Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) passes against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Scoring the Offense: Analyzing the Vikings Week 17 Win Over the Packers

POSITION GRADES

Offensive Line

Grade: A

  • Sacks allowed – 1 sack, 7 yards

Our offensive line had a few hiccups (see: Matthews, Clay), but overall, they did pretty well against the Packers. Wherever Matthews moved, he tended to be a disruptive force on the line, pressuring Ponder out of the pocket or into quick throws and even stopping Adrian in the backfield a few times. Of course, it was Matthews who recorded the Packers’ only sack of the day, beating Matt Kalil in the first quarter. Phil Loadholt had a tough day compiling taunting, false start and holding penalties and getting beat plenty of times in both the passing and running games.

  • Rushing yards gained – 217 yards on 37 carries (5.9 yards/carry)

The Vikings seemed to enforce their will on the Packers, especially in the first half, just pushing the weak Packers defense around. It was clear the Vikings just wanted this one more. Even though the Packers did everything they could to stop Adrian, he came within nine yards of Eric Dickerson’s record, and that was only because the Vikings just ran out of time. Put another minute on that clock, and AD has the record. Make no mistake, as much as the Vikings enforced their will on the Packers defense on Sunday, they will have to do so ten-fold in the Wild Card rematch to come away victorious.

 

Wide Receiver

Grade: C-

Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Musgrave is in love with that play where Wright either motions into or lines up in the backfield and then comes out as a receiver on the flat, and I can see why, it works. I’m just concerned that the Packers will be ready for it in the playoffs, and so will the team we play in the divisional round (see what I did there?)

Simpson was so proud of himself after this game that he lashed out at 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero (or “Tom Presso” in Simpson’s words) for criticizing his play all season. Really, Jerome? This is the game that you decided to use as your “answer” to all the critics? Really proved us wrong.

Consistent and reliable. And in big moments, Jenkins has made the catches. We all know what he’s not, but there’s room on this team for what he is.

 

Tight End

Grade:  D-

It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a bloated contract. Yet.

 

Running Back

Grade: A+

  • Adrian Peterson – 34 carries, 199 yards, 5.9 yds/carry, 1 TD, 1 rec, 2 yards (2 targets), 1 rec TD

Ugh, so close. It’s heartbreaking, truly. Almost to the point where I wanted the Vikings to give him one more run with 20 seconds left in the game because I wanted to see him break the record. Then reality sunk in. It’s too bad he didn’t get it, but he single-handedly carried the Vikings into the playoffs. Peterson is, without a doubt, the MVP of the league. If he doesn’t win, they may as well rename the award “Best Quarterback.”

And the best part about this guy? He was fine that he didn’t get the record; he was just happy the Vikings made the playoffs. Seriously, that’s admirable to a point of near insanity.

 

Quarterback

Grade: A+

  • Christian Ponder – 16 for 28, 234 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, QB-Rating: 120.2, 2 carries, 16 yards

Yeah, I did it. I gave Ponder a perfect grade. And before you scroll down to leave a comment about how I’m some hack that doesn’t know anything (that’s only, like, 78% true), let me explain.

I don’t think Ponder had a perfect game, far from it. He made some bad decisions, like that ridiculous completion (that really wasn’t) to Jarius Wright when Ponder got creamed by Morgan Burnett. No way Ponder should have thrown that ball. He saw he was about to get slammed and the evil twin inside Christian Ponder took over and forced him to throw up that joke of a pass that looked like one of Chris Kluwe’s shanks. As luck would have it, the Packers couldn’t come down with it and Jarius Wright was able to make it look like he made the diving catch off the deflection. So, completion and avoided catastrophe. Not excusable, but avoided.

Ponder also had a few throws that were off target. Nothing to get too upset over. One particular throw to Michael Jenkins in the end zone was just outside of his diving, outstretched fingers. That’s a tough miss, especially since Jenkins doesn’t get open too often, but the Vikings scored a touchdown later on that drive anyway, so, well, you know.

