Let's not analyze this too much. It was a very weird win for a very flawed team. But Viking wins are like orgasms; even if they're not great, they're still better than anything else that's going to happen to you that day.
Things to feel good about
We have Antoine Winfield on the Vikings. Yet another Viking win keyed by big plays from #26. He's an awesome player and he's been giving us spectacular performances like this since 2004. Tonight he had several great tackles (including a few stopping RBs for little to no gain), another signature sack-forced fumble-fumble recover, and of course the return of a blocked kick for a touchdown. I really will work on my wife to name any future daughter we have Winfield (we can call her Winnie--that's not bad, right?). I'm pretty sure the compromise will be naming any future cat Winfield. C'est la vie.
Bernard Berrian had a major impact on this game. 6 catches for 110 yards and a game-tying touchdown reception, and he drew the pass interference that set up the game-winning field goal. He still drops passes, but he also makes plays; tonight he made plays that directly helped the Vikings win the game. We have a receiver defenders have to account for.
Gus Frerotte is taking frequent shots downfield, and good things are happening as a result. In the second half, Frerotte hit Berrian for a 36 yard completion and a 33 yard touchdown, and another deep pass resulted in a 42 yard penalty on the Saints. For an offense that struggles to maintain drives, attempting to complete deep passes is key.
The Viking pass rush is good. Tonight the pass rush forced Drew Brees into several incompletions, and might have sacked him if Brees wasn't so adept and stepping forward away from pass rushers.
Cedric Griffin's pass defense looks perpetually awful; far too many passes are completed right in front of him. At this point I'm wondering if the Vikings wouldn't be better off moving another CB up the depth chart; Griffin has some talent (he's a good tackler and a hard hitter), but he's really struggling in coverage.
The coverage on punts and kicks has been terrible. There's a tendency to complain about the Viking coaches' decision to punt again to Reggie Bush. My bigger complaint is in the coverage; you can't punt away all the time, and you've got to be able to tackle returners. The Vikings have to find a way to competently cover punt and kick returns with the players they have on the roster.
Adrian Peterson can still have get-completely-smothered-and-make-little-to-no-impact games. That's worrisome, but I suppose even Barry Sanders in his prime could have those games.
Pass protection has been erratic at best; if Gus Frerotte weren't doing such a good job throwing the ball quickly, stepping up to avoid rushers, and making throws while getting hit, the Vikes would be taking sacks and getting roughed up bad. They've got to do a better job protecting a 37 year old gunner.
It's scary that the Vikings are so bad in the red zone, their best chance for a touchdown is to try a halfback pass to a tight end.
Over the long run, I'm worried about the linebacker corps without E.J. Henderson. Henderson was such a reliable playmaker, and I think his replacement(s) will miss some tackles, getting to positions just a step slow.
When the Saints had the ball with the score tied 27-27 and they had just completed a long pass, I thought "Even if next week's game is blacked out, I'm still not going to the game. Suck on that, Zygi!" And now I'm enjoying the bliss that comes immediately after a close Viking victory.
Gus Frerotte to Bernard Berrian: I like it.