NFC North: Fred Zamberletti

Wrap-up: Vikings 33, Redskins 26

December, 24, 2011
12/24/11
4:10
PM ET

A few thoughts on an eventful and costly 33-26 victory at FedEx Field:

What it means: The Minnesota Vikings snapped a six-game losing steak and avoided tying the franchise record for consecutive losses. But it came at a price. Tailback Adrian Peterson (left knee) and quarterback Christian Ponder (concussion) suffered injuries on consecutive plays in the third quarter, and Peterson's injury appeared particularly gruesome. Also, by winning their third game this season, the Vikings eliminated themselves from contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

PetersonWatch: The Vikings will keep their fingers crossed on Peterson, but he was unable to put any weight on the knee as he was helped off the field and later needed a cart to get to the locker room. The late-season timing of this injury, if it includes a torn ligament, could threaten Peterson's availability for the start of the 2012 season.

WebbWatch: Backup quarterback Joe Webb once again played like gangbusters after Ponder departed, accounting for three touchdowns -- two through the air and one on the ground. The Vikings' energy level with Webb in the game is unmistakable.

End of run I: Safety Mistral Raymond's fourth-quarter interception of Rex Grossman was the Vikings' first in 10 games, ending a run that set a new NFL record. It came at a critical moment and set up the possession that made it a two-score game with about four minutes remaining. The Vikings entered the game with an NFL-low six interceptions this season.

End of run II: Longtime athletic trainer and current team historian Fred Zamberletti had attended every game in Vikings history before Saturday, a streak of 1,049 games including pre- and post-season. Zamberletti, 79, is ill and was unable to make the trip.

What's next: The Vikings will close out the regular season next Sunday by hosting the Chicago Bears.

Third and one: Vikings

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
2:55
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

After Minnesota’s 27-17 loss at Pittsburgh, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
  1. Vikings coaches and players are just a wee bit upset about the fourth-quarter tripping penalty on tight end Jeff Dugan; it wiped out a touchdown reception by Sidney Rice. Coach Brad Childress said Sunday that Dugan executed a legal and textbook cut block, and on Monday, Childress spoke with NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira. Childress’ opinion was unchanged afterward but he said: “I’m satisfied that I was able to tell my side of it and he could see my side of it.” I’ll have more on this play Wednesday in our Dirty Laundry feature, but for now I’ll say I don’t think Dugan intended to trip linebacker James Harrison in the true sense of the rule. But you also have to consider the way the play happened at full speed: Dugan’s feet were in the air when Harrison fell down. Discuss among yourselves and we’ll meet back here Wednesday.
  2. I’m not sure if receiver Bernard Berrian (leg injury) will be ready for Sunday’s game against Green Bay. But it’s pretty clear that quarterback Brett Favre’s favorite receivers at this point are Rice and Percy Harvin. Favre targeted them on 24 of the 31 passes he threw to wide receivers Sunday. Rice caught a career-high 11, while Harvin had three. I’ll be interested to see how Green Bay defends Rice, who has taken huge steps as a physical downfield receiver since the teams’ last meeting. In his past two games, in fact, Rice has caught 17 passes for 312 yards. The Packers have two big, physical corners in Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Perhaps they should let Harris match up with Rice in a test of strength and leverage.
  3. Sunday’s loss was the 1,000th game in both the history of the Vikings and the career of team icon Fred Zamberletti. That’s right. Zamberletti was the team’s first athletic trainer and has worked every game in team history. Zamberletti, 77, retired from the team’s medical staff earlier this decade and is now a consultant/team historian. Speaking with a small group of reporters Sunday morning, Zamberletti emotionally recalled his years with the team and said: “I’m the luckiest man alive.”
And here’s one question I’m still asking:
Who is your rookie of the year? Harvin has to be considered a top candidate at this point. He ranks second among NFL rookies with 23 receptions for 285 yards and two scores, and is leading the entire league in kickoff returns with a 29.8 average and another pair of touchdowns. Indianapolis receiver Austin Collie (24 receptions) and Chicago’s Johnny Knox (four touchdowns) are also in the mix. But Harvin has added a level of playmaking to the Vikings’ offense and special teams that simply wasn’t present before his arrival.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8