The Vikings survived. Now they will need to sift through the carnage of Monday MRIs and X-rays to see which bodies have enough life in them for another physical AFC matchup, this time on the road.
The Vikings defense allowed 21 fourth-quarter points and somehow came away with a 33-31 win against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that went to the AFC Championship last year.
After losing Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson and nickel back Benny Sapp for periods of Sunday's game, and Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield and first-round draft Percy Harvin for the remainder of contest, the Vikings will need a week of rapid recovery to meet the defending Super Bowl champions at full strength.
"We knew what type of game that was going to be coming from them preparing this week, but we were able to match it," said Peterson, who left the game briefly in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. "This is the most physical team I've ever been a part of so there really was no issue at all. We just needed to make sure that we were going to come out and pound, pound and make the big plays and take advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves."
Peterson made one big play – a 58-yard run – but was injured the next time he touched the ball, when Baltimore linebacker Dannell Ellerbe landed on Peterson's ankle while tackling him for a 2-yard loss.
Harvin hurt his left shoulder when he was tackled returning a kickoff in the fourth quarter. He required some attention on the field before walking to the sideline with his arm hanging at his side.
Harvin told Viking Update after the game he would be fine, but his arm was in a sling. He declined to comment further.
"I think he dinged it, that same shoulder. He's a tough guy," Vikings coach Brad Childress said after the game. "They X-rayed it and there was nothing extra in there. Just uncomfortable right now."
Harvin also hurt his shoulder in the second quarter of the Rams game the previous Sunday and didn't catch a pass after that. He didn't practice last Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday and was listed as questionable for the Ravens game.
Winfield hurt the top of his right foot on the first series of the second quarter and didn't return to the game, despite Childress saying he lobbied to come back in the second half.
"I stepped to the right and as soon as I tried to push off to go back to the left, it twisted. I don't know what's wrong, but it's a little swollen, a little sore right now," Winfield said after the game. "I've got seven days to get ready for Pittsburgh."
The deficiency in the secondary was amplified because nickel back Benny Sapp was also injured in the first half.
"I'm still ringing now. Dude blindsided me, helmet to helmet," Sapp said in the locker room. "It's all good. You get back up and you've just got to keep playing. If you can feel your legs moving, you've got to fight through it."
The medical staff took his helmet away from him and conducted tests. They re-evaluated him at halftime and allowed him to return in the second half.
"They did the right thing, took the right procedures," Sapp said. "When the head is ringing, you never know. Those guys are doing a hell of a job, great job (by) our trainers."
Sapp said they ruled out a concussion.
The Ravens were able to take advantage of the injuries in the secondary. They passed for 367 yards – 234 of those coming in the second half without Winfield in the game.
"We tried to take advantage of it as much as possible," Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said of Winfield and Sapp's absences. "Mark (Clayton) went up once in the end zone and made a good catch. You have to give it to them, they fought hard with the men they had in there, but we definitely tried taking advantage of a few things that they had missing because of injury."
"It was real physical," Sapp said. "They play hard, They got a good team."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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