Vikings have half the playoff formula

If Saturday's games were any indication, teams still rely on defense and running the ball in the playoffs. If that's the case, the Vikings are halfway there.

Just when everyone thought that the NFL has irrevocably turned the way of pass, pass, run to keep defenses honest, pass, pass, fake a run and pass, run to move the chains and pass again, a funny thing happened Saturday. And it is a recurring theme that rears its ugly head every now and then. When you want to win a big game, you run the ball to do it.

It's funny how, when it comes to winning championships, old-school football still rules the day. Play defense. Run the ball. If you were playing fantasy football, you likely would have jumped on Russell Wilson and Tom Brady. You would have been wrong. When it gets to crunch time, NFL teams revert to what has always worked. Play defense. Run the ball.

On Saturday, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady didn't throw a touchdown pass. They barely combined to throw for 300 yards. Instead it was Beast Mode and LeGarrette Blount. It can be argued that neither Wilson nor Brady was the better quarterback on the field Saturday. If not for an epic Marques Colston mistake, New Orleans had a chance at the end of its game at Seattle because the better quarterback on the field wasn't wearing blue and green. Beast Mode and defense won that game.

Brady didn't throw for 200 yards, but the result of the Patriots game with the Colts was decided early, only prolonged for rating purposes. Blount ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns, with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen serving as backup singers in a run-oriented domination.

What makes this postseason anomaly ring true is that, while quarterbacks are paid the most, when it comes to a one-and-done type of game, teams revert to the base offense the Vikings run with Adrian Peterson as its centerpiece. The Vikings have the ideal workhorse to get that job done.

In a pair of games to get to the doorstep of the Super Bowl, Seattle and New England advanced. They did so with impressive quarterbacks whose primary job Saturday was to turn around and hand the ball to a running back who could hit the alleys created by their offensive linemen. The Vikings have the formula to be a team that can do the same in the postseason. Apparently, the missing ingredient is the player to hand them the ball.

Offensive explosions got the teams that are still alive in the championship hunt, but defense and running the ball got the first two entrants in the NFL's final four chalked and locked for playing next week. They didn't do it with the high-octane offense that brought the teams to the playoffs. They did it in a way that teams have won titles with since the Super Bowl was in single-digit numbers: play defense and run the ball.

The Vikings have half of that equation already in house. Get the other half done and the Vikings may be playing, not watching, a year from now.


  • The Vikings will bring Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in for a second interview Monday, according to ESPN, as part of their head coaching search. The team is expected to be bring two or three finalists to meet with team ownership and make a decision on the next head coach this week. Another favorite among the those interviewed is Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

  • Vikings brass was in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday to interview San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. The 49ers play the Panthers in the NFC Divisional game.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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