The last two years, I've tried (under two different names) to pick an MVP for the season by picking players of the game after each win. It didn't really work too well. So, since I'm a stubborn fellow, I'm going to try it again, but I'm going to continue tinkering with the concept. This time, I'm going to take a page out of the NHL's proverbially book and award three stars after each game, not just after each wins (six wins were not enough last year).
Thankfully, that part about doing it after each game doesn't matter right now, because the Vikings are 1-0 after demolishing the Falcons. And there are quite a few players that deserve to be honored for their play. The Tarvaris Revolution got off to a solid, controlled start, completing 13 of his 23 passes for 163 yards while avoiding numerous sacks, including a ridiculous play where he stiffed armed a Falcon and then managed to stay upright long enough to throw the ball over his head, out of bounds. Antoine Winfield had five tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown to squash whatever hope the Falcons had left. And there was Keneci Udeze, who ended his streak of 18 sackless games as time expired, a sack celebrated by the Vikings like it had clinched the Super Bowl (Seriously--he was mobbed. I'm pretty sure the defensive line coach jumped on him).
However, those three didn't contribute quite enough. So, without further ado, the three stars:
E.J. led the Vikings with seven tackles, six unassisted. He also tied for the lead with two sacks, dragging down Joey Harrington like sacking the quarterback was something defenses were supposed to do. In case you were wondering, he's only one sack shy of his career high for a season--he had three last year. Most importantly, however, he dominated in his return to the middle, leading a defense that held the Falcons to 96 rushing yards and 139 passing yards.
Sometimes, you need to get a little lucky to a make a play. Other times, you need to drop into "coverage" because you weren't ready for a quick snap count and consequently couldn't rush. However, strokes of luck like that usually take a large toll on you, something Kevin Williams found out when he was forced to sprint 54 yards as a punishment for not being ready. Of course, he probably didn't mind too much, seeing as how he had the football with him and he got to get the Vikings out to an early lead.
Adrian Peterson turned in two nominees for the play of the game. The obvious one was his sixty yard sprint to the endzone, a play that demonstrated both his breakaway speed and his ability to stay focused, seeing as how he bobbled the pass a few times before hauling it in and heading for the end zone. The play that might have been more important, however, was his fumble recovery near the end of the first half, when Matt Birk snapped a sharp ground ball past Tarvaris Jackson. While Tarvaris had a shot at it, as he was attempting to beat three Falcons to the ball, it seemed like he was the only one in Purple who did. And if even one of the multiple defenders in white had managed to get a hold of the ball, it would have been an easy seven points. That's when the Purple Jesus stepped in, coming out of nowhere to fall on the ball and save the Vikings seven points, and, quite possibly, the game. Those kinds of instincts can't be taught. And neither can the kind that get you 103 yards on 19 carries (5.42 yards per carry!). It's not every day a player dominates the game while also making a play that saves his team from disaster. Adrian Peterson did today, not all that surprisingly, considering he's the Purple Jesus and it's why he's the 1st Star of the game.