Not much has gone right for these Vikings in quite some time. But with Purple Jesus (aka Peterson) limping through the Winter Park facilities, we give you one bright star shining on the team for the upcoming the holiday season – Percy Harvin.
Interestingly, Harvin has wanted nothing to do with talking about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow the last few weeks. Tebow and Harvin were teammates at Florida and thrived playing with each other, but Harvin thwarted several attempts by reporters to get his opinion on the biggest lightning rod in the Rocky Mountains. Really, though, it's Harvin who is the electrifying player in Minnesota.
In fact, the receiver corps is so decimated by bad decisions (from the personnel standpoint), bad efforts (from Bernard Berrian), misplaced faith (the coaching staff in Berrian) and a bad knee(Michael Jenkins) that Harvin isn't just the biggest star in a lackluster group of what is left standing, he's the only star.
By most measures, Harvin is the receiving leader on the team. He has the most catches (51) and the most receiving yards (554). When the Vikings put their leading touchdown receiver, Jenkins with three, on season-ending injured reserve with a torn meniscus, it left Harvin's two touchdown catches as the leader among wideouts, as well.
There is little questioning that Harvin has become more of a focal point of the offense, making his inclusion Sunday even more important after a illness knocked him out of practice late in the week. Harvin has been targeted eight times each of the last three games, more than any other Viking in each of those games. Both of his receiving touchdowns have come in the last two games, as well.
But Harvin, as Vikings fans have come to learn, is so much more than just a receiver. He is their do-it-all dynamic dynamo.
Going into last Sunday's game, Harvin was the second-leading rushing on the team, but with Peterson out, Toby Gerhart passed Harvin on the number of carries – Gerhart has 41 now and Harvin 33. But Harvin still has all the other running backs not named Peterson on rushing yards – 235 – and would have second place on touchdown runs if his third-down plunge toward the goal line Sunday had been properly ruled or properly challenged and he knows it.
"I was pretty confident I had reached the ball over. I thought the head ref that was standing over it, I think he got a good look, too, but it's over with," said Harvin, who said he never heard a whistle before reaching the ball over the goal line.
Of course, it doesn't end there with Harvin. Despite being limited on kickoff returns because of everything else he does – he has only 11 returns – he has made his efforts count, in a big way. He is averaging an incredible 36.2 yards on those returns, has one touchdown and would have had another if he wasn't caught from behind.
"I wasn't surprised (to be caught). It was 105 yards, fatigued, end of the game," Harvin said. "I wasn't surprised at all. He's a fast guy."
Harvin has lobbied on occasion for kickoff returns, but this time the coaches also knew they needed him to provide a ray of hope.
"I knew we needed a spark somewhere. Coach is always trying to look where we need a spark and when we don't, judging on whether I'll be back there," Harvin said. "I just told him I was pretty much going to be running out on the field and they were going to have to take me off."
No need. When a player is that ready to make an impact – at least a player of Harvin's immense talent and possibilities – the Vikings need to take advantage of the ability and attitude. With almost no other speed merchants available, it's Harvin or bust for the Vikings' receiving, return and sometimes rushing game for the final five weeks.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.