He showed why on Sunday. Walker got hot, and he got the ball a lot more often than planned. "I'm not a complete idiot," said coach Jerry Burns. "When I saw what he was doing, I said, 'Keep him in there and keep feeding him the ball.' " With five minutes left in the first half, Walker already had the Vikings' best individual rushing total of the season, 68 yards.
Beyond that, he simply made Minnesota better. Early in the second quarter Walker lined up in the backfield with Alfred Anderson, a six-year veteran. With Green Bay looking toward Walker, Anderson ran up the middle for seven yards. On the next play, Kramer faked a handoff to Walker and then threw for 19 yards to wideout Hassan Jones. The Vikings scored a field goal on that series to cut the Packers' lead to 7-3. Minnesota got a touchdown on its next possession—Walker played three of the four downs in that series—and the Vikings never trailed again.
Minnesota's defense shut down Green Bay's No. 1-ranked offense in part because the Viking offense held the ball for a season-high 36 minutes and six seconds. "He's that main ingredient we've needed to take the heat off [wide receiver] Anthony Carter and [tight end] Steve Jordan, and to keep the defense off the field," says defensive tackle Keith Millard.
Lynn says the trade will only be a success if Walker leads the Vikings to a Super Bowl victory. Is that possible? With Walker, all is possible. Kramer found that out in the third quarter on Sunday. Walker was lined up as an I-formation tailback when the Packers suddenly shifted their defense, using two inside linebackers to fill the holes between guard and center. Kramer called an audible, changing from an inside run to a toss to Walker. Kramer looked back at Walker and almost froze. How will he know our audibles? thought Kramer. But because the terminology was familiar, Walker knew what to do. "I couldn't believe it," says Kramer. "He turned it into about eight yards."