On paper the matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins seems likely to be decided by the defense, but what lingers in the memories of the teams’ key offensive players could prove to be the real juggernaut. This is one of those weeks that fans on both sides of the ball may be hoping that their star players can dial back their emotions and keep their focus.
It was this very matchup against the Redskins last year on December 24th that Adrian Peterson sustained what looked to be a career ending injury to his MCL and ACL. It is clear now that it was not the end but the beginning of the next chapter in his career. Despite weekly improvements Peterson has been vocal about the fact that he has yet to reach 100%. Couple that with the fact that he sustained an ankle injury in last week’s game against the Titans and fans may be stuck holding their breath each time he touches the ball. It will be interesting to see if a return to the “scene of the crime” has an emotional impact on AP or not. Although appearing very focused during an interview on Vikings.com, AP admitted he has a little bit of emotion going into this game as well as a little desire for a some revenge on Sunday. Emotion driven or not, it is likely that the Redskins’ defense is going to have to bring their “A” game to avoid a 100-yard revenge rush from this determined Viking.
Peterson isn’t the only player that may want the memories to go away. Redskin QB Robert Griffin III (aka RG3) sustained a concussion in last week’s matchup against the Atlanta Falcons after a huge hit from Sean Weatherspoon that knocked him out cold. With the increased attention being paid to medically clear players after experiencing concussion symptoms the Redskins’ medical personnel will follow the necessary protocols to assure he is fit to take the field. The Redskins’ coaching staff have stated that he will likely be a game time decision. Even if cleared to play it is certain that the hit last week made a lasting impression on the rookie. Big hits don’t just rattle the brain but also the confidence. If he plays it is possible that the Redskins’ game plan will become slightly more conservative for that very reason. It will be key for the Vikings’ defense to bring pressure and force RG3 to think more about being hit than protecting the ball resulting in some rookie style mistakes.
Both of these players remind us that this game we love for all its excitement and intensity has a real element of danger. As fans we hate seeing our favorite players sitting out a game or two, but a healthy player is more likely to create those great moments that we long to see. Moments that leave a lasting memory and bring us back next week wanting more. SKOL!