Receiver Jarius Wright went to visualizing a big catch after dropping the same one in practice Friday. It worked. Plus, get nearly 20 notes that help tell the story of the game.
Prior to Sunday's 34-24 win over the Detroit Lions
, Jarius Wright
had been the equivalent to the Vikings' Invisible Man. After suffering an ankle injury in the preseason, Wright hadn't been active for any of the Vikings' first nine games.
But with Percy Harvin
sidelined with an ankle injury, Wright was thrust into the spotlight and, on the fifth offensive play of the game facing a third-and-10 situation, Wright made his first catch memorable. He hauled in a 54-yard bomb from Christian Ponder
and scored his first NFL touchdown two plays later.
Having been forced to sit and watch the first nine games of his rookie season, Wright said he has been trying to visualize moments just like that. He also had to eliminate the bad memory of that pass route run in practice Friday, when he dropped the identical pass he caught Sunday.
"I learned back in college that you (can) envision things like that or speak them into existence," Wright said. "My coaches back in college used to always tell me, ‘See yourself making the play the day before.' I had visions of me making that catch numerous times. To be honest, we ran that play in practice and I dropped it. That's what I was making sure I caught the ball before I even tried to score."
Wright said the last couple of months have been difficult on him because he hasn't been able to make any game day contributions to the team, but said the wait had been worth it when you have moments like he had against the Lions Sunday.
"It's been hard on me," Wright said. "It would be hard on anybody that likes to play the game of football and I wanted to get out there and help the team. (I'm) not saying I hadn't been helping at practice and everything, but just the opportunity to get out there and help your team on Sunday, I got that chance today and tried to make the most of it."
While some players might grouse about being inactive and seemingly a forgotten man in the Vikings offense, Wright never lost his faith and, rather than complain about not getting opportunities, he thanked Frazier Sunday for finally giving him the opportunity and not looking elsewhere to replace Harvin while he is down with injury.
"I'm not that type of guy," Wright said. "I actually went up to Coach Frazier and said thank you for giving me the opportunity. Even though Percy was down, we have a lot of great receivers. We could have picked up a receiver from anywhere. You know how the NFL works. So, I thanked Coach Frazier for giving me the opportunity."
He said one of his strongest supporters was the guy he replaced, saying that Harvin has been instrumental into his transition from college to the NFL.
"Percy is always a great help – not only this week, but from Day One when I got here and Percy saw me. I think he knew we had very similar styles. Percy would come and tell me, ‘use your speed' or do such-and-such to try to get a better release. Percy is a great guy and helps me out a lot."
Harvin isn't Wright's only fan. Ponder said that, given the patience Wright has shown, he has earned his stripes and should remain on the active roster even after Harvin returns. Asked if the two could co-exist in the same offense, Ponder said there's no doubt in his mind.
"I think it would be easy, especially having a guy like Bill Musgrave as our offensive coordinator," Ponder said. "He's going to find ways to get both of them the ball. Jarius obviously earned a spot to play for the rest of the year. We want to get him out on the field. They are two very dynamic players, which would be fun to have on the field."
The 34 points scored by the Vikings Sunday were the most scored in any game this season.
Adrian Peterson crossed the 1,000-yard milestone on the first drive of the third quarter, but, thanks to a 134-yard second half rushing the ball, he finished the game with 1,128 yards on the season, which leads the NFL by a pretty wide margin.
The Lions had 23 first downs in the game, but just two of them came via the run.
The Vikings had 403 yards of total offense and, while it was only 35 yards more than the Lions, much of Detroit's yardage came late when the Vikings were in a defensive shell that allowed several mid-range passes to be completed.
Ponder completed 75 percent of his passes (24-of-32) – his highest completion percentage since Week 2. He finished with a passer rating of 114.2 – his second highest single-game passer rating of the season.
Blair Walsh had six touchbacks Sunday, giving him 41 for the season and breaking the single-season record of 40 set by Mitch Berger in 1998.
Walsh also made four field goals. To date, he has made good on 23 of 24 field goal attempts and is averaging 10 points a game.
The Vikings continued to struggle in the red zone. On Sunday, they scored just one touchdown in four trips into the red zone.
The Vikings dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 34:24, while Detroit had the ball for just 25:36 – almost a nine-minute disparity.
What makes that time of possession edge more impressive was that Detroit held the ball for 15:31 of the first half, but just 10:05 of the final 30 minutes.
After catching just two passes in the previous three games combined, Kyle Rudolph caught seven passes for 64 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
Calvin Johnson had his Megatron cape on Sunday, finishing with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.
Peterson had his fourth straight game with 100 or more rushing yards and, in that span, has posted rushing days of 153, 123, 182 and 171 yards.
Peterson also had his third straight game with a run of 60 yards or more.
Ponder completed passes to 10 different players. Unfortunately, one of them was himself. He had a pass batted by Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril that came right back to Ponder. It was his first career reception, but he probably doesn't want it, because his career receiving numbers are now one catch for minus-15 yards.
The Lions put together an impressive drive as the game moved to the second quarter. Starting from their own 8-yard line, Detroit drove all the way to the Vikings 10-yard line, stringing together 10 plays without facing a third down. But, once in the red zone, the Vikings defense rose up and Kevin Williams got an 11-yard sack of Stafford, forcing the Lions to settle for a field goal and kept the Vikings ahead 10-3, instead of potentially cutting the deficit to 10-7.
With 10 points in the first quarter Sunday, the Vikings have now outscored their opponents 60-37 in the first quarter of games this year.
Chad Greenway recorded his first interception since 2009. It was the sixth pick of his career, three of them coming vs. Detroit.
The paid attendance at the Metrodome was 64,059 – the first official sellout of the 2012 season.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.