Quotulatiousness

September 17, 2014

Adrian Peterson won’t play this week (or perhaps for the rest of the NFL season)

Filed under: Business, Football, Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 15:44

I haven’t been posting much about the Adrian Peterson situation, partly because I was still waiting for the picture to clarify and partly because it just depressed the hell out of me to think about it. I agreed with the Vikings’ decision to deactivate Peterson for Sunday’s game against New England, even though it clearly distracted the team and disrupted the game planning: it was the right thing to do. I was shocked and dismayed when the team announced that Peterson would be returning to the team on Monday and would play this weekend in New Orleans.

I wasn’t alone in my reaction: the fans, the media, and even the team’s sponsors reacted very negatively to the announcement. The governor of Minnesota weighed in on the issue and his intervention had to be awkward, as he’d been a major supporter of the team’s campaign to get public funding for their new stadium now under construction. Some Viking players were happy to have Peterson back, but even there the support was not as widespread as it might have been … players from the south were much more vocal in their support than those from elsewhere in the nation.

As Monday wore on, a few more pebbles came loose from the PR dam, as the team learned from one sponsor after another that they were suspending or contemplating ending their promotional relationship with the team. Companies and organizations with a direct relationship to Peterson himself were even more direct: Nike, for example, ordered their retailers in Minnesota to stop selling any items branded with Peterson’s name or number.

The team’s ownership and management met late last night to hammer out a new answer to the PR disaster that had landed on them on Friday and had been made far worse by their Monday decision. Shortly before 1 a.m., the team announced that they’d made a mistake and that Peterson would not be active for the coming game. Instead, he’s being put on the NFL’s little-known exempt list, meaning that he’ll be paid his salary but will not be with the team until his legal issues are resolved. Although he’s being paid, he will not count against the team’s 53-man roster.

ESPN1500‘s Andrew Krammer has more:

Instead of Mike Zimmer and Matt Cassel commanding the podium on a typical Wednesday at Winter Park, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf issued a statement and Mark Wilf, general manager Rick Spielman and team attorney Kevin Warren took questions about getting “it right,” a mantra uttered nearly 30 times in the 17-minute press conference.

Running back Adrian Peterson has been placed on an exempt list, an order directed by the Vikings, agreed to by Peterson and made possible by NFL commissioner Roger Godell’s oversight. The Vikings’ decision comes two days after the team held a similar press conference at the same location announcing Peterson’s reinstatement.

Public outcry from fans, media, sponsors and even Governor Mark Dayton prompted the change, as Mark Wilf said: “We value our partners, sponsors and community, and especially our fans. In the end, it’s really about getting it right.”

Peterson will be paid his full salary while sorting out his legal matters, which assistant DA Phil Grant has reportedly said could take “nine to 12 months” to go to trial, though a judge can lengthen or shorten at his/her discretion.

The $12 million question for the Vikings is: Will Peterson play another game in 2014? If not, will he ever don the Vikings purple again?

“Until these legal matters are resolved, he will remain on this exemption list,” Spielman said.

September 13, 2014

The latest NFL scandal

Filed under: Football, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:33

News broke yesterday that Minnesota Vikings star running back (and former NFL MVP) Adrian Peterson has been accused of reckless or negligent injury to a child. The team announced that Peterson would not play in this weekend’s home opener against the New England Patriots and that any inquiries should be directed to Peterson’s attorney rather than to the team.

Peterson has been the focus of charges before, and the team and the fans rallied around him and the charges were eventually dropped. This is different. This is not a confrontation with a rent-a-cop with delusions of authority. This is much more serious and, if true, shows Peterson in a very bad light indeed.

Jim Souhan expresses much the same feelings I have over the situation:

I hoped it wasn’t true. I hoped that if it turned out to be true, the child was uninjured.

Then I saw the alleged pictures.

I’ll use the words “alleged” and “if” a lot here, just in case Peterson is somehow being wrongly accused.

The pictures detail the wounds that Peterson allegedly inflicted on his 4-year-old son with a switch. The pictures are, allegedly, taken a week after the injuries. The pictures should turn the stomach of any human, and especially anyone who has worried over their child’s skinned knee with a Band-Aid and Neosporin.

If Peterson is guilty, this act would change everything.

I’ve always liked Peterson. I’ve never had reason not to.

