The Minnesota Vikings were forced to get Percy Harvin more involved in the game plan Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. With Adrian Peterson out with an ankle injury, the Vikings turned to Harvin as their main playmaker.
Harvin did not let them down.
Despite ending up on the losing end of a 24-14 game in Atlanta, Harvin responded with season highs in touches, catches and receiving yards. He also scored a 39-yard touchdown on a seam route that had him matched up against a linebacker. This was a new strategy for the Vikings, who haven't used Harvin as a deep receiver much at all this year, despite his speed.
Harvin, who's in his third NFL season, caught eight passes for 95 yards and carried the ball five times for 11 yards. Harvin was also used as the Vikings goal line back on two straight plays in the fourth quarter. On one of his runs, it looked as if he scored on a 1-yard plunge, but was ruled down by the officials.
Harvin was also responsible for setting up that goal line situation with a 104-yard kickoff return. He just missed scoring a touchdown when he was tackled at the 1-yard line. Harvin's 104-yard return was the longest play in NFL history that did not result in a touchdown.
Harvin finished Sunday with 210 total yards. According to the Minnesota Vikings PR department, in 40 career games, Harvin has seven games with 200-plus total yards, which is a franchise record.
The Vikings have said for weeks that they want to get Harvin more involved in the offense, and recently they have. In the past four games, Harvin has 24 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing). In the previous seven games, Harvin had 27 receptions for 276 yards and zero touchdowns.
One of the main reasons for Harvin's recent success is the play of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder replaced Donovan McNabb as the Vikings starter in Week 7 and has established a good report with Harvin.
Also, Harvin appears to have rid himself of the debilitating migraine headaches that forced him to miss games and practices last season. When he's healthy, he's pound-for-pound one of the toughest players in the NFL and on the verge of becoming a superstar.
Fantasy spin: Harvin's big game on Sunday should be a welcomed sight for Harvin owners. After a slow start to the season, he's finally producing fantasy points. Harvin had a season-high in fantasy points in Week 12 and I expect that trend to continue. Despite being 2-9, the Vikings will continue to find ways to get Harvin the ball. The Vikings will use these next five games to help bring Ponder along and build towards next season, which will include plenty of Percy Harvin.