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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Case Keenum makes his case for the Minnesota Vikings

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By Eric Nelson
September 27, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Bold North...

•Case Closed: Minnesota QB Case Keenum proved his skeptics wrong on Sunday with an outstanding performance against Tampa Bay. Keenum threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings convincing 34-17 win. Keenum was given plenty of time to throw by his purple people protectors on the offensive line, and was in sync with wideouts Steffan Diggs (8 receptions, 173 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Adam Thielen (5 catches for 98 yards). Keenum deserves all the accolades he is getting this week…

Vikings QB Case Keenum surveys the defense

Case Keenum surveys the Buccaneers defense

•Key Game: On Sunday Detroit (2-1) comes to Minnesota (2-1) for a crucial NFC North match up. The Lions swept the Vikings last season, which essentially kept the Purple out of the playoffs…

•Closed Doors: What’s the point of having pivoting doors at US Bank Stadium if they are rarely open? For Sunday’s Tampa Bay-Minnesota game at USBS the gigantic glass doors were shut. So what if it’s 90 degrees outside, let some natural air in the dome. The pivoting doors are a gimmick…

•Cowboy Unity: Of all the snapshots from the NFL’s week 3 protests, my favorite came on Monday night in Glendale, AZ before the Cowboys-Cardinals game. Dallas owner Jerry Jones took a knee with the Cowboys and then the entire team rose as one for the Star Spangled banner. It was a great show of unity and a remarkable pivot for Jones, who according to the Dallas Morning News, donated $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January…

•Pop’s View: San Antonio Spurs HC Gregg Popovich went rip city on the POTUS this week, criticizing his recent comments about the National Anthem and not inviting Golden State to Washington DC to celebrate their NBA title. My response: You go Pop. This is one guy who gets it…

•Epic Day: Kudos to the University of St. John’s, St. Thomas and the Minnesota Twins for putting on a great show Saturday at Target Field. A whopping 37,355 fans showed up for Johnnies-Tommies – a single game NCAA D3 attendance record. There was plenty of energy in the venue and the game had a big-time feel…

•Dirt Ball: One of the cool visuals was seeing a gridiron with infield dirt and green grass. That used to be a common site when MLB and NFL teams shared facilities, but now is only seen in Oakland with the A’s and Raiders. This looked like a throwback game…

•Gotham Showdown: The Minnesota Twins are close to clinching the AL’s final wild card spot. If/when that happens, the Twins will face the NY Yankees in a one-game playoff play-in at Yankee Stadium. Historically the Yankees have been kryptonite for the Twins and have dominated them in the regular season and post-season. But, a one-game winner-take-all scenario is different than a best-of-five, or best-of-seven series. With Ervin Santana on the mound Minnesota has a legitimate chance to spring the upset…

•Evil Empire: Minnesota and New York have met four times in the playoffs (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010) and the Yankees won each series. The Twins were swept twice and lost the other match ups 3 games to 1. New York has also whipped up on Minnesota in the regular season, posting a 78-31 record since 2002…

•Twins Turnaround: Minnesota’s remarkable rebound is one of the top story lines in MLB this season. Going from 59-103 in 2016 to a possible playoff berth in 2017 is amazing. Paul Molitor could be AL manager of the year, and 1B Joe Mauer and CF Byron Buxton could win gold gloves…

•Flash Back: In 1987 the Twins stunned all of MLB by winning the World Series. Now, 30 years later, the 2017 Twins are trying to do the same thing. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. Could be an interesting October in the Land of Lakes…

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Scott Taylor

Vikings Win

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Scott Taylor

Peterson Looks Lost as Vikings Ravage Saints

By Scott Taylor

September 12, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@staylorsports ‏

Adrian Peterson looked lost. In fact, as the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Peterson’s New Orleans Saints (it feels weird just to write that) dragged on through 2 ½ hours of TV commercials, he seemed even more bewildered.

He had returned to downtown Minneapolis to be a hero. He was there to visit old friends and show Saints coach Sean Payton and his staff that he was more like the 2012 Adrian Peterson than the injured, tired 2016 Adrian Peterson.

And on his first carry, he looked pretty good. He gained four yards and made a nice move at the line of scrimmage to avoid a tackler. But that was about it. From that point on, he was exactly what Coach Payton told him he was going to be – a bit-part player on rebuilding team that already had two decent runningbacks, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara and was going to rely on a passing game with Drew Brees at the helm anyway.

So when the Minnesota Vikings finished with an impressive 29-19 win over Brees and the Saints, the numbers told a sad story. Peterson finished with six carries for 18 yards, didn’t catch a pass and played on only nine snaps. According to the NFL statistics folks, that’s the lowest of his career. I’d be surprised if Peterson finishes the season.

All he had left for the effort was a loss and about a dozen stink-eyes that he sent laser-like directly at his head coach during the game. He obviously doesn’t like to be a bench-warmer.

Look, to be fair, it’s not that Peterson is done, necessarily, but he’s certainly done in New Orleans — unless three or four other guys get hurt. He got to start Monday Night’s game and then even carried on the first play, but after that, if the TV cameras hadn’t been interested in him, we would likely have never noticed that he didn’t play much. He was a footnote in the end and the real story was on the other side of the ball.

