#1 – Adrian Peterson Is Historic
Adrian Peterson broke Jamal Lewis’s single-game rushing record by one slim yard yesterday. And there was actually a moment when it didn’t look like Adrian was going to get back in the game to get the last few yards he needed to surpass 295 – but Brad Childress came to his senses for once, and sent AD out there to take his shot at history.
It was a rather unlikely record-breaking performance, for various reasons. One, because Adrian had only 43 yards at the half. Two, because the San Diego Chargers actually have a very good run defense, anchored by defensive tackle Jamal Williams, who may actually be better than either of the Vikings‘ Williamses. And three, because the Chargers were keying on Adrian all day, playing 8 and sometimes 9 in the box, and basically daring the Vikings to pass on them.
Brad Childress did not accept the Chargers’ dare. Viking QBs attempted only 22 passes yesterday, 12 by Tarvaris Jackson before he got his bell rung and was carted off, and 10 more by Brooks Bollinger. Chilly basically said to the Chargers, “You know what we do, and we know you know, but try and stop our guy anyway.” They couldn’t.
#2 – Owning Shawne Merriman
Adrian Peterson owns Shawne Merriman. On successive plays, AD upended Lights Out while picking him up on a pass play, then ran around him to get the edge for one of his bigger gains. Merriman clearly thought he had AD on the run play, but AD’s speed was more than the All-Pro linebacker expected.
Merriman was not happy after the game, saying:
It’s not just disappointing, it’s embarrassing. I don’t give a damn they beat us. It’s how they beat us. That [bleep] is not tolerated. You lose sometimes, but you never stop fighting. You go out there and battle. We got embarrassed.
So Merriman’s saying the team quit. I don’t buy it. I think they plain got manhandled. Steam-rolled by the Viking O-Line and then carved up by Adrian. Sour grapes, Lights Out. Sour grapes.
#3 – And The Defense Wasn’t Bad Either
The Vikings played their best defensive game all-around yesterday, holding the previously high-powered Chargers offense to 229 total yards. They limited LaDanian Tomlinson, the former best running back in the NFL, to 40 yards on 16 carries, and 37 yards on 6 catches. They gave up only one catch for 10 yards to Antionio Gates, a guy who was supposed to give them nightmares. Their blitzes clearly discombobulated Philip Rivers, who completed only 19-of-42 for 197 yards and was picked off once.
E.J. Henderson was the defensive MVP – he was in the backfield all day, bothering Rivers, making huge tackles on Tomlinson. And Cedric Griffin really stepped up too, especially during the Chargers’ last-gasp drive in the 4th, when he knocked what would’ve been a TD catch away from Gates (getting away with a face-mask in the process).
The Winfield-less secondary played their best game of the year – but was also given several gifts. Chris Chambers had two big plays ruined, one by a penalty, one by his own failure to turn toward the ball as it was coming. The refs called offensive interference on Vincent Jackson for supposedly knocking down Cedric on a play where Cedric clearly fell on his own. And there was San Diego’s general inability to work Antonio Gates into the game.
#4 – Best Run-Blocking Offensive Line In The NFL?
When your running back has over 1,000 yards after only 8 games, including two 200-plus performances and the single-game record, does your offensive line not then have to be considered among the best in the league if not the best?
It’s not just McKinnie (who played his best game of the year yesterday), Hutch and Birk (who has reasserted his position as the best pulling center in the league). It’s also Anthony Herrera and, dare I say it, Ryan Cook. Some of the holes yesterday were gigantic, on the right side as well as the left.
And don’t forget about the downfield blocking by guys like Sydney Rice and Robert Ferguson. And Jimmy Kleinsasser, who is back to plowing people like he used to when he was considered maybe the best blocking tight end in the league.
#5 – Bollinger vs. Jackson
A lot of big problems get smoothed over when your running back breaks off a 296 yard, 3 TD game. But after the thrill of that has faded, there still remains this fact – the Vikings are a mess at quarterback.
The first half of yesterday’s game looked a lot like what the Vikings have been doing all year. Tarvaris Jackson was not playing well. Defenses were keying on the run and clogging things up. Then Jackson got kneed in the head by a diving Shawne Merriman and Brooks Bollinger came in. And, on successive plays, was sacked and had Matt Birk’s perfectly good shotgun snap sail right past his head.
Something happened in the second half though. Brooks completed a couple of nifty play-action passes, and suddenly the Chargers seemed less locked onto Adrian. That was when things opened up. Call me crazy, but it just seems like Childress uses more of the playbook when Bollinger is in. More screens. More play-action. Which begs the question – if Childress clearly has more confidence in Brooks to run more of the playbook, why isn’t Brooks the starter?
The QB situation is a mess largely because Chilly has made it a mess – by selling himself on the idea that Tarvaris is one good game away from being a solid NFL QB. Tarvaris did nothing in yesterday’s game to demonstrate that he’s gotten any better – yet, you can bet that Tarvaris will be back as the starter as soon as the cobwebs clear.
Of course it’s Chilly’s job, and if he wants to place it in the hands of Tarvaris Jackson, it’s no skin off my nose. However, if Brad wants to keep running Tarvaris out there, he needs to stop insisting that T-Jack “gives the team the best chance to win.” Anyone who’s watched Bollinger play can see he’s better than T-Jack, and the team clearly plays better with Bollinger behind center. It’s not that Bollinger’s great either – he isn’t. But, I’m sorry, the offense just looks crisper when he runs it, the ball gets out faster, he stands in against the rush better than Tarvaris, receivers are hit in stride when he throws it – basically, Bollinger is superior to Tarvaris, and therefore gives us a better chance to win than Tarvaris. And Chilly knows this too, no matter what he says.
Tags: Adrian Peterson Anthony Herrera Antoine Winfield Brad Childress Brooks Bollinger Bryant Mckinnie Cedric Griffin E.j. Henderson Jim Kleinsasser Matt Birk Minnesota Vikings Robert Ferguson Ryan Cook Steve Hutchinson Sydney Rice Tarvaris Jackson