They say offense sells tickets, but defense wins games, and in Minnesota’s case, that seems to prove true. But there is one man whose weekly performances refuse to let the defense take all the credit.
I know he seems to keep coming up in most Vikings-related articles, but with a young quarterback and the absence of a superstar wide receiver, Adrian Peterson has been the offensive threat that has kept the team dangerous with the ball. Even with the uncertainty of his injury entering the season, the Vikings always seem to find Peterson coming up big for the offense.
AP ran for a season-high 153 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Cardinals last Sunday, despite the Viking offense totaling a season-low of 209 yards. That included a disappointing, season-low 58 yards thrown by Christian Ponder. Numbers like these have plopped them a measly 27th in the league for passing yards per game. Fans may not get to see many jaw-dropping, game-changing passes thrown this season, but what they lack in their passing, they put in Peterson’s hands.
“We’re definitely relying on our run game,” Coach Leslie Frazier says. “And that’s not a bad thing.” And who wouldn’t agree, with the running back on track to set a record this weekend with his 30th 100-yard rushing game? Last year against the Buccaneers, AP ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to bring them the win. Hopefully this year’s performance produces a different result. But Greg Schiano knows very well what he’s got coming this Thursday. “…He runs with an attitude,” the Tampa Bay coach said of Peterson. “We need to play run defense with an attitude. We have and we will.”
I think everyone can agree on AP’s strength as a running back, but one man can’t single handedly win games. Getting back to my initial statement of the article, he needs help. And that help comes in the form of seven big guys, also known as the defensive front line. Led by Brian Robison and Jared Allen, the squad had a total of seven sacks against the Cardinals bringing their season total to 22 and a tie for third in the league. Impressively, they also give up an average of only 319.7 yards per contest which is ninth in the league, and includes holding players like Larry Fitzgerald to only 29 in this past Sunday’s win. Without these guys, it’s safe to say we’d be watching very different outcomes for Minnesota.
A win this Thursday against the Buccaneers would mean a 5-0 start at home for the Vikes. The match up should be interesting, seeing that Tampa Bay’s run defense is third-best in the league. But their passing defense only ranks them 31st. This either means all eyes on Ponder in hopes of a breakthrough performance, OR we must rely on yet another unstoppable, better-than-last-week showing from AP. I guess we’ll see.