Football is the ultimate team game, but it takes a series of individual performances coming together in order for the team to accomplish its goals. The Vikings went into Lambeau Field last Sunday with the goal of winning their game against the Packers, and while they fell short of attaining victory and instead drew a 26-26 tie with Green Bay, there still some individual performances that bear mentioning.
Here are five of them…
The second-year linebacker made his first career regular season start, and all he did was lead the team in tackles with 18 and record a sack on the first play of the game. He also crushed Packers quarterback Matt Flynn in overtime, forcing an incompletion and a Packers punt. The 18 tackles by Cole in the game are a Vikings game high for the season.
This may have been Locke’s best game as a pro. Before reading about his performance, consider that at kickoff temperatures were in the high-teens and the wind chill made it feel like 9 degrees – nowhere close to ideal conditions for the kicking game. Locke, who played collegiately at UCLA, wasn’t bothered. He punted six times on the afternoon, with three of them landing inside Green Bay’s 20 and with just three of them being returned for only eight yards. His long for the day was a 50-yard bomb through the heavy, cold Green Bay air and his net average for the afternoon was 42.8 yards, an incredible number given the conditions and a number that would rank him second in the NFL if it were his average for the season. Locke should also be credited for a great hold on
The Vikings running back tandem of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart punished Green Bay’s defense all afternoon. Peterson had his highest output of the season – 146 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries – and Gerhart ran well between the tackles to overpower a tired Green Bay defense for 91 yards of his own on eight carries. The Vikings finished the game with over 200 yards on the ground and they were seemingly running at will against Green Bay’s defense in overtime before their first drive stalled out and Walsh came on to salvage the series with a field goal. Peterson now ranks second in the NFL in rushing behind only LeSean McCoy, and Gerhart has 158 rushing yards on 15 carries in the last two games.
Sharp and smart with the ball, Christian Ponder played perhaps one of his best games of the season in completing 21 of 30 passes for 233 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also made a great throw on the Vikings first drive of overtime that was deflected at the last moment and prevented receiver
As with Locke, rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes had his best game as a member of the Vikings in Green Bay. It appeared as if Rhodes played a lot of man coverage because of the Vikings decision to bring pressure frequently with linebackers, and it also appears as if Rhodes thrives in that role. He was constantly jumping into passing lanes and breaking up passes intended for James Jones. In fact, Rhodes, who led the team in pass breakups (PBUs) coming into the game, added four more PBUs to his total. We’ve seen flashes of first-round talent from Rhodes all season, but on Sunday in Green Bay, Rhodes displayed that talent constantly and was a factor for the Vikings on defense.