Monday, September 22, 2008

Three Stars: First Victory

This post is a lot harder to write after a win. But you know what? I can't say I mind too much. The Vikings first win featured, as all wins do, many outstanding individual performances, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And in a game in which Steve Smith was expected to destroy the Vikings and the Panthers' offense, particularly their running game, had been so successful even without Smith, it was only fitting that all three stars go to defensive players.

So while Adrian Peterson averaged over 4.5 yards per carry on a bad hamstring, he's not going to crack the top three players this week. The same goes for Bernard Berrian, who lead the Vikings in receiving, caught his first deep pass and looked like the deep threat he was supposed to be. Berrian fails to crack the top three because his inability to haul in a deep pass led to the Vikings' only turnover. And while Gus Frerrotte calmed the offense down in the second half and he was the first Viking to crack 200 yards passing, his performance wasn't anything special (except in comparison with Tarvaris' first two games). He still missed open recievers, took three sacks and generally put together an average game. With the defense dominating in the way it did, it was enough to win. It wasn't enough to crack the Three Stars though.

Third Star: Kevin Williams
The lighter of the two Williams had another dominating game, racking up six tackles while helping keep the Panthers and their running game under 50 yards for the game. He also had two crucial sacks while keeping Jake Delhomme under constant pressure. Both sacks came when it mattered, as his first came on final drive of the first half and his second came on 4th and 27 with under 3 minutes to go in the game and basically ended whatever hope the Panthers might have had of coming back.

Second Star: E.J. Henderson
Twelve tackles, three for a loss, one quarterback hurry and one flying, highlight reel tackle. Just another game for one of the best middle linebackers in the game and the leader of the best run stopping defense in the game. What else can you say, except that, in a defense full of playmakers, E.J. Henderson has moved his way to the top of the list of Vikings defenders worth paying to see?

First Star: Antoine Winfield
There's no question that the biggest play of the game was Antoine Winfield's blitz that forced a Jake Delholmme fumble that Winfield returned for a touchdown. Steve Smith was open on the play, Delholmme knew it, Smith knew it, and who knows what might have happened if Winfield hadn't gotten to Delholmme? The best case scenario would have had the Vikings' going into the locker down a touchdown. The worst case scenario would have had them down two touchdowns and staring at a loss likely to end their playoff hopes. Because of Winfield, however, the Vikings' didn't have to worry about the various scenarios that might have played out if Delholmme had gotten the pass off. Instead they went into the locker room tied, with all of the momentum going their way. And the capitalized on that momentum, holding the Panthers scoreless in the second half and giving the offense a chance, which they capitalized on, to take the lead on the first drive of the second half. Without Winfield's play, none of that happens. Really, without Winfield's play, the Vikings' fall to 3-0. And that's why Winfield's the First Star this week.

2 comments:

d. tizzle said...

I've got a pretty good feeling that EJ Henderson is going to be in your top 3 stars all season. He's been playing like a beast lately and I LOVE it!
I was hoping that Sid the Kid would be tearing it up by now too, but hopefully his injury isn't too bad and that his first 2 games of non-productivity were the result of T-Jack's inabilities.

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