For a star, Peterson is friendly and accessible. In terms of work ethic and on-field effort, he has never been anything less than admirable. His teammates like him. Vikings staffers like him.

None of that matters now. If Peterson took a piece of wood and whipped a 4-year-old until the child bled from large welts, he should never play for the Vikings again.

If the charges are true, Peterson will likely face a lengthy suspension. He is 29. By February, the Vikings were already due to begin asking themselves whether they could afford to pay an aging running back like a superstar.

If Peterson viciously beat a 4-year-old, the Vikings may have to consider cutting ties with a player who had a chance to be not only great but forever beloved.

If Peterson is guilty of child abuse, someone, somewhere in the NFL has to stop thinking about wins and losses and begin asking this question: “What kind of league do we want to be?’’

1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer and Phil Mackey have more, including quotations from the police report:

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted by a Montgomery County, Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child, his attorney Rusty Hardin confirmed in a statement to 1500ESPN.com.

Per the statement, Hardin confirmed the charges involve Peterson using a “switch” (a flexible tree branch) to spank his son, adding that Peterson “has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.”

KARE 11 TV has reported an arrest warrant is out, and Peterson plans to travel to Houston to turn himself into authorities.

[...]

Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”

According to police reports, the child, however, had a slightly different story, telling authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” The child also expressed worry that Peterson would punch him in the face if the child reported the incident to authorities. He also said that he had been hit by a belt and that “there are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet.” He added that Peterson put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the switch while his pants were down. The child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”

Peterson, when contacted by police, admitted that he had “whooped” his son on the backside with a switch as a form of punishment, and then, in fact, produced a switch similar to the one with which he hit the child. Peterson also admitted that he administered two different “whoopings” to his son during the visit to Texas, the other being a punishment for the 4-year-old scratching the face of a 5-year-old.

Update: USA Today‘s Tom Pelissero explains the situation both for the NFL and for the Vikings.

December 2, 2013

Vikings win in overtime against Chicago

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:20

The second game in a row that went to overtime against a divisional rival, but unlike last week’s game, the Vikings somehow came away with the win. Christian Ponder started at quarterback, but left the game with concussion symptoms and Matt Cassel stepped in to bring the team back from a 10-point deficit and force overtime. Poor Rhett Ellison was the goat not once but twice on what would have been game-winning plays: allowing an interception at the goal line and then committing a facemask infraction on a field goal attempt.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling:

Ponder had completed just 3-of-8 eight passes for 40 yards before being examined for a concussion in the second quarter on Sunday, and had been sacked twice. The Vikings trailed 20-10 entering the fourth quarter, but Cassel directed two scoring drives to send the game into overtime. He rebounded from an interception that negated another scoring drive when Rhett Ellison couldn’t handle a would-be touchdown pass and the ball wound up in Bears linebacker Khaseem Greene’s hands. In overtime, Cassel marched the Vikings down the field twice more — once for a missed field goal after Ellison’s facemask penalty negated Blair Walsh’s would-be game winner, and another time for the 34-yard kick from Walsh that ended the game.

Cassel finished with 243 yards passing and a touchdown, hitting 20-of-33 passes in relief of Ponder. And while his success might have been due to the fact the Bears hadn’t prepared for him, he might have also put himself back in the race to start next Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, especially if Ponder can’t play.

Frazier has talked on several occasions this year about not considering Cassel as one of his starting options, preferring to keep him in reserve in case of situations such as Sunday’s, and Cassel showed again how much value he has as a veteran backup. But the Vikings also have been hesitant to go back to Freeman after he went 20 of 53 in his one start against the New York Giants, and if Ponder isn’t cleared in time to return, Cassel might get his second start of the season.

At the Star Tribune, Jim Souhan sings the praises of Adrian Peterson, who passed the 10,000 yard career rushing mark during yesterday’s game:

He begins his carries with the upright bearing of Eric Dickerson, and finishes them with the pugilistic mien of Jim Brown. Adrian Peterson bulled and sprinted into the company of legends again on Sunday, passing one of those round-number milestones so rapidly that he again made all of his outlandish goals seem attainable.

Peterson is chasing Emmitt Smith and other fast men now, and like all fast men he will find time to be his most worrisome enemy. At 28, Peterson on Sunday rushed 35 times for 211 yards to reach 10,000 yards faster than any backs in history other than Dickerson, who did it in 91 games, and Brown, who did it in 98.

