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Vikings Win a “Springboard” Game

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September 24, 2012

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Just another game for the Vikings when they defeated the 49ers 24-13 yesterday at Mall of America Field?

“Definitely not,” said Kyle Rudolph.  “It was a huge game for us to springboard our season.  It moves us to 2-1.  That’s a great football team that we just beat.”

Rudolph, the Vikings’ tight end who caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Christian Ponder, used his 6-6, 258-pound body to create mismatches against the 49ers.  It helps, too, that he and Ponder, both draft choices in 2011, have spent many hours together working out.

“I have a ton of trust in him.  I think he has a ton of trust in me,” Rudolph said. “I know (if) I do my job in the route side of things he’s going to make the throw.  He’s shown it time and time again.”

The 49ers were 2-0 coming into the game and considered an NFC power.  The Vikings after defeating the Jaguars in their opening game were mistake-prone and didn’t look focused in a sloppy 23-20 loss to the Colts a week ago yesterday.

During the past week some Vikings players were outspoken about team performance.  That seemed to help the Vikings focus yesterday, and they impressed with their execution offensively and defensively.

“I think it (the game) was a tone-setter for our team,” said defensive end Brian Robison.  “We had a lot of guys step up this week—talk to the team (and) tell them what we needed to do this week.  What we needed to do better. …We showed the world we’re a team to be reckoned with in the NFC.”

A confidence building win for the Vikings?  “Absolutely,” Robison said. “This (the 49ers) is the best team in the NFC.  For us to go out and pretty much dominate the game the way we did, just shows how good we can be.”

Vikings Stadium and Other Notes:

No word after the 49ers-Vikings game whether Randy Moss liked the post-game buffet at the stadium.

Attendance at yesterday’s game was 57,288, the first time the Vikings have announced consecutive home crowds of fewer than 60,000 since 1996.  (The opening game at home on September 9 had an announced attendance of 56,607).

General manager Rick Spielman was at yesterday’s game and said he plans to scout college players each Saturday this fall.

Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith admires NFL veteran secondary players Charles Woodson and Charles Tillman for their ability to strip ball carriers.  Smith wants to be a turnover-causing player for the Vikings.  “I am not by any means near any of those two guys but watching them and thinking about it daily is something I am trying to do more and more of,” Smith said.

Vikings rookie placekicker Blair Walsh, a sixth round draft choice, said his salary is $390,000.  He received a signing bonus but doesn’t have any incentive-based bonuses in his contract.

A printed program error set off a flurry of hurt feelings and emails last week.  John Williams was listed as a wrestler in the program that honored him and eight other new inductees into the University of Minnesota M Club Hall of Fame last Thursday.  Williams, who passed away in July, was a key contributor to the Gophers’ 1967 Big Ten championship football team, and was a Time Magazine All-American offensive tackle.

Several years ago the Gophers printed season football tickets honoring the late Sandy Stephens, the former All-American quarterback on the 1961 and 1962 Rose Bowl teams.  “S-t-e-v-e-n-s” is how the name was spelled on the tickets.

That error, like the Williams flub, didn’t go over well including among those who take pride in Stephens being college football’s first black All-American quarterback.  The concern, however, was about school pride, not race, according to Al Nuness, an African-American standout for the Gophers in basketball during the late 1960s and today part of a mentoring group for the athletic department.

The Stephens error was “incomprehensible” to Nuness.  “It had nothing to do with black or white. We all bleed maroon and gold,” Nuness said.  “This is our history.  How can we make these kinds of mistakes (Williams included)?”

Twins TV analyst and former big league shortstop Roy Smalley thinks the Twins’ unsettled starting pitching rotation in 2013 could begin with Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno and Kyle Gibson.  Diamond and Deduno joined the Twins during the season in 2012 while Gibson has yet to pitch in a big league game.

Fritz Waldvogel was an All-American senior for St. Thomas last season who made big plays as a receiver and kick returner, scoring 46 career touchdowns.  He wore No. 4, a jersey number that’s been given to freshman Jack Gilliland from California.  Gilliland, 5-9, 154-pounds, is a pass receiver and already has a 63 yard kickoff return and 25 yard punt return.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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