Winfield’s Return Sparks Vikings Win
Minneapolis, MN (AHN) – Anyone that has ever thrown on the pads and played organized football has had the unfortunate task of doing pushups after dropping a pass or interception.
Usually they are done while getting yelled at by displeased coaches, but Sunday in the Metrodome a set of ten was greeted with cheers.
After dropping an interception in the second quarter during Sunday’s 30-10 win over Cincinnati, Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield hit the turf and did ten.
The mid-game workout was self-inflicted punishment for a play the cornerback has made 21 times in his career.
“It hit me right in the chest,” said Winfield
Winfield didn’t grab his 22nd interception, but the pushups that followed brought the Vikings fans to their feet as they showed appreciation for one of the leaders of Minnesota’s defense.
With the Metrodome rocking, the Bengals folded and were forced to punt on the drive. The Vikings used the momentum to score their first touchdown on the ensuing drive.
“You know he can only play the game one way. It’s not like you can put him out there and he can go half speed,” said Vikings coach Brad Childress.
The Vikings have missed Winfield’s leadership and attitude as he sat out the last six games with a foot injury. In his first game back, he made his presence felt early and often.
“Kind of like riding a bike,” Winfield said of getting back on the field. “I just want to go out there each week and make as many plays as possible.”
Winfield certainly made plays. He had a game-high nine solo tackles and forced a pivotal fumble late in the second quarter.
Winfield drilled Cincinnati’s Brian Leonard on a screen pass, put his helmet square on the ball and popped it loose.
The Vikings recovered and Ryan Longwell hit one of his three field goals as time expired in the half to take a 16-7 lead.
“I have pretty much perfected the art of tackling. I wrap up, and usually when I hit you, you go down,” Winfield said.
Winfield started his first game since week six against Baltimore and his return served as a much needed pick-me-up for a Vikings defense then was battered and bruised last week in Arizona.
“He’s unbelievable the way he comes up and fills the run,” said linebacker Chad Greenway. “We all know he is extremely capable and that’s why he is a Pro Bowler.”
Winfield’s return served as an emotional lift for a team in search of positives.
The Vikings were not only trying to bounce back from just their second loss, but also from the letdown of missing their most important players.
Linebacker E.J Henderson suffered a season-ending injuring last week against the Cardinals and Percy Harvin sat out Sunday with a migrane.
Quarterback Brett Favre said, “Not only is he good against the pass, but he is as valuable to our run stop defense as Kevin [Williams] and Pat [Williams]. He is outstanding.”
Winfield’s play helped Minnesota wrap up a playoff berth for the second straight year.
He said he felt great in his first game in two months and said he will continue to bring the same enthusiasm for the rest of the season.
“I just try to go out there and give the team energy,” said Winfield. “I’m really upset about the drop pick but will come back and get one next week.”
(All Headline News)