Smith rushed for an NFL-record 18,355 yards, and while logic and history suggest Peterson will slow to an unsustainable pace long before he challenges that mark, logic has yet to constrain him, and history speaks well of him.

In the first 694 games in Vikings history, one back rushed for 200 yards in a game — Chuck Foreman gaining exactly 200 on Oct. 24, 1976. In his first 101 games, Peterson rushed for 200 yards or more five times.

In NFL history, only one player has had more 200-yard games than Peterson — O.J. Simpson, who had six. Peterson is tied for second with Tiki Barber.

October 18, 2013

Vikings move Harrison Smith to injured reserve list

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:58

Earlier today, the Minnesota Vikings announced that free safety Harrison Smith will be moved to the injured reserve list (but with the designated to return notation so he’s out for at least eight weeks, but not the whole season). Minnesota’s defence was already near the bottom of the league in all measurements even with Smith playing … Monday’s game is starting to look like a great opportunity for the Giants to regain something like their normal form.

In other Vikings news, Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press published an article today calling for the team to trade Adrian Peterson for a boatload of draft picks.

He’s wasting his prime here. And the Vikings need bulk, not one superstar player. So trading Peterson for enough components to jumpstart the team’s development is a sound strategy. It would be tremendously unpopular, of course. But it doesn’t make sense to keep Peterson around for what could be a drawn-out rebuilding process. The team already is a long ways off and likely will be without Jared Allen and Kevin Williams next season.

[...]

Trading Peterson should be seriously considered. It would be good for him and good for the Vikings. He’s out of place here, like a Rolex on the wrist of a hobo.

There are a few problems with this notion, not least of which is that Peterson is a huge fan favourite and it would look very bad for the team to trade him away. It’s also not clear how much of a haul in draft picks any team would be willing to give up for him, as few teams depend as much as the Vikings do on a dominant ground game.

Beyond that, there’s also the concern about what the team would do even if they did get a valuable set of draft picks in exchange for Peterson. This year, the team ended up with three first-round picks, all of whom were expected to contribute on the field.

  • Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is on the field relatively little: less than half as many snaps as Kevin Williams. Maybe it’s those tragically short arms holding him back.
  • Xavier Rhodes is playing more (he’s in the nickel package), but the team considers Josh Robinson a more valuable cornerback than Rhodes because Robinson is the starter over Rhodes. That’d be the same Robinson that comes in dead last among all starting cornerbacks in the league. The guy who has allowed nearly every pass thrown in his direction to be completed.
  • Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson also gets on the field for a token number of snaps per game, but less than any other receiver on the roster.

One has to assume that the coaching staff don’t consider any of the 2013 first-round draft picks to be worth playing much. Given all of that, what hope is there that getting a bunch of extra picks in exchange for reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson would work out any better?

October 13, 2013

Adrian Peterson’s personal tragedy

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:14

I didn’t post about this yesterday, first because the news was still rather confused (some sites claiming other sites had fallen for a cruel hoax) and second because the story was still unfolding. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s son died after what appears to have been a beating from his mother’s boyfriend. This isn’t Adrian Peterson Jr., but another child the media didn’t know about until Friday.

In spite of the tragic news about his son, Adrian Peterson said he intended to play in today’s game against the Carolina Panthers, which has surprised some of the fanbase. The Star Tribune‘s Jim Souhan explains:

Of all the fiery rings of imaginable hell, none could possibly sear the soul like the loss of a child.

Adrian Peterson’s son died this week. This is the worst loss a human can suffer, and it happened in the worst possible way. A man allegedly beat his 2-year-old son to death.

When he was 7, Peterson watched his older brother get hit by a drunken driver and die.

While he attended the NFL combine, he learned of a half-brother being shot and killed.

Now, he has lost a son. He will grieve, and it appears he will play football while grieving.

How do athletes do this? How do they summon the competitiveness to play a game while bearing a heavy heart and a cluttered mind?

How will Adrian Peterson?

To the layman, the concept of playing a game while grieving makes little sense. No one would want to go to the office on the day their son died.

Great athletes are different from us in many ways, and this is one of those ways.

Games are their milieu. As hoary as the cliché has become, teams are their temporary families. The playing field is where they pour out their emotions, where they honor those they love.

