Photo - Tom Lynn (Getty Images)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN –There’s no changing it now, the record books will show this one as the first tie ball game for the Minnesota Vikings since they ended in a 10-10 tie against the Packers back in 1978. Sunday’s 26-26 tie pushes the Vikings to 2-8-1 on the season with five games left to go.
Still, almost everybody loses when the game ends in a tie. The players aren’t happy, the Packer haters aren’t happy and those that are cheering for the top draft pick aren’t happy either.
So with everybody dealing with the horrible taste of a tie in their mouths, here we go. Five observations from yesterday’s 26-26 tie between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings…
Audie Cole gets first start at MLB, leads the team in tackles…
After a personal situation forced starting linebacker Erin Henderson to miss the trip to Green Bay, Audie Cole stepped in and made a name for himself with a solid performance.
18 days ago, Audie Cole was waived by the Minnesota Vikings to make room for an offensive lineman. Even though he was re-signed by the team two days later, Cole entered the week as the team’s third-string middle linebacker behind Erin Henderson and rookie Michael Mauti who had recently been making a big push for extended playing time. But the personal situation moved Henderson aside and a tweaked knee left Mauti at less than 100% paving the way for Cole to get his chance.
Now, it’s not unheard of for the middle linebacker to lead the team in tackles due to the sheer positioning that the role finds you in. That said, what was encouraging from Audie on Sunday was the way that he went about it.
Having one tackle on the season, Cole was inexperienced on paper, but you could not see it on the field. Whether it was looking off the quarterback to disguise blitzes or filling gaps, Audie looked like he was an experienced linebacker in this league. On the surface, he looked faster than Henderson, stronger than Henderson and seems to have a knack for when to close better than Erin.
Now, I’m not saying that Cole will finish the year at MLB for the Vikings, but 11 tackles and a sack for your first NFL start is not bad. Let’s also note, that nobody knows exactly what is going on with Henderson, he could miss the final five games. If that turns out to be the case, I’d be comfortable with Audie in the middle the rest of the way.
Adrian Peterson Back to Form Despite Groin Injury…
Leading up to Sunday’s game, there were some thoughts being passed around that Adrian Peterson should take the week off to full recovery from a lingering groin injury. Having seen what Peterson did to the Packers yesterday, it’s obvious that those thoughts were wrong.
Peterson rushed for 146 yards and a score yesterday as he tallied his first 100+ rushing game since running for 140 against the Cowboys almost a month ago.
Last Thursday, Peterson claimed that while the groin injury was present, he didn’t feel like it was holding him back much and for sure didn’t think he needed to take the week off. While Peterson’s physical gifts surely helped him on Sunday, the most noticeable improvement was in his decision-making.
AP has had issues this year with indecisiveness leading to short runs. Sunday afternoon, AP was decisive and was quick about it! It was a quiet 146 for Peterson who had 32 carries with a long rush of only 22 yards, but it was an effective day. Trained eyes have told me that Gerhart (8 carries for 91 yards) was the beneficiary of great blocking and gigantic holes while Peterson did most of the work himself.
It’s still incredibly unlikely that Peterson will eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season and will surely fall short of his personal goal of 2,500. But the Vikings offense will always be more effective and more interesting with Adrian wheeling and dealing in the backfield.
Vikings defense continues on historically bad pace…
The Minnesota Vikings have allowed more than 400 points only six times in franchise history. Never have they allowed more than 500. As the Vikings have been allowing 31.45 points per game to opponents this season, they are currently on pace to allow 503 points to the opposition this year.
Minnesota’s defense allowed 484 points to opponents during Les Steckel’s infamous 1984 3-13 season. As it stands, that is the worst defensive season in Minnesota history.
The biggest malady for the Vikings this season has been tackling and it was much of the same yesterday against Green Bay.
“You’ve got to wrap up,” Frazier said on Monday. “We didn’t do a good job of wrap tackling…we obviously didn’t tackle as well as we needed to.”
Tie game puts Vikings in position for the 4th pick in 2014 Draft...
If you are cheering for the Vikings to get the best overall draft pick they can possible get, your efforts took a bit of a hit on Sunday.
With three teams sitting at 2-9 on the season, the tie ball game puts the Vikings exempt from almost all tiebreakers that may arise. While the rest of the teams are worried about strength of schedule, the Vikings are looking for another team to tie. That said, they are still in position for a top five pick in the upcoming draft.
CLICK HERE to get the full breakdown on the Vikings position for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Cordarrelle Patterson steps up as an actual part of the Vikings offense…
By now we all know how dangerous rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson can be in the kick off return game. Patterson currently leads the league with 1,088 return yards this season. But it’s been unknown exactly what sort of role he could potentially have on offense as a receiver. Sunday against the Packers provided a bit of a glimpse into what he has to offer.
Patterson was targeted 11 times by quarterback Christian Ponder and reeled in 8 balls for 54 yards. He has seen an expanded role the past few weeks since fellow receiver Jerome Simpson ran into some trouble with the law, but this week saw both Simpson and Patterson get extended time.
Head coach Leslie Frazier has also seen Patterson’s improvements and has some ideas as to why he’s coming on now.
“I think it’s just been a maturation over the season,” Frazier said on Monday. “I think he’s been growing all along. The situation with Jerome [Simpson] thrust him into a different role…now he’s a starter and he’s really embraced that opportunity…it’s a process that he’s been a part of since the beginning of the year.