Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings Defense Carry Team To Win...Get Used To It
The Vikings finally turned over a new leaf on Sunday, collecting their first victory of the season.
It started out rocky, as Brett Favre threw an early interception that led to a Detroit Lions touchdown. Favre didn't look terrible, but again looked fairly rusty facing a poor Lions pass defense.
Favre mustered just 201 yards on 34 attempts with a touchdown and two interceptions. He continues to look his age in 2010.
Granted, Favre was a slow starter last season and can obviously still play at a high level. But we can't expect 2009 from him. It's not going to happen.
Sunday was the beginning of a pattern we can expect for the rest of the season: Adrian Peterson and the stout Vikings defense will carry this team.
Peterson continues to run with tenacity while protecting the football. He has zero fumbles through three games to go with 392 yards, three touchdowns, and a Peterson-of-old 5.6 yards per carry.
In reality, the run blocking has not really been better than last year, it has been merely adequate.
However, Peterson has run like the best running back in football. No disrespect to Chris Johnson, who had a solid day on Sunday, but Peterson looks unstoppable right now.
He cannot be tackled.
On Peterson's 80-yard touchdown run, he weaved through traffic, delivered a ferocious stiff arm, then simply outran the Lions secondary.
On multiple occasions through the first three games, Peterson has delivered impossible broken tackles, jukes, and bursts of speed. He simply will not go down without at least three defenders getting a lick in.
Not to mention, on Sunday, Peterson faced eight men in the box nearly all game long. Something Peterson saw less and less of last year with Favre and Sidney Rice connecting on deep passes.
Hats off to Peterson, who obviously put in a lot of hard work this offseason to get better. It will take a whole season to show it, but he looks like the best running back in football right now.
Another hats off to the Vikings defense. This unit looks much better than anticipated before the season.
Even when the offense falters, the defense is picking up the slack.
While they delivered just one sack, the Vikings hit quarterback Shaun Hill six times. They also forced two interceptions while giving up just 237 yards through the air. This despite the Lions attempting 43 passes.
The Vikings also gave up just 63 yards on the ground, despite a 21-yard reverse play by the Lions.
Overall, the Vikings secondary looks vastly improved. The front four have not produced a consistently nagging pass rush like last year, but coverage downfield has been excellent.
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook did a great job in his first major action and Cedric Griffin looked healthy after returning from a torn ACL.
A first-year starter at safety, Hussain Abdullah looked significantly improved over his first two games. He was on-time to the ball for the most part and made a couple big plays.
Overall, the Vikings defense did a great job on Sunday, as they have through each game this season.
Granted, this first victory came against the lowly Lions. There is no reason to immediately start dreaming of the Super Bowl, but there is hope.
Despite losing their first three games, the Lions played close with the 2-0 Chicago Bears and the 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles. This is a significantly improved Lions team. Beating the Lions in 2010 means more than beating them in 2009.
However, the Vikings need to show they can beat a legitimate contender. They'll have that chance in weeks five through eight.
The Vikings will face difficult tasks when they meet up with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots in consecutive weeks.
Three of those games are on the road as well.
To win those games, the Vikings need to take note of Sunday's game against the Lions:
Rely on the defense and Adrian Peterson to win football games. Hope for the occasional Favre-to-Harvin or Favre-to-Shiancoe hook-up, but above all, rely on Peterson and the defense.
The defense is certainly good enough to hold up against any team in football. They showed that when they held Drew Brees and the Saints to just 14 points.
The Vikings can win their next few games, but they will have to play their best football and avoid costly turnovers. Favre needs to protect the ball better and quit making risky throws.
If the Vikings can get away from relying on Favre to win every game, dish the rock to Peterson, and hit opponents in the mouth on both sides of the ball, they will have success. Just like they did on Sunday.
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