If Peterson decides to play on Sunday, he will not be demonstrating insensitivity to his personal tragedy. He will not be displaying misguided priorities, or placing football above real life. There is no correct choice for Peterson to make, only the choice that allows him to grieve as he sees fit.

If he decides to play, he will be honoring his son the best way he knows how.

September 30, 2013

Vikings beat Steelers 34-27 in London for first win of the season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:34

London fans of American-style football must have been worried that the NFL had dumped their worst possible combination of teams into Wembley Stadium for yesterday’s game. Both the Vikings and the Steelers were sporting 0-3 records and their respective fanbases were setting off distress flares and starting to man the lifeboats. On the day, however, both teams put in a very creditable performance and the London fans got one of the best games in the international series as the Vikings ran up a scoring lead and (just barely) managed to hang on to it for the full 60 minutes of play.

Matt Cassel, starting in place of injured starter Christian Ponder, had a very strong game with only a few glitches, but he was bailed out a couple of times by his wide receivers. He ended up with a 123.4 passer rating: 16 of 25 for 248 yards and 2 TDs. Jerome Simpson had 124 yards receiving and Adrian Peterson notched 140 yards rushing on the day with two touchdowns. Greg Jennings had a highlight reel catch-and-run 70-yard touchdown. Blair Walsh started the scoring with a 54-yard field goal, but missed on a shorter kick later in the game (his first miss of the season). He’s now 12-for-12 on field goal attempts longer than 50 yards in his career — a new team record.

The Vikings secondary hadn’t stellar up to this point in the season, but on Sunday they were missing two starting players (CB Chris Cook and S Jamarca Sanford). For the first defensive series, The Daily Norseman suggested that the most appropriate music for them taking the field was Yakkity Sax (the Benny Hill Show theme). It wasn’t as bad as that, but every quarterback the Vikings will face for the rest of the season will be throwing as often as they can to wherever Josh Robinson is on the field … Roethlisberger made him look really bad. To be fair, Robinson is an outside corner and he’s having to play the slot this year, but you’d hope he would be better than he’s showing so far.

Late in the game, Big Ben appeared to suffer an injury to his throwing hand. The CBS announcers made a remarkably dumb comment about it somehow being worse to hit another player’s arm/hand than a helmet. Chris Kluwe’s twitter comment sums up the science behind that:

After giving up the last two games on last-minute scores, the Vikings defence finally managed to close out a game, sacking Roethlisberger close to the goal line and forcing a fumble.

A much-needed win going into the bye week … and the beginnings of a quarterback controversy. Should be a fun two weeks until the next game.

March 23, 2013

How will the new crown of the helmet rule impact Adrian Peterson?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:14

The NFL passed a new rule to penalize hits delivered by ball carriers with the crown of the helmet. Scott Kacsmar at ColdHardFootballFacts.com crunches the numbers from last season to see how much the new rule would have changed Adrian Peterson’s hard-charging ways if it had been in force for that year:

The NFL’s rushing king, Adrian Peterson, is known for his physical running style. If the reigning MVP is going to lose some of his greatness, then that could be a major problem for the league.

Peterson’s recovery story was a big one for the NFL as he is one of the most popular players. You do not hamper your superstars.

That is why we went to the video to study Peterson’s 2011 and 2012 seasons – a total of 556 carries including the playoffs – for just his rushing attempts. Any play is a potential flag, though we wanted to focus on the running game.

At its absolute worst, the Crown Rule would have impacted 1.98 percent of Peterson’s runs the last two years.

Have you breathed a sigh of relief yet? You will after we show you the 11 plays.

[. . .]

Recall how the argument for defenders getting flagged in the same situation was that the offensive player would lower their head, leaving them almost no time to react. No matter which side you play on, it is common for players to get low as they brace for impact.

This could become the trickiest part of enforcing the rule. In several of the Peterson runs, you can see the defender leading with his crown as well. This rule can even the playing field, though how many of these plays will become runs for nothing as offsetting penalties are called?

Again, the Crown Rule should not be a game-changer as long as it is called on only the most blatant of plays. It may take away some fun, physical plays, but it will save the NFL’s ass down the road from lawsuits.

Adrian Peterson is still going to run like a Greek God, though he just may have to spare a mere mortal’s life (like William Gay) the next time he’s in the open field.

