This is a good time to whip out the old “an ugly win is still a win” line. Obviously the Vikings will take it. But at the same time they surely realize they have a lot to work on especially on the offensive side of the ball. The passing game today was just unspeakably bad. Some of it was pass protection, some of it was playcalling, and a lot of it was Christian Ponder. This was by far Ponder’s worst performance of the 2012 season. He made terrible decisions at times, and when he tried making the right throw, he wasn’t particularly accurate. Sometimes stats are deceiving but on this day, the passing stats tell the true story of how it went. Ponder was 8/17 for 58 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 picks.
The touchdown was on a short, well-designed red zone pass play to Percy Harvin. So, congratulations to the Vikings. They got in the red zone and punched it in. That was early on. In the second half, the passing game evaporated completely. Ponder looked totally overwhelmed every time he dropped back. His decision making was sometimes awful. The play that stands out happened during a completely bizarre sequence at the end of the second quarter. The Vikings got the ball back on a Cardinals punt but were pinned deep in their territory. Everyone on earth expected them to just kneel down or hand off and let the clock run. Instead they tried to pass. With only 14 seconds left on the clock and the Vikings nowhere near being in range for a score, Leslie Frazier called a time out so Bill Musgrave could dial up a pass play. Ponder tried to scramble and make something happen but only ended up throwing a terrible interception. This gave the Cardinals a chance to kick a long field goal which thankfully they missed. Why call the time out? Why call a pass play with a struggling quarterback? And if you’re Ponder, why compound the inanity by trying to make something happen?
It was that kind of day for the Vikings. Unaccountable stuff happening all over. Penalties too numerous to count. Mental mistakes. Terrible tackling. And yet they pulled it out. This was a testament to two things above all: Adrian Peterson, and the defense’s ability to make a big play when needed. No play was bigger than Harrison Smith’s pick-six early in the third. And Brian Robison added three big sacks. Jared Allen and Antoine Winfield also came up big. It wasn’t a great performance overall by the defense – too many rushing yards allowed, too many missed tackles, not enough consistent pass rush early – but they rose up when it was needed. And Adrian Peterson battered the Cardinals’ defense for 153 yards and one touchdown. Without Adrian and the playmakers on defense, the result would’ve been very different. Those guys got little help from their quarterback and coaches. How will the Vikes get this cleaned up? They’ve only got till Thursday to work it out. The quick turn-around will be a challenge for everyone involved. But at least they got this win under their belts.
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