QB Christian Ponder has given the team a spark primarily because of his poise on third downs. Drives are lasting longer because he’s making things happen, whereas Donovan McNabb often sputtered and threw inaccurately. In the three fourth quarters Ponder has played, he’s accounted for nine third-down conversions. He’s converted eight with his arm – completing 10-of-14 passes – and one with his feet – a 12-yard run on third-and-7. McNabb, meanwhile, accounted for just two third-down conversions in the five fourth quarters he played this season.
FS Husain Abdullah notched his first sack of the season on a nice blitz. But he also gave up a 39-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen. Abdullah came up to jam Olsen at the line of scrimmage. But he missed the jam and never recovered.
DE Jared Allen extended his team record for consecutive games with a sack to 10. He has a league-high 12.5 through eight games and is on pace for 25 sacks. The NFL record is 22.5 by Michael Strahan in 2001. Strahan had 14 sacks through eight games that season.
CB Chris Cook, the troubled cornerback who was suspended last week after being charged with felony domestic assault, could have his fate decided this week when the front office and coaching staff will meet to discuss his future with the franchsie.
RB Adrian Peterson had a career-high 76 yards receiving on five catches on Sunday. With the Panthers showing the Vikings a rare two-high safety look, rookie QB Christian Ponder took the underneath routes to Peterson.
RB Toby Gerhart was averaging 1.7 carries per game, but got five carries in Sunday’s win at Carolina. He had four carries for 27 yards in a second-half touchdown drive that also saw Peterson get four carries for 34 yards and a touchdown.
WR Percy Harvin is one of the team’s toughest players. At only 185 pounds, he’s also one of the most fearless. He had an outstanding game on Sunday despite some rib pain that he’s been battling since the preseason. Harvin’s highlight Sunday was an 11-yard catch on third-and-8 during the team’s game-winning drive. He caught the ball in the right flat and put a spin move on cornerback Chris Gamble that left Gamble clutching nothing but his helmet in disbelief afterward.
DE Everson Griffen has become one of the team’s best special teams players. He’s freakishly fast for his 273-pound body, and is fearless running down the field. The Vikings use him as one of their gunners on the punt coverage teams. Sunday, he had two more special teams tackles and a forced fumble.
LB E.J. Henderson had his first sack of the season and a forced fumble on Carolina’s first snap of the game. The turnover led to the Vikings’ first touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Vikings are hoping the bye week allows Henderson to get some much-needed rest for his troublesome left knee. The balky knee has kept Henderson from playing much in the nickel defense this season.
TE Kyle Rudolph, the team’s second-round pick and best friend of first-round pick Christian Ponder, caught his first two passes from Ponder in Sunday’s win. They went for 15 yards, including a long of 13. The two of them are working to regain the nice rhythm they had in training camp.
WR Michael Jenkins isn’t a flashy player by any stretch, but he’s a good route runner with deceptive speed for his size. He had two catches for 30 yards, including a 24-yarder on Sunday.
LB Chad Greenway had a game-high 13 tackles against the Panthers. He’s an active player with enough speed and instincts to close quickly. He showed that when he stopped quarterback Cam Newton for a 5-yard gain on third-and-7 with less than 30 seconds left in the game. That forced the Panthers to try a 31-yard field goal, which Olindo Mare missed.