Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are tied with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North.
By Jordan Wright
After squeaking by the St. Louis Rams 21-18 on Sunday the Vikings improved to 6-2. Combine that with a Green Bay loss to Carolina, and all of a sudden the upcoming game between these two teams has gotten a lot more interesting.
Adrian Peterson was the star of this game. Peterson carried the ball 29 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a couple passes for an additional 18 yards. In the fourth quarter and overtime, when the game was close, Peterson touched the ball 11 times for 65 yards. For all the talk about the Ram’s rookie running back Todd Gurley, it was Peterson who shined brightest on this day. Something tells me Peterson didn’t want to be out done by the rookie, especially on his home turf. Peterson did have a couple fumbles, but luckily the team was able to overcome them. As my grandpa told me after the game, “this is the first time I’ve seen Adrian look like Adrian all season.”
Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out in the fourth quarter by a dirty hit while he was sliding to the turf. In a move that shocked no one, a defense led by Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams took a cheap shot on the opposing quarterback. If the name Gregg Williams sounds familiar, it should. He was the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints who took multiple cheap shots at Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game in 2009. Williams was later found to be guilty of putting “bounties” out on opposing teams, essentially paying his players for each injury they caused. During his post-game presser, Mike Zimmer called the hit a “cheap shot”, and even said “If we were on the street, we probably would have had a fight” in regards to Gregg Williams.
The player of the game is Linval Joseph, a player who doesn’t get nearly the amount of attention he deserves. Coming into this game against the Rams, Joseph was Pro Football Focus’ seventh best rated interior defender. Linval has been an anchor on the defensive line, and this might have been his best game of the season. The position he plays dictates that Joseph takes on two blockers most plays, freeing up the rest of the defense to take advantage of their one on one matchups. He might not get much attention from the national media, but he’s this week’s player of the week.
This was a tough week to pinpoint the player who needs the most improvement. But after re-watching the game, Harrison Smith was a ghost. In a game that was mostly running plays and short passes, Harrison should have had a great day statistically. Unfortunately for Harry the Hitman, he was mostly quiet. Besides sharing a tackle with Linval Joseph, Harrison Smith only had a quarterback hit beside his name in the stat sheet (according to ESPN). Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs (1) was even credited with more tackles than Smith!
Looking ahead, the Vikings play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 15. This game will be at 3:05 p.m., unlike most Vikings games that start at noon. Oakland is a team who is vastly improved from the Oakland teams of recent memory. Offensively, the Raiders are led by the up and coming quarterback/wide receiver duo of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. Defensively, the Raiders have a good mix of youth and veteran leadership with players like Khalil Mack and Charles Woodson. If the Vikings get Teddy back in time for this game, it will be a competitive game between two up and coming teams. I might be a little biased, but I’m taking the Vikings in this one.