Through the first eight games of his career Vikings fans have learned to expect a couple big plays per game from rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, but after Sunday's walk off forced fumble- recovery-return touchdown combination, national crowds will now start paying attention.
Jim Souhan from the Star Tribune writes that the Vikings rookie has become the club's new breakout star:
The Vikings surprised much of the NFL by choosing Barr with the ninth pick in the 2014 draft. Considered raw and risky after spending only one year of his life as a full-time linebacker, Barr has become the breakout star of an otherwise muddled season.
Sunday, Barr, wearing more conventional athletic shoes, ripped the ball from Buccaneers tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in overtime, then scooped it off the turf and scored, giving the Vikings a 19-13 victory at Raymond James Stadium.* *
"Right now, he's an All-Star in this league,'' Greenway said.
Barr is making a difficult transition to a difficult league look easy as finding tickets to see the 2014 Buccaneers. Sunday, he made a team-high eight tackles and had a sack and a quarterback hit before making the play of the game.
So athletically gifted he played running back in high school and early in his career at UCLA, Barr, of SoCal, impressed the guy from SoDak with his brain.
"If I knew how he did it, I'd have done it back then,'' Greenway said. "His ability to adapt mentally has been the big thing for him. The toughest thing is coming into a new scheme and knowing your role, knowing how you fit. As good as he is physically, mentally he's really more impressive. When I'm making calls we're able to talk and get people lined up. That's not something that's impressive in your ninth year, but in your rookie year, it's very impressive.''
Sunday offered a reminder that head coach Mike Zimmer is just starting his work in Minnesota, as a rookie running back again led the team in rushing, a rookie quarterback led a last-minute drive for a game-tying field goal, then a rookie linebacker made the winning play for a rookie head coach.
Barr is just one piece to the puzzle for the Vikings new and improved defense in Zimmer's first year. If the defense keeps up this pace, Barr will not be alone in garnering attention.
- Mike Zimmer praises rookie running back Jerick McKinnon, via Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press.
- From Judd Zulgad: Vikings get it right by looking to get ball in Patterson's hands.
- ESPN's Ben Goessling writes about Bridgewater's improvements in his second victory.