February 3, 2013

Adrian Peterson named NFL MVP

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:02

The man who almost single-handedly pushed the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs has won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award (and is the first Viking to win the award since Fran Tarkenton back in 1975):

Adrian Peterson racked up a bunch of awards on the night, starting with the NFL Fantasy Football Player of the Year Award. Peterson thanked the folks that drafted him in fantasy football this year … NO PROBLEM, ADRIAN … because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

The next award Peterson racked up on the evening was the award for NFL Offensive Player of the Year, which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

The biggest highlight, however, was when Peterson was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. This morning, I wondered whether or not Peterson would be able to fend off the challenge of Peyton Manning for the award, and it turns out that he did. In a season that started just eight months after Peterson had surgery on his left knee to repair a torn ACL (among other damage), he put together a season for the ages, rushing for 2,097 yards. That’s the second-highest total in NFL history, and just eight yards fewer than Eric Dickerson’s all-time single-season record of 2,105 yards. He also led the way in taking a Vikings’ team that was a 3-13 disaster the year before to a 10-6 record and a spot in the 2012 NFL playoffs.

There will be some people that will jump up and down and throw a fit about Manning not getting the award, but really … and yes, I’m biased … but Peterson really was the best choice for the award. If you base the award on who had the best season, nobody had a better year in 2012 than Adrian Peterson. If you base the award on who meant the most to their team, nobody meant more to their team than Adrian Peterson meant to the Vikings in 2012.

Judd Zulgad has more:

Peterson, who suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee late in 2011, finished this season with 2,097 yards rushing on 348 carries, giving him an average of 6 yards per attempt, and 12 touchdowns.

His rushing total was the second best in NFL history behind the 2,105 yards that Eric Dickerson had in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams.

Peterson beat out Peyton Manning, who in his first season as Denver’s quarterback contended for a fifth MVP trophy. Manning’s four are a record.

Peterson received 30½ votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning, who also won the Comeback Player of the Year award after missing the 2011 season following neck surgery, got the other 19½ votes for MVP.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized as the league’s most valuable player,” Peterson said in a statement issued by the team. “While the award is considered an individual achievement, I couldn’t have had the success that I did without my teammates, my coaches and the Vikings organization. I’m blessed to be a member of the Vikings, and I hope next year we can get the ultimate team award by bringing a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota.”

January 27, 2013

Another Viking to the Pro Bowl in last-minute switch

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:45

The Minnesota Vikings 2012 season ended at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, but the individual efforts of a number of players has been recognized by nominations to the NFC Pro Bowl team. Originally the Viking contingent consisted of running back Adrian Peterson, fullback Jerome Felton, and rookie kicker Blair Walsh. Alternates who were added to the team included defensive end Jared Allen, linebacker Chad Greenway, and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Yesterday, it was announced that rookie offensive tackle Matt Kalil would be going to Hawaii as an injury replacement for the Washington Redskins’ Trent Williams:

Whoever invented the term “the more the merrier” must’ve been looking into the future at the Vikings’ 2013 Pro Bowl contingent. That contingent stood at six as of Friday morning. And now it stands at seven after the last-second addition of left tackle Matt Kalil to the team. Kalil replaces Trent Williams of the Redskins who dropped out. I think every original member of the team has now dropped out except the four Vikings. And Jeff Saturday who is the one guy who totally does not belong there.

Update: There’s apparently a bit of a backstory to why Williams won’t be playing:

January 12, 2013

Looking back at the ups and downs of the Vikings’ 2012 season

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:22

In the Daily Norseman, Eric Thompson reviews the Minnesota Vikings 10-6 season:

…let’s take a moment to appreciate how surprisingly well the 2012 season went as a whole. I thought the Vikings would finish with the exact inverse of their 10-6 regular season record. I felt that if everything went well for them, maybe they could scratch their way to .500. But the [insert Jim Mora voice here] playoffs? You kiddin’ me?! Only the rubiest of rubes could have predicted that with a straight face before the season. The Vikings struck gold multiple times in the draft: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, and Blair Walsh all made an immediate impact. Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, and Jarius Wright chipped in with noticeable contributions as well. When you come off a 3-13 season where you were the third worst team in the league, you better kick ass in the draft. Rick Spielman & company did just that and it paid off.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your all-world cyborg running back return from major knee surgery to come within nine yards of the single-season rushing record either. Adrian Peterson surprised everyone but himself this year. He put the team (and multiple defenders) on his back time and time again throughout the season. If he doesn’t win the MVP in a few weeks, Webster is going to have to change the definition of “valuable”.

