Vikings, Greenway and The Journal Bid Adieu in Win Over the Bears
Image courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsLittle can be gauged by what we saw Sunday since both teams had little to play for, and the Bears had little interest. Besides Bears quarterback Matt Barkley scoring on a touchdown reception, he helped engineer five team turnovers (Barkley had two picks and a fumble that turned into six points for the Vikings) and was replaced by a quarterback called Fales—and we wondered if Barkley was just forced to change uniforms.
The Vikings finished the season 8-8, which is far cry from the preseason hype and the 5-0 start, so there will be plenty of changes coming in the offseason. The inaugural team at The Vault went bankrupt with a 3-8 finish and will be remembered for what might have been. But we feel they are still not far away from contending in 2017—a year in which they are already undefeated. (Well, technically, they are.)
Sam Bradford had one of his better games of the season: 25 for 33, for 250 yards, three touchdown passes and a pick (114.5 quarter rating). He even ran the ball for 24 yards at one point. In addition, he kept his accuracy high in the game and set an NFL record for accuracy in a season, finishing at 71.6. It means little for a team that finished 8-8, but it certainly makes one wonder what he could have done with a healthy offensive line in front of him this season.
Kyle Rudolph had a couple records of his own, but they were team records. On the game, Rudolph caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown pass—one of his best performances of the year. As a result, he caught 83 passes on the season, which broke the team tight ends record of Joe Senser (who was in attendance) of 79 receptions. And Rudy also sets the Vikings franchise record for career TDs by a tight end. For many who had called for his head all season, he had a pretty decent one in the end.
Chad Greenway was all over the place on Sunday, but not necessarily on the field. He was the last player introduced before the game, was on the big screen often and spent a lot of time on the field after the game with his family. It hasn’t been announced that he was ending his 11-year career, but it sure seemed like it, as he addressed the media after the game. Greenway has been a great player and leader for this organization and an even greater person for the Minnesota community. That's me talking; now listen to the head coach say it:
“Chad is a true professional,” Mike Zimmer said. “He’s a leader in the community; he’s a leader on the field. He’s a tremendous competitor. He will truly always be one of my best guys.”
Jarius Wright had five catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. The disappearance of him this season is one of the great mysteries of 2016.
Eric Kendricks, had 10 tackles on the game and once again led the team in tackles this season. He surpassed his old college teammate Anthony Barr in 2016, and Barr’s play (despite his great play on the defensive score against the Bear) this season is mystery No. 2.
Jerick McKinnon had a nice game at running back: 16 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown and another touchdown through the air. Was he auditioning for the fulltime starting role for next season in the potential wake of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson? He certainly made the most of the opportunity on Sunday.
Kai Forbath was five-for-five in PATs and also made a field goal. Give the man a contract extension.
Should(n’t) be Ending
This website. But that’s the way it goes, sometimes. There was a time this season I thought the opportunity would present itself for me to write about a championship team. But if you have been checking in here often in 2016, we all know what happened there.
For me, it has been an enjoyable three seasons writing for Vikings Journal. It afforded me the opportunity to connect with this community we were building here, and that has been a new and gratifying experience for me—game-day threads were definitely my favorite part of the week. I hope my perspective from inside the Vikings locker room and press box has afforded a new and different one than you were used to, and that you enjoyed some of the moments along the way.
Thanks for all your participation and kind words through the years. I hope to hook up with you all again in game threads down the road. I don’t say good-bye, only see you later, and Skol to you for all the best ahead.
As for Vikings Journal, well, I will let the second Nobel Prize winner from the state of Minnesota, and my favorite artist, have the last word.
Thanks, everyone—Joe Oberle
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