Sunday, December 28, 2008

Three Stars: NFC NORTH CHAMPIONS

If one is being honest, then one would not be happy with the Vikings performance today. The defense didn't play well, and Derrick Ward ran all over the Purple. The last minute of the Vikings' game winning drive was about as poorly run and executed as could be. However, I'm not going to be that guy, on this, the day of the Vikings' first NFC North crown. Today is a happy day--the Vikings won a big game for the first time this decade and with it, their first division crown. So we're going to hand out the Three Stars of the Game and celebrate those who did the most to get the Purple their first crown.

Third Star: Adrian Peterson
It wasn't his best game, but he had the play of the first half, making one cut and going 67 yards for his longest run of the year and the Vikings' first touchdown. With that run, he pretty much sealed his first rushing title, guaranteed he'd finish the season with 3000 rushing yards for his career (only the fifth running back to reach that mark in his first two years) and more than made up for the fact that he averaged under two yards a carry, aside from that run, in the first half and had his ninth fumble.

Second Star: Ryan Longwell
I've said it before, and I'll say it again--when you make a game winning field goal, you get to be one of the Stars of the Game. Especially when it's a 50 yard field goal, the coach is being indecisive and it's to win a division title for the first time since 2000. And from the second he kicked it, there was no doubt that it was going in. And that's not even including the 48 yard field goal he made in the first half. And don't scoff at that field goal either--what would have happened if Jon Carney had made his final attempt, a 48 yard kick that would have forced the Purple to score a touchdown to win.

First Star: Bernard Berrian
No player had more to do with the Vikings' win today than Bernard Berrian. His 54 yard touchdown catch got the Vikings back into the game after they Giants went up 9 points and, while the Giant covering him fell down, Berrian turned what would have been a 30 yard catch into a touchdown by putting a move on another Giant and then outracing him to the end zone. He also had the most important catch of the final drive, hauling in a 9 yard reception on 3rd and 8. And it was a beauty of a catch--the throw was high, but he still managed to bring it in and get both feet in bounds in a catch that was reminiscent of Chris Carter's specialty. He played like a #1 receiver today and it was a glorious thing to watch.