But Ponder had some great throws and delivered in a few crucial moments as well, like that 65-yard completion to Jarius Wright in the fourth quarter. Ponder completed five passes to convert third-down conversions. He led the team in the biggest game of the season and the biggest game of his career against a very good divisional opponent.

Ponder was playing for his career and the Vikings season, and he delivered. He deserves the credit.

Now feel free to comment below that I’m just some hack who doesn’t know anything.

PonderWatch

Ponder’s first and second down completion percentage goal75%

Weekly first and second down completion percentage:

  • Week 1 vs. Jacksonville: 17-20, 85%
  • Week 2 at Indianapolis: 17-22, 77%
  • Week 3 vs. San Francisco: 14-24, 58%
  • Week 4 at Detroit: 9-16, 56%
  • Week 5 vs. Tennessee: 21-28, 75%
  • Week 6 at Washington: 25-38, 66%
  • Week 7 vs. Arizona: 6-11, 55%
  • Week 8 vs. Tampa Bay: 14-23, 61%
  • Week 9 at Seattle: 9-17, 53%
  • Week 10 vs. Detroit: 16-22, 73%
  • Week 12 at Chicago: 11- 26, 42%
  • Week 13 at Green Bay: 10-18, 56%
  • Week 14 vs. Chicago: 5-10, 50%
  • Week 15 at St. Louis: 14-17, 82%
  • Week 16 at Houston: 7-17, 41%
  • Week 17 vs. Green Bay: 8-17

YTD first and second down completion percentage: 203-326, 62%

 

WEEK 17 OFFENSIVE MVP

Adrian Peterson

Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

199 yards. just short of the record, but nothing short of unbelievable. With a shot at a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Packers knew all they needed to do was stop AD to seal up a victory over the Vikings. Well, at least they tried.

 

OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME

Christian Ponder 65-yard Pass to Jarius Wright

How could it be anything else? Late in the fourth quarter, all anyone expected was for the Vikings to turn around, hand the ball to Adrian and watch as he carried the Vikings (and about 5 Packers trying to tackle him) to the other end of the field and win the game. But instead, Bill Musgrave called a play-action go-route for Jarius Wright.

Don’t tell me that wasn’t the most exciting point in the game. I know you looked around the room and said, “Did Christian Ponder just throw that ball?” We’ve been waiting two years to see that pass, and it finally came.

And it was glorious.

 

ROOKIE WATCH

Matt Kalil

Kalil again struggled against Clay Matthews, but considering he is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, the rookie should get a little bit of a pass. Disappointing to see it happen twice, but Kalil has one more chance to pay him back on Saturday.

Jarius Wright

It would have been a very ordinary day for Jarius had it not been for the 65-yard reception in the fourth quarter. That catch may also have been the difference between a Vikings win and a Vikings loss.

Blair Walsh

A fitting end to an unbelievable rookie regular season, Walsh again finished perfect for the day and, of course, nailed the game-winning field goal (twice, eh, Mike McCarthy?).

·         vs. GB: 3/3 FGs (29, 37, 54), 4 touchbacks

·         YTD FG Percentage: 35-38, 92%

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME?!

Christian Ponder had the NFL’s second-best QBR in the final four games of the season (86.8).

Ponder’s 94.6 QBR vs. Green Bay in Week 17 was the NFL’s highest vs. Green Bay since 2011. Ponder also had the lowest vs. Green Bay since 2011 in Week 13.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 409 yards against Green Bay this year.

Peterson finished the season averaging 4.1 yards per carry after contact. Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray averaged 4.1 yards per carry total.

Of Peterson’s 199 rushing yards against the Packers, 189 of them came after contact.

Ponder’s 2012 season QB rating before getting married: 78.6; after getting married: 100.4.

Peterson had 10 100+ yard games this season.

 

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