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Week 15 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 36, St. Louis Rams 22

Minnesota Vikings

QB Christian Ponder, Pass: 17 - 24 - 131 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 6 - 1

Ponder missed the opportunity for a touchdown on the first drive of the play. He threw some very accurate passes into tight coverage to move his offense down the field, but after play-action on fourth and one, Ponder rolled outside and ran for the first but settled to run out of bounds instead of fighting forward for the endzone. Ponder made up for it three plays later when he wrestled himself away from a defender in the pocket before scrambling into the endzone outside left tackle. Ponder was playing well and making some very accurate throws to move the chains. He was sacked midway through the third quarter for a fumble, but fortunately the ball went out of bounds. Ponder should have felt the pressure from behind and tucked the ball to his chest considering the situation. Ponder followed that with a terrible attempt at throwing a quick slant on third and 26 when the ball went straight to a waiting Trumaine Johnson. Johnson did everything but catch the ball.

RB Adrian Peterson, Rush: 24 - 212 - 1

Peterson was bottled up as the Rams completely sold out to stop him early on. After his first seven carries, he was in negative yardage although a handful of those carries came in the redzone. With the Rams running so aggressively to the football, the Vikings used that aggression against them with a delayed handoff. The result saw Peterson run for an untouched 82 yard touchdown. Even though he was untouched, it wasn't a simple run as he cut back after seven yards to find a hole before sprinting away from the defense. Amazingly, defensive end Robert Quinn was the only one who was able to stay with him, but Peterson even managed to lose him comfortably with 30 yards to go. Peterson ran hard all day, as his nickname would imply, and while he was sometimes taken down in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage by the Rams crowding the line of scrimmage, he broke big plays whenever his offensive line gave him any sort of opportunity. No play epitomizes Adrian Peterson more than his biggest in the fourth quarter. The Rams had just scored eight points on one drive, with over six minutes left, the crowd was coming alive and the Rams had Peterson dead to rights six yards deep behind the line of scrimmage. Peterson reversed the field, beat two defenders set up his blocking and carried the ball for a 52 yard gain. The only surprise was that he didn't score the touchdown.

RB Toby Gerhart, Rush: 5 - -5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)

Gerhart was rarely involved on offense, but did see a few targets in passing situations and some carries to spell Peterson when he was tired.

WR Jerome Simpson, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (6 targets)

Simpson's first reception went for a first down on a crossing route. He made an impressive reception between two defenders. Simpson's second reception was a quick pass in the flat when he couldn't beat Cortland Finnegan in space and fumbled the football and also picked up a foot injury. Fortunately for the Vikings he managed to retain possession. Simpson made a nice hands catch on a 15 yard curl route with a defender draped over him.

WR Stephen Burton, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (4 targets)

Burton's first reception was an impressive catch on a slant route when he bounced off the initial hit for a 13 yard gain. Burton caught a bubble screen for a four yard gain when he was tackled by the first defender arriving. Burton caught another quick pass in the flat for six yards in the fourth quarter.

WR Michael Jenkins, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)

Jenkins' first reception came in the third quarter on third down when he caught a deep out for a first down.

WR Jarius Wright, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)

Wright's first target came in the second quarter when he was well covered and Ponder overthrew him down the right sideline. Wright caught an underneath crossing route in the fourth quarter before turning upfield for a first down.

TE Kyle Rudolph, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (4 targets)

Rudolph caught Ponder's first pass of the day open on a play-action bootleg underneath. He ran away from the defender for a first down. Rudolph's second reception came on exactly the same play at the start of the third quarter except to the other side of the field.

TE John Carlson, Rec: 3 - 17 - 0 (3 targets)

When lined up as a wide receiver, Carlson ran a quick slant route for a first down and 12 yards. Carlson made a good reception as he absorbed a hit for a 14 yard gain down the left seam.

St. Louis Rams

QB Sam Bradford, Pass: 35 - 55 - 377 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 9 - 0

Bradford made some nice throws when given time early on, but he was under pressure on many occasions before throwing a touchdown pass to Brian Quick. Not only did Bradford throw a beautiful pass to Quick for the touchdown, but he made the call from under center to switch plays to take advantage of the Vikings' defensive formation. It was a kill rather than an audible. On the very next drive however, Bradford fumbled a quarterback-center exchange and allowed the defense to come up with the recovery deep in Rams' territory. The Vikings only scored a field goal after that turnover, but a touchdown off a Bradford turnover soon followed. The Vikings sent a disguised blitz attacking the left of the Rams' offense, which meant Everson Griffin dropped into coverage on the opposite side of the field. Bradford threw the ball straight to Griffin as he tried to hit a slant over the middle. Pressure was closing in on Bradford which forced him to make a quick decision and rarely did that pressure ever let up, as he was immediately sacked on the very next play also. Even with max protection two plays later, Bradford was again sacked. Even though the Vikings weren't consistently sacking Bradford, the pressure destroyed their offensive efficiency in the first half. Bradford led a good drive down the field during the two minutes before the half, but missed Chris Givens wide open down the right sideline for what would have been an easy touchdown. To be fair to Bradford, he initially stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure but couldn't step into the throw as a defender was in his face when he let the ball go. Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Amendola in the fourth quarter after he rolled out of the pocket and threw an outstanding pass across his body to the back of the endzone.

