It's time to look at how the Vikings' team MVP candidates shape up:
1. RB Adrian Peterson: It was not Peterson's best game, despite 92 yards rushing and a 25-yard reception. First, he was stopped at the goal line on 4th-and-1 before the end of the half, a play where ORT Phil Loadholt was stood up. It appeared that Peterson might have been better-served running outside on the play, but it's difficult to tell if he would have scored. The zone series was mostly ineffective against the disciplined Patriots, who held Peterson to 3.7 yards per carry and a long of nine yards. Still, he scored a TD on what appeared to be a botched blocking scheme and kept the chains moving for the most part.
2. LB Chad Greenway: Although Greenway had another busy day in the tackle department, with a game-high 11, he was late on a rare blitz in the fourth quarter on a Danny Woodhead dump-off that made for a game-clinching first down. Not all Greenway's fault, of course, but not his forte, either. But it was the second game in a row where he set the tone by opening the team's first defensive series with a big stop near the line of scrimamge. He has played at a consistently high level, with at least eight tackles in every game, but perhaps lacks only the game-changing plays (sacks, interceptions, fumbles) that earn players Pro Bowl bids.
3. WR-KR Percy Harvin: You have to wonder what Randy Moss' release means for Harvin, because the tape showed that Moss, more than any other Viking, dictated coverage. The Patriots seldom blitzed and almost always played Brandon Meriweather over the top of Moss, leaving Harvin to roam freely over the middle. He did that, catching six passes for 104 yards despite a fairly rough ankle sprain, in what can be called a gutsy, gritty performance. Harvin played with the ankle injury for the better part of three quarters and never slowed down, especially not on his outstanding two-point conversion reception from Tarvaris Jackson. Harvin did little on his two kick returns but forced the Patriots to kick one short and one out of bounds simply with the fear factor he represented. It won't be long before we see him returning punts.
4. CB Antoine Winfield: The secondary as a whole did not play well, but most of it was not his fault. Winfield actually made one of the better plays of the game back there, tackling Brandon Tate after Madieu Williams dropped a sure interception on the play. The Patriots tended to throw away from Winfield, who did a good job in the slot in nickel duty on Wes Welker. A strong individual performance.
5. LB E.J. Henderson: Henderson didn't play his best game, as the Patriots wore down the Vikings' defense with the second-half run game. You have to wonder if he can hold up for an entire season while staying on the field for every defensive snap, as he did Sunday and has for most of the season.