The Vikings are now 5-1 at home and 2-0 against the Lions. How did they do it? By getting back to the formula they used so successfully early in the season. Lots of Adrian Peterson. Christian Ponder playing sound, mistake-free football. And the defense doing enough.
The game was a little bit more of a high-scoring affair than people probably expected. The key for the Vikings was getting up early and staying up. The Vikes struck right away when Christian Ponder hit Jarius Wright – yes, that Jarius Wright – on a 54-yard bomb down the middle of the field. Wright scored a couple plays later to put the Vikings on top. And they would stay on top the rest of the game.
It wasn’t always pretty for the Vikes but then again it never is. Much of the game was just a matter of grinding out yards, getting a field goal here and there, and trying to play sound defense. The Lions helped out with an overly conservative game plan in the early going. The Vikes tried to get physical with Calvin Johnson again and it worked for awhile, but the Lions eventually got their passing game going and threatened the Vikings defense. The Vikes’ pass rush was not up to snuff to be honest, and that helped Matthew Stafford operate. Calvin Johnson ended up having a big day and the Lions were able to momentarily crawl back into it.
And then Adrian Peterson did this and it was game over. Actually it was game over on the ensuing Lions series when Jamarca Sanford forced Megatron to fumble and the Vikes recovered. A big play on offense followed by a big play on defense to put the dagger in.
Peterson was great, the defense was good enough and the O-line was better, but the story today was Christian Ponder. After weeks of struggles Ponder finally looked like the player we saw earlier in the year. He was crisp in his decision-making and accurate with his throws. He stepped up in the pocket a couple times to make plays. He pulled the ball down and ran when he had to. With Percy Harvin out, Ponder found a new go-to guy in Kyle Rudolph.
What made the difference? Was it Bill Musgrave’s tweaks? The route running? The pass protection? Ponder’s confidence going up after the early big play to Jarius Wright? A combination of all of these? The Lions certainly helped out with some bad tackling and worse coverage. But the Vikes don’t have to apologize for beating what is obviously not a great defense. The offensive guys did their jobs. And when they needed the dagger, AD stepped up. The Vikes move to 6-4 on the year and will go into the bye week still alive in the playoff race.
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