The real story was Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford and the fact he completed 27-of-32 pass attempts for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The real story was Adam Thielen, the undrafted receiver from Minnesota State who caught nine passes for 157 yards. The real story was Stefon Diggs who caught seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns – the second was a highlight-reel catch that we’ll be watching on NFL Network for a while.

And the real, real story was Dalvin Cook, the second round draft pick in 2017 out of Florida State. He was taken in the draft by the Vikings to replace Peterson and on Monday night, he announced his arrival with authority. He finished with 22 carries for 127 yards and his last run of the night was a 33-yarder around the right side that sealed the victory.

With 127 yards, he broke Peterson’s Vikings record of 107 yards by a rookie in his first game with Minnesota, set back in 2007.

And that’s a very important number – 2007.

Time catches up to all of us. On Monday night, it caught up to the great Adrian Peterson. After 10-plus years as a runningback in the NFL he’s had a Hall of Fame career. But he hasn’t been a Hall of Fame RB since 2014. He’s been injured, banged on the head, run over by 300-pound linemen and, of course, had his troubles off the field.

It’s kind of too bad he came back – to all the boos – in a Saints uniform on Monday night. He probably should have called it a career after the 2015 season (but, of course, it’s damn hard to leave all that money on the table) and the Vikings should have probably been looking for their next Adrian Peterson after the 2013 season.

But here we are.

The Vikings were great in their opener, Dalvin Cook looks like a keeper and with a re-vamped offensive line, Sam Bradford looks like the quarterback that the St. Louis Rams believed he could be, three teams ago, back in 2010.

Fact is, if Bradford gets time to throw this season, the Vikings will be a contender. If he doesn’t, we all know what happens. Unless, of course, Dalvin Cook actually turns out to be the next Adrian Peterson.

Then it could really get exciting.

 

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Mayweather stops McGregor by TKO

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 28, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

LAS VEGAS — The legend of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. grows after defeating mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in the 10th round by TKO in a marvelously entertaining Las Vegas spectacle.

McGregor is the biggest name in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and his flair and showmanship has made him a name that sparks fire in fans and the entertainment business of the UFC.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor

Likewise, we live in a violent world and Mayweather has learned the good and bad side of violence. He does not hide from it. He’s a great 50-0 undefeated champion.

Although his character is damaged due to having served time for the domestic abuse of the mother of his children, Mayweather has rebounded and found a way to make a fortune being demonized by millions. That’s part of Mayweather’s genius: He accepts that he’s flawed with talent and zeal and God-given skills.

Make no mistake about it: he is a brilliant business man.

Just like when sports fans years ago wanted to see Larry Bird beat Magic Johnson — two great players, one White, one Black — it gets the coals hot and stokes the rage, and in many cases, the frenzy is fueled by racial differences.

It’s not personal, it’s business, and part of hyping the fight was the desire of thousands to see McGregor and his on-the-edge personality beat up Mayweather.

Mayweather has shown a history of struggling with southpaw-style fighters. McGregor was a little bigger with just enough awkwardness to sell this first-time fight as a win-win.

But McGregor’s youthful flair (he’s 29; Mayweather is 40) and surge of confidence ran into Mayweather’s superior boxing experience. McGregor has never fought more than five rounds before, and Mayweather stuck to his plan and allowed McGregor to burn so much energy being the aggressor.

As the fight wore on, Mayweather was then able to take the fight to McGregor. He started sticking jabs to a worn out McGregor’s face to win by TKO.

Not many thought this fight would go past five rounds, and certainly not 10 — nobody but Mayweather, that is. Mr. 50-0!

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Vikings: How good will they be?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

So much is riding on this 2017 Vikings season it makes you nervous even thinking about it. Playing the Seattle Seahawks in the pre-season last week was a measuring stick game. You know how good and consistent Seattle is, and how well-coached they are, and they seldom lose at home.

Seattle 20, Vikings 13 — not exactly what Vikings fans wanted. I was honestly surprised how successful they were running. It was a defensive game. I thought the Seahawks were better: they were more physical and ran the ball when and where they wanted to consistently.

I am disappointed right now in running back Latavius Murray. He was signed as a free agent from Oakland and can’t get on the field. If he doesn’t play this week against San Francisco that is a bad sign.

Rookie Dalvin Cook has been impressive but he is so young with much to learn. Last year, as we know, the Vikings could not run the football at all when Adrian Peterson got hurt. Now he’s gone and you don’t win in this league unless you can consistently run the ball.

Sam Bradford looks good at quarterback, throwing to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. But his career win-loss record in St. Louis and Philadelphia concerns me and that is hard to ignore. I do like tight end Bucky Hodges, however; he a keeper.

With three weeks before the opener, the Vikings have time to get better. The NFL is a dictator league, so you have to force your will on your opponent. The players and coaches are all good, so good that they are able to figure out your game plan and your scheme.

Since 2001, the Vikings have been in the playoffs just five times, with just one playoff victory in 2009.

