Tom Powers: Vikings come in off the ledge, for now
By Tom Powers St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota is quickly nestling into the rhythms of Vikings football: panic, relief, euphoria ... rinse and repeat. On Sunday, Vikings fans grabbed hold of a beer-soaked lifeline and staggered the...
By Tom Powers
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota is quickly nestling into the rhythms of Vikings football: panic, relief, euphoria ... rinse and repeat.
On Sunday, Vikings fans grabbed hold of a beer-soaked lifeline and staggered their way in from the ledge. Everyone seemed ready to plunge after the 49ers debacle last week. Now folks are resting fairly comfortably and breathing into paper bags. All it took was a 26-16 home-field victory over the Detroit Lions.
“You can all stay on the ledge if you want to,” Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “You know, we don’t mind. It’s OK.”
Well, it’s dangerous. A fumble or an interception, and perpetually tortured Vikings followers could dive into the scrap heap without a moment’s notice.
“We just know what kind of team we’ve got,” Munnerlyn said. “And we did a great job today.”
“It shows that when you’re locked and loaded and you’ve got everything going, we’re going to be hard to beat,” said defensive end Everson Griffen, who seems in constant need of a tranquilizer dart. “We’ve just got to be us. Be the Vikings and nobody else.”
Sunday’s game wasn’t about the outcome. Halfway decent teams, playing at home, are supposed to beat the Detroit Lions. Instead, it was about presentation. How would the Vikings look while beating the Lions? A week earlier, the Minnesota offensive players all appeared to have two left feet and the defense seemed in need of an oil can.
Most important, Adrian Peterson was nothing more than an apparition against the 49ers.
He was barely involved and, when his number was called, did next to nothing. Frankly, he was the primary reason for the crowded ledge.
Yet on Sunday, as the diehards grabbed hold of the lifeline and inched their way back inside, they no doubt were thrilled to see a business-like Adrian holding the other end of the rope and pulling them forward. No rented camels or irritating agents, just the familiar No. 28 breathing fire.
Peterson carried 29 times for 134 yards. He also caught two passes for 58 yards.
One of the catches resulted in a key 49-yard gain and came under the darnedest circumstances. On third-and-2, Teddy Bridgewater dropped back to pass. Peterson was kept in to block (insert your own joke here).
Anyway, to no one’s surprise, A.P.’s man blew past him and crashed into Bridgewater. As he was going down in a heap, Bridgewater shoveled the ball to Peterson, who was just standing there, probably wondering where his blocking assignment went. Peterson took the little flip and raced away. The entire play was the result of his missing his block.
“Yeah, but he made the run,” Mike Zimmer noted.
There is that.
“He’s got to hold onto the ball better, but he ran with a vengeance today,” Zimmer said of Peterson. “It’s good for Adrian, but it’s good for us as well. It’s good for the fans. They’re used to seeing this big 28 come in there barreling down. There was a third and 1 when he ran over somebody to covert that.”
On the flip side, Peterson was fumbling as if he were playing in another NFC championship game. But he got a couple of breaks there, too. Of his three fumbles, one was called back because of a Detroit penalty and one he recovered himself.
“This was an awful good victory under the circumstances,” Zimmer said. “You never think there’s ‘must wins’ at the beginning of the year like this. But to have a division team at home after a loss last week was very, very important for this football team.”
“We played bad last weekend,” said safety Harrison Smith. “We had a chance to redeem ourselves a little bit. But there’s a long way to go, and it’s a long season. We still made a lot of mistakes. A win is a win.”
So the presentation, although far from flawless, was good enough to soothe shattered nerves and calm upset stomachs. Two weeks in, and everyone is relieved to know that it ain’t over yet. It just felt that way for a week.
“I told somebody after last week’s loss it felt like we were 0-10 and not 0-1,” Zimmer said. “We had a lot of grouchy players, grouchy coaches.”
And grouchy fans. Just look at the wild mood swings over the first two games. Even more mind-boggling, imagine the emotional turmoil that lies ahead on the road to a probable 8-8 record. Better lock that window that leads to the ledge.
Better yet, move into the basement until February. Just to be safe.
The Pioneer Press is in a media partnership with Forum News Service.
Vikings come in off the ledge, for now