RB Steven Jackson, Rush: 13 - 73 - 0, Rec: 8 - 73 - 0 (10 targets)

Have you ever been in a nightclub with your girlfriend, when a club rep girl comes over and starts talking to you? Typically, the girl you are with looks much less appealing when the girl who is paid to be attractive is talking to you. That is essentially what it felt like being a Rams' fan watching Steven Jackson today. Jackson was outstanding, but comparing him to Peterson was like comparing the best looking girl in your school to a super model. When you just look at what Jackson did today, you should be very impressed as he consistently ran hard and intelligently. Jackson remains one of the best veteran running backs in the whole league. He was very active as a receiver also today. Late in the third quarter, Jackson gained nine yards to give him over 10'000 career rushing yards. Typically, Jackson didn't acknowledge the applause or the announcer as he focused on the next play.

RB Daryl Richardson, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (6 targets)

Richardson's first involvement was a reception on third and 20 underneath as the Rams settled for eight yards against prevent coverage. Richardson had his first carry at the beginning of the next drive when he was stuffed up the middle for a two yard gain. Richardson was in as the Rams ran a hurry-up offense in the third quarter, his first contribution came on a route to the flat out of the backfield when he sprinted past the defense down the sidelines for a 15 yard gain.

WR Danny Amendola, Rec: 6 - 58 - 1 (12 targets)

Amendola's first reception came on first and 10 underneath dropping coverage for eight yards. Amendola's second reception went for a first down when he ran a quick out for five yards. Amendola caught a crossing route underneath for five yards on third and five. Bradford went straight back to Amendola for a touchdown as he rolled out of the pocket and Amendola came free at the back of the endzone. Amendola made an outstanding reception deep over the middle after running straight down the field and absorbing a big hit from a defensive back. Amendola caught the two point conversion over the middle of the field after Lance Kendricks' touchdown in the fourth quarter. Amendola caught a quick out for a first down when the game was lost on the Rams' final drive.

WR Brandon Gibson, Rec: 6 - 76 - 0 (8 targets)

Gibson's first reception came on third and 10 when he caught an underneath route before diving forward for a first down, however the play was negated for a holding call. Gibson's first reception that counted also went for a first down when he ran a deep post route between the linebackers and safeties for a 15+ yard gain. Gibson should have caught another big pass straight away on a deep comeback, but he dropped a well thrown pass from Bradford. Gibson was penalized for a taunting penalty on a dead ball penalty that was off-set with an unnecessary roughness penalty on Mystral Raymond. Gibson somewhat made up for it straight away with a good reception on a curl route for a first down. Gibson caught another comeback down the left sideline for a first down and an eight yard gain. Gibson caught a quick slant straight away after and beat a defender with a quick double move for a first down. He caught another quick slant with under two minutes to go.

WR Austin Pettis, Rec: 5 - 55 - 0 (6 targets)

Pettis caught a reception over the middle of the field for a first down late in the third quarter. Bradford went back to Pettis soon after on fourth and one when they spread the field. Pettis ran a quick out and beat the defender for the first down, but was injured at the end of the play. Pettis came back after the quarter break and caught a crossing route for eight yards. Two plays later, Pettis caught a six yard curl route over the middle. Two plays after that, Pettis drew a pass interference penalty deep down the right sideline. He caught a 24 yard pass over the middle in space on the team's next drive.

WR Brian Quick, Rec: 2 - 12 - 1 (3 targets)

Quick wasn't involved on offense until he came in at the goalline lined up outside the numbers. Bradford immediately through the fade route to Quick against single coverage. Quick extended well to catch the football at it's highest point before falling down in the endzone for a touchdown. Quick caught a quick slant pass on the final drive of the game for eight yards on first and 10.

WR Chris Givens, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (4 targets)

Givens' first reception was an easy one when he was wide open off of play action on a crossing route for 20 yards. Just before the end of the half, Bradford threw a perfect slant pass to Givens but the receiver dropped it. Givens was wide open down the right sideline for a touchdown on the very next snap, but Bradford slightly overthrew him and Givens couldn't reach the ball after diving forward.

TE Lance Kendricks, Rec: 3 - 35 - 1 (5 targets)

Kendricks' first reception came late in the second quarter when he ran to the flat after lining up in the backfield. He was wide open and ran down field for a first down. Kendricks caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a curl route over the middle at the goalline. Kendricks caught a quick out for a first down on the Rams' final drive.

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