Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY Sports reported that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer received "instant feedback" from his former boss, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, in the form of a text message that routinely follows games.
"It was like, 'Don't let them get full of themselves. Keep your foot on them,' " Zimmer told Bell.
That definitely sounds like Parcells, the gruff Hall-of-Fame coach whom Zimmer worked for as defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006.
If the playoffs started today, the Vikings (4-2) would be in as a wild-card entrant, and it's no fluke. Yes, there's still a lot of football to be played — hence, no need to ego-trip, as someone warns — but Minnesota's progress after last season's 7-9 finish is palatable.
The Vikings recorded seven sacks of Matthew Stafford, and Bell described Teddy Bridgewater as "poised and nearly flawless with no picks."
A sweep of the Lions complete, the Vikings look like a postseason contender that's growing up. And it's striking that this team is so different from Minnesota's last playoff entry, before Zimmer arrived, when they were carried on the back of Adrian Peterson's MVP season in 2012.
Now it's not a matter of make-or-break with Peterson — he missed most of Zimmer's first season but remains an essential ingredient, his presence dictating the looks from defenses that open up opportunities for others — but more a case where complementary football is the formula.
"I still put pressure on myself to win the game anytime I step on the field," Peterson told USA TODAY Sports. "But it feels good to see Teddy, (Stefon) Diggs, Kyle Rudolph making plays as well. Any way we can get a W, I'm happy about it."
Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com took note of Zimmer's adjustments during the game after the Vikings allowed touchdowns on Detroit's first two possessions.
An aggressive approach manifested in Zimmer's tweaks to a game plan he spent the week crafting. Just after the second drive on Sunday, Zimmer was spotted around his top linebackers, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, on the sideline plotting the eventual changes that would recapture a game about to slip away.
Krammer added the Vikings first counterpunch occurred on a blitz by linebacker Chad Greenway, who recorded the first sack of Stafford on the day.
… then Eric Kendricks disrupted Stafford in the backfield to force a punt, then Everson Griffen drilled Stafford for a sack, then Harrison Smith came off the edge for another sack just before halftime.
The hits came from many directions, as the Vikings hurled extra defenders at Stafford to ensure receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Eric Ebron would cease to cause problems for their secondary.
Big numbers from Diggs
Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press was one of multiple writers to take note of Diggs' accomplishments Sunday and through his first three NFL games. Murphy noted:
Diggs became the first Vikings rookie receiver since Randy Moss in 1998 to eclipse 100 yards in consecutive games. He has 324 yards in three starts.
"I wouldn't say it's coming easy; it's a lot of preparation," he said. "I don't take any of the credit because it's a collective thing. I'm just trying to go out there, do what I can for my guys. Have fun and play at a high level."
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune honed in on the composure that Bridgewater showed, despite taking four sacks and several more hits, in completing 25 of 35 passes for 316 yards. Souhan wrote:
Bridgewater has thrown for more yards once — in his first NFL start, when he shredded a woeful Atlanta defense at home for 317. While the Lions have earned their 1-6 record, their defensive front causes more headaches than cheap beer, and they were playing with desperation in front of a loud crowd. After two hits in particular, Bridgewater was slow regaining his feet.
He took four sacks and was forced to throw away several passes but only once put the ball close to a defender's hands. This was what the Vikings envisioned when they drafted him — a composed and accurate passer.
NFL.com's Kevin Patra led his recap of the game with Diggs.
The Vikings are making impressions on writers from Sports Illustrated.