[. . .]

So yeah…about that internal quarterback controversy. The Joe Webb bandwagon didn’t just come to a halt last Saturday. It went down like the Hindenburg. Webb confirmed what Arif, Skol Girl, and I all thought after covering training camp this summer. He’s an amazing athlete — it’s just too bad he can’t throw a football. He has an arm like a Civil War cannon; unfortunately, he also has the accuracy of one. At least in the cannon’s case it was usually OK if you missed the target by a few yards. I’ve always rooted for Joe Webb and marveled at his ridiculous athleticism. But if he’s the backup quarterback again next year, something is seriously wrong. That said, I can’t hate on Webb too much. He was thrust into an impossible situation with virtually no game reps to prepare himself. I didn’t think that the Vikings were going to win that game regardless of who was under center. And outside of the first drive it’s not like the play calling did him too many favors. [. . .]

Christian Ponder’s “Injury”: [. . .] the bruising on Christian Ponder’s arm was there for everyone to see. It was definitely a shock when it was announced Ponder couldn’t go just hours before kickoff. The sudden drastic change in Ponder’s status led people to believe that he was being soft and unwilling to play through pain. I saw all sorts of tweets and comments to the effect of “LOL PONDER’S A WUSS HE DOESN’T WANT TO SUCK AGAINST GB AGAIN” or “DURRR FAVRE WOULD HAVE BEEN OUT THERE WITH BOTH ELBOWS AMPUTATED NO DOUBT”. But then we saw Ponder’s arm, which looked like it talked back to Ike Turner too many times. And Rich Eisen said on his podcast this week that he heard the Vikings knew that Ponder wouldn’t be able to go on Friday night. Not exactly your run of the mill owwie, is it?

December 31, 2012

Vikings beat Packers, earn rematch in first playoff game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:48

I’d craftily planned our entertainment arrangements so that our guests would be arriving just about at the end of the game … and then the league changed the game time so that our guests would be arriving at kickoff instead. So I didn’t get to watch the game yesterday (and tried to not obsessively check my iPhone every minute for updates…)

After jumping out to an early lead, the Vikings hung on to win by a final score of 37-34, on a last-second field goal from rookie Pro Bowler Blair Walsh. The injury bug which had stayed away from the Vikings most of the season made an unwelcome appearance with Antoine Winfield and Harrison Smith both having to leave the game due to injury.

Adrian Peterson nearly broke the NFL’s season rushing record set by Eric Dickerson in 1984, finishing just 8 yards short at 2,097 (he broke the 2,000 yard barrier in the second quarter of the game). All that, and he’ll still probably be snubbed for the MVP award because that is informally confined to quarterbacks only (it’s a very rare year that a non-quarterback wins, and Peyton Manning is having a fantastic season…)


(more…)

December 24, 2012

Houston Texans accomplish one goal: keeping Adrian Peterson in check

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:54

Unfortunately for the Texans, the rest of the Vikings showed up on the field, too. Houston did everything they could to clog the running lanes and get Adrian Peterson running sideways, and with remarkable success. Peterson got a few good runs (25 carries for 86 yards on the day), but generally was not able to find running room. Earlier this year, you’d then assume that the Vikings lost the game by a couple of touchdowns, with a disproportional share of the time-of-possession for Houston, but both assumptions would be incorrect.

Minnesota’s defence looked better than they’ve been in years (according to one Twitter update, this is the fewest points they’ve allowed in a regular season game since the 2007 season opener). The Vikings passing game was not stellar, but it got the job done — especially on the opening drive with some excellent work by Christian Ponder and his receivers (who also had a much better than average game).

My favourite tweet from the end of the game:

While Adrian Peterson didn’t set the NFL rushing record today, The Blair Walsh Project did set a record: “Minnesota’s Blair Walsh kicked a 56-yard field goal against the Houston Texans to set an NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or longer this season. [...] The record was held by two players who had eight in a season. Jason Hanson of Detroit did it in 2008 and Morten Andersen had eight in 1995 with Atlanta.”

Andrew Garda for Bleacher Report:

The stats aren’t huge or anything, but Ponder played one of his better games all season and certainly his best game in the last two months.