When you have the Super Bowl in your home stadium, you really hope your team can be good. My expectations are for this team to blow the roof off U.S Bank Stadium.

How realistic is that coming off of an 8-8 season? I’ll keep drinking the purple Kool-Aid because they do have a solid foundation with lots of talent on defense and special teams.

But the early signs bug me. I have concerns over talented Michael Floyd’s suspension for four games. Murray has done nothing yet, as I mentioned. They gave this guy $15 million to watch? And Laquon Treadwell, last year’s number one pick, is still a big question mark.

The offensive line is better, but can they jell and become a solid versatile group?

No reason to be alarmed just yet — the Vikings lost on the road to a good football team that made the playoffs. But there are legit reasons to share with you my concerns.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Green Bay stuffs some coal into Minnesota’s Christmas stocking

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By Eric Nelson
December 24, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

GREEN BAY – Sports Nuggets from Titletown…

• Heat Wave: It was downright balmy in Green Bay on Saturday as the temperature reached 37 degrees. The not-so-frozen-tundra was partially sunlit and there were probably a few fans wishing they brought sun screen. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings were probably wishing they didn’t make the trip. A convincing 38-25 Packers win and a jet mishap was simply coal in the Purple’s stocking. No happy holidays for the Vikings this year, as they have now lost games on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve…

•Still Slinging: Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers – who was buried by critics earlier this season after some sub-par performances – proved he still has game. Rodgers gave out some early Christmas gifts to the Lambeau Field crowd of 77,856 by throwing for 347 yards, four touchdowns and running for another, as the Packers (9-6) won their fifth straight game to set up a winner take all NFC North showdown next week in Detroit…

•In Synch: Jordy Nelson caught two of Rodgers touchdown tosses and finished with nine catches for 154 yards. After a sluggish start this year, the Rodgers-Nelson tandem is clearly clicking, which is bad news for opposing defenses…

•Cal Connection: Rodgers last TD toss was a 13-yard-yard laser to Richard Rodgers in the fourth quarter. A Rodgers to Rodgers hookup always makes California fans happy, because both guys played college football for the Golden Bears…

•Purple Punch: As for the Vikings (7-8), they are officially toast and out of the NFC playoff picture. It’s never a good sign when the team jet slides off a snowy Wisconsin runway the night before they play the Packers, and it’s never a good sign when a team barely shows up for a game they have to win. But that has been the case for two consecutive weeks…

•Carved Up: Last week it was Indianapolis rolling to a 34-6 win in Minneapolis, this week it was Green Bay goring the Vikings once vaunted defense. Minnesota has allowed a whopping 72 points in two critical games. Defensive breakdowns in crunch time are a major reason why the Vikings are out of the playoff picture…

•Free Fall: Minnesota’s final game is on January 1 against Chicago at US Bank Stadium as they try to avoid a New Year’s day loss and an 0-4 holiday record. The Vikings need a win just to finish 8-8 – which is hard to believe considering that they started 5-0 and were the NFL’s last undefeated team this year…

•Cartoon-Like Numbers: The bright spot for the Vikings was WR Adam Thielen who had 12 receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Thielen’s day was purely cosmetic as Green Bay controlled the game for most of the day…

•Rare Event: The Saturday match up was only the third time Minnesota and Green Bay have played on a Saturday in the regular season. The previous two were 1973 and 1991…

•License to Win: I spotted a Wisconsin license plate on the drive to Green Bay that said, NFL13X – which of course is a reference to the Packers 13 world championships…

•Middle Town: I also discovered on the trip that Cadott, WI is equidistant between the equator and the North Pole. If Santa touches down in Cadott hopefully his sleigh won’t slide off the runway…

 

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Podcast

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Gameday Gold Radio – March 3, 2017 – s.5

Local Kid Does Good: GDG Chats with Vikings WR Adam Thielen

Segment 5: Adam Thielen’s story is an inspirational one for local youth athletes.  The Detroit Lakes native and MSU-Mankato graduate has made a name for himself with the Vikings.  The wideout led the team in receiving yards during the 2016, and GDG caught up with him recently to discuss his success and how he hopes to help the Purple improve next season.

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Gameday Gold Radio – March 3, 2017 – s.1

As the calendar flips over to March, the sports landscape is starting to get very crowded.  Eric and Larry muscle their way through all of the headlines to bring you this week’s edition of the show from the Downtown Minneapolis studio.  Most of the local Winter sports teams are covered.  Will the Wolves make a Playoff push?  How hot will Gopher hoops and the Wild be when entering their respective postseasons?  Are the Vikings moving on from Adrian Peterson?  Can the Twins provide any glimmer of hope for 2017?  And college hockey is flipping from regular to postseason as well.  We hear from Saint Cloud St. center Ben Storm.  Plus, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen talks football, inspirations, and bowling.

Wolves Trying to Make a Run

Segment 1: The NBA is gearing up for its last few weeks to the regular season.  Can the Wolves bring all of their talent and make a postseason push?  The guys look at the team’s fast return post All-Star Break.  And, at this point, which team is the favorite to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy?