MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings had a quality 26-16 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 2 after a clunker at San Francisco to open the season.
So which Vikings team would show up against the Chargers Sunday? The one that struggled in its first game, or the one that punished the Lions? We got our answer pretty quickly as the Vikings defensive line dominated San Diego and beat up Philip Rivers. Adrian Peterson ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: UK Variant Outbreak Linked To Youth Sports In Carver County, Officials Recommend 2-Week Pause
Even the defense got a score thanks to Chad Greenway, and the Vikings claimed a dominating 31-14 victory at TCF Bank Stadium. It could be a fun season if Minnesota plays like it did in its last two wins the rest of the season. A tough road game at Denver looms on Sunday, but here are five takeaways from Sunday’s win.
Adrian Peterson Getting Back To Form
After struggling in Week 1, Adrian Peterson appears to be getting back into his groove in the Vikings backfield. Peterson had 20 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a dazzling 43-yard dash where he made about half the Chargers’ defense miss tackles. We’re starting to see the Peterson that’s capable of taking over a game, and perhaps more importantly, the pressure off Teddy Bridgewater to be the team’s primary leader on offense.
Norv Turner has clearly made a few adjustments in the Vikings’ offensive formations and put Peterson in spots where he’s comfortable running the ball after the disaster that was Week 1. Peterson averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the win over the Lions and on Sunday, averaged 6.3 yards in the win over Chargers. He also didn’t fumble the ball away, which was a problem against Detroit.
Trae Waynes Fills In For Injured Xavier Rhodes
Vikings fans held their breath for a couple of reasons when Xavier Rhodes went down in a nasty collision with Andrew Sendejo on Sunday. Rhodes lay motionless on the field on a play that ended up a Chargers’ touchdown, and he never returned. The injury was diagnosed as a concussion, and Rhodes is lucky it was only that.
In his absence, rookie Trae Waynes stepped in and played admirably. In his first real game action on defense, Waynes had five tackles, four solo, in the second half and was targeted regularly by Rivers. Having Waynes step up was huge for the Vikings defense, especially when you consider that Rhodes typically lines up against the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. It sounds like Rhodes could be back to face the Broncos, but it’s nice to have the option to put Waynes in, even if it is against Peyton Manning.
Chad Greenway Makes A Big Play In Limited RoleREAD MORE: More Than 1 Million Wisconsin Residents Have Been Vaccinated
Chad Greenway took a pay cut in the offseason and is seeing a limited role at linebacker on defense. He finished Sunday with five tackles, but it was his big play in the fourth quarter that locked up a victory. Greenway intercepted a pass bobbled by Stevie Johnson and returned it 91 yards for a touchdown. After clearing a few initial tackle attempts, the entire Vikings defense was along the sideline to block for him as he ran. The sideline went nuts, even drawing a penalty for contact with an official, because Greenway is one of the most respected players in the locker room.
Greenway was a bit emotional with the media after the game. He had many family and friends in attendance and acknowledged his father, who died last December. Greenway knows the end of his NFL career is near, so it was great to see him make a big play in a big spot.
Defensive Front 7 Had Rivers On The Run
The Vikings defensive line and linebackers had a huge say in the outcome of Sunday’s game. Philip Rivers had very little time to find open receivers and often found himself trying to make a play on the run. He was sacked four times, hurried several other times and took a lot of big hits. San Diego had to use a timeout at one point in the second half after a big hit on Rivers so he could regain his breath without having to take him off the field for injury reasons.
The Chargers also only ran for 90 yards, largely due to the Vikings dominating up front. If that trend continues, the Vikings are poised to have a big year if their defense can stay healthy.
Blair Walsh Fixing His Kicking Problems
If you’re not talking about your kicker after a game, it’s usually a good thing. If you are, it’s usually because of a missed field goal that could’ve won a game. Since signing a contract extension, Blair Walsh had a shaky preseason and missed his first field goal attempt at San Francisco. There had been suggestion to bring a kicker to compete with Walsh to get him mentally right and put a fire under his belly.
Against the Lions in Week 2, Walsh did miss an extra point but he made two others and made field goals of 23 and 28 yards. In Sunday’s win, Walsh made four extra points and a 24-yard field goal. He also had a made field goal negated because of a Chargers penalty. It appears he’s getting out of his early-season funk. They need his confidence in the kicking game, because at some point they’ll need him to win the Vikings a game with his leg.MORE NEWS: Faces Of COVID: Daryl Kruger, 82, Loved His Grandkids And The MN Twins
The Vikings are 2-1 after three games and have a tough test at Denver Sunday. A win there would be huge with winnable games following a bye week against Kansas City, at Detroit and at Chicago.