The Vikings looked like a brand new team yesterday, running roughshod over the Falcons as if motivated by some rousing pregame speech from Mike Zimmer. Close! It was
facing the Falcons defense some rousing pregame text messages from Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is barred from being around the team as he awaits action on child abuse charges filed in Texas, but he's been in constant contact with Zimmer. In the locker room before yesterday's 41-point outburst, Zimmer shared some of Peterson's words of wisdom with the team.
"He just said he'd love to be out here," said LB Gerald Hodges, "would be dying to be out here with us. But everything's out of his control. He just said go out there and play your hearts out like it's your last time playing."
Teddy Bridgewater, getting his first NFL start, was similarly inspired.
"The words that Adrian texted Coach Zimmer, it was very deep," Bridgewater said. "One thing that I took away from that message was, play each down like it's your last because you never know when it's going to be your last opportunity. I think the guys got that message pretty well. We went out, we fought. It was just a great overall team effort.''
Bridgewater looked great—and came through healthy—but the real surprise was the Vikings' Peterson-replacement committee. Undrafted third-year backup Matt Asiata tallied 78 yards and found the end zone thrice, and gave some credit to Peterson. "We felt him in spirit," Asiata said.
Rookie Jerick McKinnon had just five carries heading into Sunday, so his talk about how he had been getting his own motivational texts from Peterson rang a little hollow at the time. Then McKinnon racked up 135 yards on just 18 carries, and we're forced to conclude that Peterson is better at getting his message across verbally than he thought himself capable of.