Brian Murphy / St. Paul Pioneer Press
EDEN PRAIRIE — Team owner Zygi Wilf strolled into the lobby of his evolving headquarters in Eagan on Monday morning, Oct. 23, wearing a Vikings-horn construction hard hat and the future on his mind. The Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center is 70 percent completed. The Vikings are scheduled to move there in less than six months. It will take until early 2018 for the club to reap contemporary NFL amenities.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Vikings did what they needed to do, not necessarily what they wanted to do, but in the fickle NFL it was all they should hope to get done. No need to apologize for Sunday's 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at U.S. Bank Stadium. The justification is in the details of another methodical home win that is stockpiling equity and confidence.
MINNEAPOLIS—Patience is the virtue that illuminated hard truths Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has accepted barely two seasons into his NFL career. The 2016 first-round draft choice is answering for unfulfilled promise by pouring time and energy into becoming a better professional while maximizing a new opportunity to prove his viability on a team teeming with playmaking receivers.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tight end Kyle Rudolph said the Vikings have discovered a winning formula on offense, part of which is doing no harm to their stingy defense. "We just try not to screw it up for those guys," Rudolph said Wednesday, Oct. 18. "They're pretty good on that side of the ball." Try very good. The Vikings rank among the top five teams in the NFL in key per-game defensive categories, including scoring (17.5 points), rushing (78.7 yards) and total yards (295.5).
MINNEAPOLIS—There was no warmup act, no script and no dress rehearsal for the great duck-duck-(gray duck)-goose celebration of 2017, which would not have been allowed in the stuffy NFL of past seasons. Kyle Rudolph simply walked into the Vikings huddle on second-and-7 at the Chicago 13-yard line midway through the third quarter Monday night, Oct. 9, and told his teammates what they were going to do if they scored a touchdown.
CHICAGO—Sam Bradford's body language cried out for mercy, and he finally received it when there was nowhere left for the Vikings' quarterback to crawl but the infirmary. He was set up for an ambush and wilted accordingly. Coach Mike Zimmer and company can genuflect to an able Case Keenum, a driven Jerick McKinnon and their big-play defense for leading the Vikings to salvation in an ugly but defiant 20-17 victory.
MINNEAPOLIS — Sam Bradford said Friday, Oct. 6, his left knee feels more comfortable than at any point since he was injured Sept. 11 and that he is anxious to see if it continues responding well after a full week of practice. The Vikings quarterback stopped short of declaring himself ready to play Monday night against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, but his optimism was palpable in his first public comments in more than two weeks.
NEW YORK — Every day in the big leagues is Christmas morning to Matt Belisle, the accidental closer who embodies the unpredictable journey of these 2017 Minnesota Twins. The affable Texan was signed only 10 days before spring training to a modest $2.05 million contract to be a veteran set-up man while mentoring a young bullpen about managing failure, success and the roller coaster ride of a 162-game season. Nothing in the job description mentioned the 37-year-old right-hander closing games, not with Brandon Kintzler returning to the role and a rebuild on Minnesota's horizon.
NEW YORK — Ervin Santana flippantly guaranteed a win over the storied New York Yankees in Tuesday's American League wild-card game. Like the rest of the upstart Minnesota Twins, he has nothing to lose. Santana already is 0-5 with a 6.43 earned-run average in six starts at Yankee Stadium II, where he will take the mound in a one-game showdown against Minnesota's postseason archnemesis. He also was tagged for a loss in relief for the Angels during the 2009 American League Championship Series.
MINNEAPOLIS—Two steps forward, one knee back. Emotional investment in these Vikings is a dizzying endeavor fraught with wild mood swings from euphoria to despair, the dominance of two revealing victories countered by the sloppiness of two revolting losses and the health drama that stalks this franchise like a dark passenger. The 14-7 loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday, Oct. 1, at U.S. Bank Stadium recast expectations again. Minnesota limped past the season's quarter poll with more questions about their identity and ominous news from the infirmary.