The calendar has flipped to 2014 and the Vikings have the pedal to the metal as they advance toward the offseason to get ready for the next season. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to look back at the positives from the past year. Here’s a list of 10 highlights from 2013…
1. Significant Stadium Progress
Stadium legislation became official in 2012, but more significant progress was made throughout 2013. The Vikings, along with the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), and HKS Sports & Entertainment Group, unveiled the design of the new Vikings stadium in May. In November, the Vikings and the Wilf family committed an additional private contribution of up to $41.4 million for the new stadium, and a guaranteed maximum price for construction was announced. Most recently, the Vikings and the MSFA held a ceremonial groundbreaking event outside the Metrodome to mark the beginning of construction on the site that will host the new stadium. Also, the Vikings have now officially closed their tenure at Mall of America Field, doing so with an exciting 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions. During the game, the organization and its fans paid homage to the building they called home for 32 seasons with a special season ticket owner event on the Saturday night before the final game and a post-game ceremony for all fans on Sunday.
2. More Success in the Draft
Vikings GM Rick Spielman minces no words when talking about the importance the NFL draft plays in building a roster capable of long-term success. To that end, 2013 was another successful season for the Vikings. Following a 2012 draft that was arguably the best in franchise history, the Vikings in 2013 found a way to nab three picks in the first round and nine total. Seven of those nine players remain on the roster today, and one of them – receiver
3. Number Chasers
Several individuals on the Vikings roster pursued, tied and set records in 2013.
-- Cordarrelle Patterson led the NFL and set a Vikings single-season record with a kickoff return average of 32.4.
4. Finished 3-2-1 in Final 6 Games and Won Final 4 Home Games
With no division title or playoff appearance, the season didn’t go the way the Vikings hoped. But the team didn’t roll over and quit once their goals were out of reach. Instead, the team remained resilient and started laying groundwork for a better next season, finishing the 2013 campaign with three wins in its final five games and also closing down Mall of America Field with four consecutive wins. Even better, the effort and production needed to close on such a strong note was provided mostly by young players who will remain a core part of the team going forward. That’s good news for the immediate and long-term outlook of the Vikings.
5. Profound Community Impact
6. Memorable Trip to London Included Season’s First Victory
The Vikings were chosen to host a game in London as part of the NFL’s International Series in 2013, and the trip was a wide-sweeping success that brought the club its first win of the season. The Vikings spent nearly a week in London, beginning their trip with a community event at Wembley Stadium before heading out to Watford for a week of practice. The team moved into London two days before their game against the Steelers on Sunday and wrapped up the trip with an exciting 34-27 victory that came down to the final seconds and was played in front of a sold-out crowd that produced an electric atmosphere.
7. Found (and retained) Key Pieces in Free Agency
The Vikings utilized free agency in 2013 to maintain and supplement an already-talented roster. In March, the Vikings re-signed right tackle
8. Spectacular Special Teams (again)
The Vikings continue to boast one of the NFL’s top special teams groups under coordinator Mike Priefer. Since Priefer joined the team in 2011, the Vikings are first in kickoff return touchdowns with four and tied for first in return touchdowns with six. In 2013, the Vikings ranked No. 1 in the NFL in average starting field position after a kickoff (27.2 yardline), total kickoff return yardage (1,646) and punt return average, and they had the second-fewest drive starts after a kickoff inside the 20 (eight). Patterson ranked No. 1 in kickoff return average and kickoff return touchdowns and Sherels ranked No. 2 in punt return average.
In February of 2013, Adrian Peterson was named the NFL’s 2012 MVP following the second-best rushing season in history, an effort that came just a year after he had reconstructive knee surgery and many were questioning whether he’d ever be the same. He came back better than ever in 2012 and, despite playing through injury, showed no signs of slowing down in 2013. In just 14 games played and with the third-fewest single-season carries of his career, Peterson still finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,266 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and tied for fourth with 10 rushing touchdowns.
10. Young Players Stepped Up
In 2013, injuries ravaged the Vikings defense and impacted the offense, as well. While injuries adversely impact a team’s chances of performing at the optimum level, they also present opportunities for other players. In 2013, some of those other players stepped up, and many of them are youngsters.