Adrian Peterson strengthens his case for both the Most Valuable Player and Comeback Player of the Year honors with another jaw-dropping performance in the Show Me State on Sunday. This beast ran for 212 yards and one touchdown as the Vikings keep their playoff hopes alive with a crucial win. Their defense played pretty well and the offensive unit was able to piece together one of its best games of the season. Bill Musgrave had it working with an excellent balance of run and pass plays, along with some great play designs and unpredictability. Christian Ponder was solid, hitting on 17/24 pass attempts for 131 yards. Sam Bradford tried to match Peterson’s monster game with a career high 377 yards through the air (with three touchdowns). Steven Jackson became just the 27th player in NFL history to eclipse the 10,000 yard-rushing mark with his 73 on the ground. St Louis did not roll over after trailing 30-7 at halftime, but the Vikings proved to be too much at the end of the day with a two score win.
Besides Adrian Peterson, the best thing the Vikings had going for them in this game was their pass-rush. They were able to wrestle Bradford to the ground four times and got in his face with great consistency. Sam hardly got a chance to scan the field and was hurried into some inaccurate passes. Everson Griffen had a huge game, contributing to the Vikings season-high 36 points with a pick-six in the fourth quarter. Blair Walsh was amazing in this one, hitting on all five of his field goal attempts; three of them from over 50 yards. This game is the very definition of a team effort for the Vikings; they played great during all three phases in this one and were very deserving of a win.
Much is to be said about the Rams’ comeback attempt in this one. They trailed by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and came pretty darn close to forcing the Minnesota sideline to sweat a little bit. They brought it inside the red-zone with less than 80 seconds left, but then failed to convert on fourth down, which ended the game for St Louis. It was very admirable to see the Rams fight until the bitter end for Jeff Fisher. It can be very deflating to let an opposing running-back run for over 200 yards while trailing by three scores. However, Bradford showed some courage and made some nice throws down the stretch while bringing his team to within striking distance. At one point, the game was 33-22. That is a deficit that could easily be comeback from. So, hats off to Rams offense for not quitting and making a game out of something that looked to be a blowout at halftime. This shows that the team has a lot of character and heart, which will bode well for them as the team goes forward into next season.
The Minnesota Vikings do have it stacked against them in their final two games of the year (at Houston and vs. Green Bay), but they have themselves in a position where they can make the playoffs if they win out. Since the Bears dropped to 8-6, the Vikings are now tied with them. Minnesota does hold the tie-breakers as well (with a better division record). If they are able to squeak into the playoffs, then they will have earned it. All any Vikings fan can hope for is to see their team play with heart, poise, and a little bit of swagger. They showed all of the above in this game and are looking like a team on the raise as the season nears its conclusion.