If you told me the Minnesota Vikings upset the San Francisco 49ers and I didn’t see the game, I would’ve assumed they pulled out a close game late. I wouldn’t of predicted the Vikings to come out and be in control the entire game like they were on Sunday.
From their opening drive that ended in a fourth down touchdown pass, Minnesota never looked back, and did not relinquish their lead.
So how did they do it? How did they stand toe-to-toe with arguably the best team in the league, and beat them at their own game?
One of the announcers even remarked, ‘the Vikings out 49er-ed the 49ers.’ Which isn’t that far off.
To me, it all boiled down to execution. The Vikings were better on third down, and they came away with touchdowns in the red zone. Not to mention time of possession, which they won by nearly seven minutes.
Even with Adrian Peterson failing to break off long runs, the Vikings never shied away from the run, and it payed off. They maintained a good enough ground game, to still open up the passing game for Christian Ponder.
Ponder without question was just better than Alex Smith on this Sunday. Smith certainly didn’t play bad, but he was outdueled in this one.
In some what of a coming out party, Ponder was cool and collected all game, making plays at the right time throughout the contest. He did exactly what the team needed him to do: not turn the ball over, manage the game, and make smart plays with his arm and legs.
Ponder also managed to avoid taking a sack, and racked up another 33 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
You can go down the line of all the positions in this game: offensive line, defensive line, secondary, and in nearly every category, the Vikings out executed the 49ers.
While I won’t go as far to call the Vikings’ game plan a page out of the 49ers’ playbook, they did commit to the same basic principles that have made San Francisco into one the league’s elite teams.
Specifically when it comes to finding a balance with the run and pass, and being physical on defense.
This young Vikings team has taken a step in a the right direction with this big victory. Beating one of the league’s best will give them a tremendous boost of confidence going forward, and fans should be optimistic that they will be competitive in nearly every contest.