can be found at vikingsmix.com.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2009 in Football

 

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