Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings
November, 24, 2013
By Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 26-26 tie with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
What it means: Well, it's hard to say. On one hand, the Vikings (kind of) broke their four-game losing streak at Lambeau Field, and have to be encouraged by many of the things Christian Ponder did on Sunday. But there's no getting around the fact Minnesota had a 23-7 lead in the fourth quarter and appeared ready to deliver a body blow to their biggest rival. Well, at least we know they probably won't end up in a tie in the draft standings.
Stock watch: Rising: Toby Gerhart. The backup running back has talked many times about how he's auditioning for his shot at free agency next year after spending three years behind Adrian Peterson, and when he got his chance to work on Sunday, Gerhart didn't disappoint. He gained 91 yards on eight carries, getting more work than usual while Peterson played with a strained groin, and broke several big runs on the Vikings' game-tying overtime drive after the Packers started the extra period with a field goal. Gerhart didn't match his career high of 109 yards, but as he gets close to free agency, he might have made himself a little money with what he did on Sunday.
Running game surges: Peterson, who was listed as questionable with a strained groin, churned out 146 yards on 32 carries, joining Gerhart to put together the Vikings' best running game of the season. The Vikings finished with 232 rushing yards, eclipsing their previous season-best total of 169 yards on Nov. 3 against the Cowboys.
Vikings' CB depth tested: Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes had the finest game of his short career, breaking up a handful of passes, including one in the end zone, but he left the game for several series after landing awkwardly on a pass breakup late in the third quarter. As a result, the Vikings -- who had already lost A.J. Jefferson to a neck injury and were missing Josh Robinson because of a fractured sternum -- had to use backup safety Robert Blanton at slot cornerback while Marcus Sherels took Rhodes' spot in the base defense. Rhodes was able to return to the game in the fourth quarter, before eventually leaving with concussion symptoms.
What's next: The Vikings (2-8-1) return home to face the Chicago Bears next Sunday.