Suddenly the Vikings are as hot as firecrackers. After winning their fifth straight 30-14 over the Oakland Raiders, the Vikings have taken over sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The 7-2 Vikings lead the Green Bay Packers by one full game after the Packers dropped their third straight 18-16 to Detroit.
It was Detroit’s first win in Wisconsin vs. the Packers since 1991. Remember, the Vikings have already swept Detroit and beaten Chicago for a 3-0 record within the Division. The 6-3 Packers are 1-1 in the NFC North, so Sunday’s showdown here at TCFStadium is huge and critical. Division games are like two games in one.
It’s no secret the Vikings are playing well. Sunday’s win was maybe the best, most complete game in all phases — offense, defense and special teams. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returned and started and threw a first-quarter touchdown.
Cordarrelle Patterson gave the Vikings the spark they needed when he raced 93 yards with a kick return to put the Vikings back on top 20-14. They had led 13-0 only toallow the Raiders to grab the momentum and a 14-13 lead.
Adrian Peterson has raised his game. He is certainly now in the MVP conversation with New England’s Tom Brady, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. All three quarterbacks have led their teams to unbeaten 9-0 starts.
“I am warming up each week. I see my game getting to a different level,” Peterson said. “It’s exciting to see each week. I feel my body kind of evolving to the player. I really envision myself being this season. I’m just going to stay focused and take care of my body as the season progresses.”
Peterson ran for 203 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He has run for 100 yards or more in four straight games and now leads the NFL in rushing yards with 961.
Peterson had his first 200-yard game since 2013. Remember, he missed 15 games in 2014. He isback in a big way. He tied Hall-of-Famer O.J. Simpson with his career-sixth200-yard game for most in NFL history.
Peterson now has 47 career 100-yard games and 26 games where he has run for at least 125 yards. Mike Zimmer’s confidence in supporting Peterson through last year’s family situation speaks volumes.
The Vikings were 7-9 in 2014 with Peterson playing just one game. They have already matched last year’s win total with seven games left. For the Vikings, the sky’s the limit.
It appears to be coming together for the Vikings after winning their third straight game 23-20 with a photo finish in Chicago last Sunday. The Vikings are now 5-2.
It’s been a long time since the Vikings last won in Chicago. It was the team’s first win in Chicago since 2007.
The Vikings improved to 3-0 in the NFC North with a thrilling comeback win in Chicago in the final seconds over the tough-luck Bears. For the fifth straight time, running back Adrian Peterson ran for over 100 yards against the Bears. “We fight no matter if we’re down 10, 15, 20 — guys continue to fight,” said Peterson.
Marcus Sherel put the Vikings on the board early with a brilliant 65-yard punt return for a touchdown. But it was quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who engineered a fourth-quarter comeback, and kicker Blair Walsh kicked the 36-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Vikings trailed 20-13 late in the fourth quarter with just 1.49 left when Bridgewater connected with red-hot receiver rookie Stefon Diggs on a 40-yard touchdown strike. Diggs had another big game with six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Last week the Vikings rallied from being down 14-3 to beat Detroit 28-19; the back-to-back road wins for the Vikings is their first since 2012. The Vikings are playing smart, tough football. They have figured out that if they don’t beat themselves, they have a good chance to win.
The Vikings on offense, defense, and special teams combined are the least penalized team in the NFL, just 39 times in seven games — not bad. Sunday they had just four penalties for 35 yards.
Around the NFL, several teams are putting up and allowing a lot of points, but not the Vikings. With the controlled, balanced attack, with the running of Peterson and passing of Bridgewater to Diggs, the Vikings are winning and getting it done. Diggs is doing special things in the passing game with Bridgewater, 25 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns since week four.
On defense, rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks has been making a big impact. He was last week’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the week.
The Vikings return home Sunday to play St. Louis. Then in two weeks they get Green Bay at home. With the Packers getting smashed 29-10 by Denver, both 6-0 teams, in the battle of Peyton Manning versus Aaron Rodgers, the Vikings are now just a game back of the previously unbeaten Green Bay.
The Vikings are a tough, hardnosed team on both sides of the ball, and Peterson is again among the NFL rushing leaders, running hard with 633 yards already. On special teams, Walsh kicked five field goals in the win at Detroit last week, and Sunday Walsh kicked three more field goals, including one from 48 yards and the game winner from 36 yards.
Bridgewater is now 11-8 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. His poise and talent in his second year has him climbing the ladder among NFL quarterbacks. That ladder is steep with Tom Brady at the top.
Sunday, Drew Brees threw for 511 yards and seven touchdowns in the Saint’ 52-49 win over New York. Manning threw for 300 yards in Denver’s win over Green Bay, his career 186th win as a starter, tying him with Brett Favre for the most all-time in the NFL. Bridgewater is delivering for the Vikings, and he’s just getting started.
Phil “Flip” Saunders, president, part owner and coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has passed away at age 60. Saunders was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August; he was hospitalized following a setback in September.
Saunders is the winningest and most successful coach in franchise history. The team announced just Friday that Saunders would miss the entire 2015-16season. He was hired as Timberwolves head coach in 1996 and led the team toeight straight playoff appearances. He also coached successfully with the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.
“It is with tremendous difficulty and deep sadness that the Timberwolves acknowledge the passing of our President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Flip Saunders. Flip was a symbol of strength, compassion and dignity for our organization,” said Glen Taylor.
“The NBA family is mourning today over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Flip Saunders,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “Flip’s untimely passing has left a gaping hole in the fabric of our league. Flip was a beloved figure around the NBA, nowhere more so than in Minnesota, demonstrating a genuine and consistent passion for his players, his team and the game.”
Saunders was named head coach on June 6, 2014 after he returned to the organization on May 3, 2013 as the team’s president of basketball operations. Saunders has laid the foundation for a culture change with the Timberwolves. When this organization won before, it was because he led the way.
In 2003-2004, Saunders led the Timberwolves to a Western Conference-best and franchise-best 58-24 record; the team reached the Western Conference Finals. His career NBA record of 654-592 is the best in franchise history.
Saunders ranks 20th on the NBA all-time coaching wins chart, and his .525 winning percentage is 16th among all NBA coaches who have coached more than 1,110 games. Saunders had seven 50-win seasons and led his teams to four Conference Finals in 11 post-season appearances. He is one of 10 coaches to have coached in both the Western and Eastern Conference Finals.
Saunders was one of the most consistent coaches I have ever been around. His teams played smart and hard for him. Saunders was also a Gopher and played on one of the Gophers’ all-time best teams.
His teammates included Michael Thompson, Ray Williams and Kevin McHale. Twice he coached in the NBA All-Star game, and the NBA coaches will honor him this season by wearing lapel pins honoring his memory.
I had a great relationship with Flip. He was not only a great coach but a great person. Iremember the 35W bridge collapse years ago when he shared with me how he just missed getting caught in the disaster.
He will always receive credit for the job he did in developing Kevin Garnett from high school kid to Big Ticket to NBA Superstar and MVP. The work that Saunders has put in place for the future of this franchise will pay dividends for years to come. The team is being coached by two of his ex-players, Sam Mitchell and SidneyLowe.
Our prayers are for Saunders’ wife Debbie, their four children, and the Timberwolves organization.