If you haven’t seen Anthony Barr’s hit on Larry Donnell from Monday Night Football, you need to see it.
In what amounted to a human car wreck, the Vikings linebacker laid out Donnell while pursuing Giants running back Orleans Darkwa. Donnell, who was used as a blocker on the play, suffered a concussion, fell backward into Darkwa and immediately went to the turf.
The craziest part? The play happened so fast that Barr didn’t even realize what happened.
“A couple (teammates) mentioned it,” Barr said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Honestly, I didn’t realize I did that until after the game and it was brought to my attention. It happens, you know? That’s part of the game. . . . I knew what my job was and it was to spill the fullback out to my safety. I just read the draw pretty quickly and was able to beat him to the hole. I don’t know if he saw me. I kind of saw him at the last second and was able to get a nice hit on him. It was fortunate for us that we were able to stop the play and kind of kill the play. It’s unfortunate for them that he’s hurt. Hopefully he’ll be all right.”
That kind of defensive intensity has propelled the Vikings to a 4-0 start. A little over a month ago, Teddy Bridgewater dislocated his knee and tore his ACL in practice. Minnesota’s season was over before it started.
But then Sam Bradford happened. The Vikings sent multiple draft picks, including a 2017 first-rounder, to the Philadelphia Eagles for the former No. 1 overall pick.
“I was pretty excited, honestly,” Barr said. “I didn’t know much about Sam as a person. I know that he’s kind of bounced around the league a little bit and hasn’t been as successful as everyone expects the No. 1 pick to be and all that stuff. But what I didn’t know is that he’s a smart quarterback, he has a cannon and he can sling the rock. That just gave us more confidence. . . . We have confidence in him. I have confidence in him. He’s my locker mate now, so we’re getting a little closer and I’m learning a little bit about him. He’s an awesome guy, an awesome teammate. I think he’s just going to continue to get better with the more reps he gets.”
Barr and his teammates appreciate that the front office traded for a quarterback.
“We already knew we were capable of (playing well, but the front office) entrusted us and they showed some faith in us,” Barr said. “It’s our turn now to go return the favor and play hard and get some results. . . . This whole experience has brought us real close. We’re kind of just playing for each other, playing for the guys that can’t play, and it kind of shows on the field.”
Especially on defense. Minnesota is allowing just 12.5 points per game – the second-fewest in football. They’ve overwhelmed Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning and several talented receivers, including, yes, Odell Beckham Jr., who was limited to three catches for a career-low 23 yards Monday night.
Beckham reacted immaturely, just as he did in Week 3.
“We knew that he could be irritable,” Barr said. “We knew that certain things could set him off, but it wasn’t really in the game plan to try and poke at him and to try and get under his skin. Our plan was to get on him, play physical with him at the line, make him work for everything, don’t give him any easy ones. If you do that enough, it’s going to frustrate some guys, especially guys that talented. He expects to be open, he expects to get the rock, he expects to make plays. When you’re not doing that the way he’s usually doing it, it’s going to frustrate him.”
The Vikings host the Texans (3-1) this Sunday before a Week 6 bye. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.