After I took an unplanned week off (sometimes, work just takes over), the Vikings responded by losing a game against a very beatable team, which most likely ended any realistic hope of their finishing .500, let alone making the playoffs. Just like after the last seven games, however, it's important for us to congratulate those players who turned in quality performances for the Purple. And, even in the loss, there were quite a few.
- Brooks Bollinger, the Vikings third string quarterback turned in a quality performance in relief of Kelly Holcombe, after Holcombe got to find out what Deacon Jones Helmet Slap felt like prior to having his head driven into the turf. When Bollinger came out throwing, I was openly questioning Brad Childress' play calling. When Bollinger completed his first three throws for thirty yards, I was less skeptical. Bollinger never got the Vikings in the endzone, and he was sacked twice, but he also completed seven of ten passes for 96 yards and rushed for 15 yards on two carries. They weren't amazing stats, but they were pretty solid.
- The Purple Jesus doesn't make the three stars this week, for the first time this season. It might be a matter of expectations being too high for him, but Adrian Peterson was good, but not great, rushing for 70 yards on 20 carries. He also made an awful mistake on the opening kick of the second half that practically guaranteed the Vikings would not be able to do anything with the drive. That being said, he still turned in some plays that defy description--I have never, and I mean never, seen a running back HURDLE the line and then hit the ground running.
- Both Keneci Udeze and Ben Leber both turned in crucial sacks in the second half, sacks that helped force the Eagles two punts before they started running to kill time. The only other time the Eagles punted also included pressure on McNabb. That's not a coincidence folks.
3rd Star: Ryan Longwell
Yeah, he's the kicker. He was also responsible for 62.5% of the Vikings points. Without him, the Vikings don't keep within striking distance of the Eagles. And while two of his kicks were only a little more than 30 yarders, his final field goal was a 48 yarder, which isn't a chip shot in anyway. And, if the Vikings are going to make him such an important part of their offense, then I'm going to reward him with a spot in the three stars.
2nd Star: Visanthe Shiancoe
Shiancoe set a career high for receptions today, catching five passes for fifty yards (his second highest total), including two big first downs. He also hauled in the Vikings only touchdown pass, which ties him for second on the team in touchdowns (lets not talk about the fact that Adrian Peterson is the only Viking with more than one touchdown). Today was the day that the Shiancoe showed off the receiving skills that led to the Vikings signing him for 5 years and $18.2 million. If he can continue to have this kind of an impact on games, he'll be a bargain.
1st Star: E.J. Henderson
E.J. Henderson is one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL. He's also one of the hardest hitters. His performance today was just another example of why those first two statements are correct. He racked up ten tackles, second only to Antoine Winfield's eleven, and was a huge reason why the Eagles were held to only 62 rushing yards on 25 carries. Bryant Westbrook rushed for a paltry 46 yards on 21 carries. Prior to this week, Westbrook had the 8th best success rate amongst NFL running backs and the 4th best DVOA. Both of those stats deal with how good a back is on a per carry basis. Westbrook is going to see his stats drop after this week and E.J. Henderson is the biggest reason why.