Well fans, the Vikes came away with the crucial win against Detroit, but made the game all too interesting for my taste. Then again, the Lions do not seem the same old dogs anymore. They should have beaten the surprising 3-0 Bears down in Chicago, and gave the 2-1 Eagles all they could handle. Once Detroit players realize that they are actually competitive, (with Matt Millen gone), and their coaching staff figures out how to use Calvin Johnson, they will be a tough opponent for anyone.
Aside from the win itself, there were bright spots in the Vikes performance last Sunday. The defense played another tough game, giving up only ten points, and those off the once again plentiful turnovers. Despite three of them, however, the game was never really in doubt. The return of Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook makes the cornerback position one of strength for a change – pray for Antoine Winfield’s continued health, he is back to his old form – and the very surprising effectiveness of Husain Abdullah makes the safety position stronger also. He seems to have shamed Madieu Williams, who is suddenly making hard, sure tackles, into playing up to early expectations. It will be interesting to see how this unit performs against the really good passing attacks they will encounter when they go to Green Bay and New England.
Rushing for 183 yards, despite giving back nearly fifty more to penalties, will enable the Purple to stay in the game against any team in the league. Adrian Peterson seems to have gotten a step back – on the long TD run, it was obvious he was gone even though the Detroit safety had a step and an angle. Last year we saw him run down from behind more than once. Unfortunately, if the passing attack doesn’t sharpen up, astute coaches such as Bill Belichick will figure out how to take Peterson away and force Brett Favre to throw interceptions. I hope that Belichick doesn’t once again figure out how to take the Vikes defense apart and give away the keys to the rest of the league. It would help if they would rediscover a pass rush.
The aptitude Greg Camarillo has shown for returning punts is a wonderful surprise. This was not advertised, and he is not supposed to be fast, originally an undrafted free agent. What he has shown is sure hands, the cardinal virtue in a receiver, and a quick first step instinct which is more useful than blazing speed. I predict that before long, he will become a Favre favorite. Hank Baskett, on the other hand, should go on the discard pile. A man of his size who shows no more instinct or ability to go up for the ball than he did on the long pass to the end zone will not prosper in the NFL. Baskett let the ball come into his body as he was going down, giving the DB a chance to make the play. Calvin Johnson would have caught that ball over his head, in his outstretched hands, for an easy six.
The next four games do not seem quite the killing floor they did at the beginning of the season. The Cheeseheads, in losing to the Bears last night, seemed fatally flawed along the offensive line, with no rushing attack at all. If the Vikes can get their their pass rush going again, I think they can hold the Pack offense to under 20 points. Meanwhile, the Jets and Pats have each looked like mortal men in losing a game apiece, and the vaunted Cowboys are 1-2.
If the Vikes can rebuild their passing attack so as to stretch the field a bit, they could still be a threat at the end of the season.