By Jim Weidner. Entering this game, the 6-7 Indianapolis Colts and the 7-6 Minnesota Vikings were fighting to keep their playoff chances alive. The winner of the game would be the team that wanted it the most and on Sunday, and that team was the Colts. The Colts didn’t just beat the Vikings on Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis at US Bank Stadium, they dominated them, winning 34-6.
Here are 5 takeaways from the game:
- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is proving he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. When Andrew Luck came out of Stanford, it was predicted that Luck would become one of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL. In his fifth season, Luck finally reaches that elite echelon level as a starting quarterback. Against a tough Vikings defense, Luck looked poised and precise and made the Vikings defense look average. Going 21 of 28 for 250 yards with 2 touchdown passes with zero interceptions, Luck led his team to a dominate victory.
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano was the superior head coach in this game. Chuck Pagano has gotten a lot of heat as of late as a result of the Colts poor play and disappointing season. Chuck Pagano not only had his team ready to play, but they looked like a team that would not leave US Bank Stadium without a win. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who coordinates the defense, didn’t have his team ready to play and they looked nothing like a 7-6 team.
- The Colts offensive line has been criticized throughout the season, but they played a great game. Credit must go to Colts first year offensive line coach Joe Philbin for having his offensive line unit ready to play for this game. It helps that Luck is so elusive in the pocket, but credit the Colts offensive line for not giving up a sack against the highly productive Vikings defensive line. They also paved the way for veteran running back Frank Gore to rush for 101 yards on 26 carries.
- Even with the return of running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings continue to show they can’t run the ball. Adrian Peterson made his return to action from a knee injury on Sunday, but the Vikings continued their season long struggle in running the ball. Peterson rushed for 22 yards on just 6 carries. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman needs desperately to upgrade the Vikings offensive line this offseason. Along with struggling to open up holes for the running game, the offensive line gave up 5 sacks on the day.
- After tight end Kyle Rudolph and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the Vikings don’t have the offensive personnel to have a contending offense. Rudolph had 8 catches for 97 yards on Sunday, but wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the Vikings only reliable wide receiver, had just 2 catches for 13 yards. You can’t blame quarterback Sam Bradford for the Vikings struggles on offense. Bradford just doesn’t have the offensive fire power to contend in the NFL. Spielman and the rest of the Vikings personnel department have failed to provide Bradford with the players he needs to move this offense.
Sadly for the Colts, this win doesn’t do their playoff chances much good. Both the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans were winners on Sunday, keeping the Colts in third place and a game behind both. Next week, they will travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders who beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Colts will need the high level of play to continue next week.
With the loss, the Vikings drop to 7-7 and find their chances of making the playoffs dwindling. Although the Detroit Lions lost to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears. With the Packers win, the Vikings are now in second place by themselves with the Vikings now sitting in third place. The Vikings will travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers on Christmas Eve and it is a must win for the Vikings.