Ponder avoided mistakes and, while he regressed for a bit in the second half, made very smart decisions. The offensive line, normally better at run blocking than pass blocking, did a great job of keeping defensive player of the year front-runner J.J. Watt in check, limiting him (and the Texans as a whole) to just one sack.

[. . .]

For a defense which struggled to tackle well and wrap up quarterbacks and running backs alike in the backfield, the four sacks were a big step forward. They assaulted Matt Schaub and kept him from getting anything going. Rookie Harrison Smith was tremendous in the secondary, showing great instincts, hard hitting (which caused a fumble) and a nose for the football.

December 17, 2012

Vikings beat Rams with another stellar Adrian Peterson performance

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:16

This was a do-or-die game for both teams: only the winner would still have playoff aspirations. At 7-6, the Vikings were contending for a wildcard in the NFC North, while St. Louis was in contention in the NFC West with a 6-6-1 record.

The Rams hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in several games and featured strong defensive line performances to clog running lanes and limit opportunities. It worked well: after eight runs, Adrian Peterson had only tallied eight yards. It was the ninth run that broke it open: 82 yards to the end zone for the touchdown (the Vikings never gave up the lead). By the time the Vikings stopped sending Peterson in, he’d gained over 200 yards and was that much closer to breaking Eric Dickerson’s rushing record (2,105 yards, set in 1984). It’s already his best season at 1,812 yards with two games left to play.

The “Blair Walsh Project” continues to prove the wisdom of drafting a kicker: he now owns the Vikings rookie scoring record and made five-of-five of his field goal attempts (53, 50, 42, 38, and 51 yards). It’s the first time a Vikings kicker has hit three field goals from 50 yards or more (and he also tied the NFL record with eight in a season).

December 10, 2012

Vikings keep slim playoff hopes alive in win at home over Chicago

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:10

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game, but Minnesota’s defence covered well for the deficient offensive passing attack with an interception returned for a touchdown and another interception that left the Vikings within a few yards of the Bears’ goal line. The Vikings also caught a lucky break in that the Bears placeckicker, Robbie Gould, hurt his leg during pre-game warm-ups so Chicago had to use their punter for kick-off duty. It also meant that the Bears had to pass up chances for long- to medium-range field goals.

Adrian Peterson was his usual amazing self, posting his seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing game (he’s also only the 12th player in NFL history with multiple 1,600-yard rushing seasons). Brandon Marshall was also his usually effective receiving threat for the Bears: the Vikings had him triple-covered and he’d still haul in the catches.

Tom Pelissero and Judd Zulgad wrap up after the game in a super-heated press box at the Metrodome:

December 3, 2012

Vikings manage only brief moments of offensive effectiveness, lose in Green Bay 23-14

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:24

Green Bay was playing hurt, showing vulnerabilities, and shaky on both offense and defence. Minnesota had Adrian Peterson the cyborg running back going over 200 yards on the ground, but no passing attack at all. During the TV broadcast, even Troy Aikman and Joe Buck were making comments about Christian Ponder having nobody to throw the ball to (nobody open, that is). The first completion to a wide receiver came with less than three minutes remaining in the game. If this continues, the Vikings will have to spend several picks in the 2013 draft on wide receivers…

Dan Zinski at The Viking Age:

What’s the recipe for losing a game when your running back goes for 210 and a touchdown? Measure out a generous amount of bad quarterback play, mix in some terrible third down defense, add a dash of stupid penalties and stir. That was about how it went for the Vikings today. They had a shot at Lambeau Field, thanks mostly to Adrian Peterson, but they blew it. They blew it because Christian Ponder threw two unspeakably awful interceptions. They blew it because the D couldn’t get off the field on third down to save its life. They blew it because they didn’t play with enough discipline.

At the top of the list of culprits today was Christian Ponder. Even his most hardcore defenders have to admit this. He played a miserable game. The interception he threw in the end zone was just about the worst decision you can imagine. Can’t pass that one off on the playcalling or the receivers or the pass protection. That was all on Ponder. It was a throw that never should’ve been made. A second interception later was almost as bad. He just did not look like an NFL quarterback today, outside of one drive in the first half where he led them down for a TD. For most of the game he looked lost. Calls for his benching have been getting louder with each passing week but now they’ve become a roar. But of course the Vikes won’t bench him because they have no one else. Joe Webb is not going to lead this team into the playoffs.

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