I didn't intend to dismiss tailback Adrian Peterson's 171-yard performance by noting that most of it came in the fourth quarter, long after quarterback Christian Ponder had established an efficient passing game. It's important to note some of the exotic defensive fronts the Lions used in the fourth quarter to try to stop him, including four and sometimes five defensive linemen on the field in a quasi-short yardage look. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Lions used at least eight men in the box on nine of Peterson's 11 fourth-quarter rushes. He still picked up 97 yards on those carries, including his 61-yard touchdown scamper. After amassing 629 yards over the past four games, Peterson now has 1,128 yards on the season. Incredibly, despite his well-documented recovery from knee surgery, Peterson is off to the best 10-game start to his career. His previous high after 10 games was 1,100 yards in 2008, according to pro-football-reference.com. As Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune noted Monday morning, it's as fair to discuss Peterson as a possible MVP candidate as it is for him to win the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.
We've gotten a pretty good sense of what coach Leslie Frazier wants his team to be, and I haven't heard it expressed any better than Sunday by linebacker Chad Greenway. "It's Vikings football," Greenway said. "Keep it simple. Do it the right way." Frazier has never pretended to be a coach who would revolutionize schemes or try unconventional methods to achieve results. He has been a part of Super Bowl winners during two different stages of NFL history, and the common denominator isn't necessarily out-innovating the opponent. It is, in football lingo, doing what you do well. At their best this season, the Vikings have won games by blocking opponents better, hitting them harder and working hard to stay in their comfort zone of efficiency.
Ponder said two things during his postgame news conference that suggested he is quite aware of what is being said about him publicly. He jokingly gave credit for an improved performance to his girlfriend, ESPN reporter Samantha Steele, in reference to apparent suggestions that his recent slump had coincided with the development of their relationship. He also pointed out that reporters should have been happy with his 54-yard pass to receiver Jarius Wright "because you guys want to see the ball get down the field." Throughout his time with the Vikings, Ponder has proven nothing if not self-aware and self-deprecating. Those traits will serve him well as long as he can separate the constructive criticism from the noise.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
A story in Sunday's Star Tribune reported the Vikings recently distributed a survey gauging season-ticket holders' interest in paying some form of a personal seat license (PSL) to get the best tickets in the team's new stadium, scheduled to open 2016. The revenue would be applied toward the Vikings' share of the $975 million price tag. Predictably, the story quoted a season-ticket holder who called the possibility "disgusting" and added: "How dare they further gouge the average fan for additional money." With all due respect, it's naïve and borderline delusional to believe the Vikings won't require a PSL payment of some sort. This is all part of doing business with the NFL, whether anyone likes it or not, and to think the "gouging" was going to stop at approval of the new stadium wasn't realistic. Sorry folks. I would be really surprised if the Vikings pass on what has been a proven revenue producer for more than half of the NFL's teams. I don't know how much the PSLs count or how extensive they will be, but the odds are high they are coming in some form.