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Antoine Winfield key to Minnesota Vikings' success

Every once in a while, we write a post just to hand out some credit where credit is due. This is one of those posts. Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is one of those players.

Players who are 35 years old aren't supposed to be playing cornerback in the NFL, much less at a high level. Winfield has only been healthy enough to play in 11 games in the last two seasons, so the Vikings didn't know what they were going to get out of him. They have received perhaps the best play of Winfield's underrated career.

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"I would say wow -- capital W, capitol O, capital W ... wow," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams told the St. Paul Pioneer Press to describe Winfield's play this season. "It has a huge impact. That's as good as I've seen anyone play in a long, long time."

Winfield is the best tackling cornerback in football. He has 50 tackles in six games, with seven coming for a loss. It's not like his coverage skills have fallen off either. He has two interceptions and three passes defensed. ProFootballFocus says quarterbacks throwing at Winfield have a 61 passer rating.

Based on their statistics, Winfield has been the best overall cornerback in the league this year. (He's fourth just for his coverage, but his run-stopping skills put him over the top.)

When you are looking for reasons the Vikings have started off 4-2, it's easy to look to the stars. Adrian Peterson has come back strong. Percy Harvin is having his best season. Jared Allen is playing at a high level. Just don't overlook Winfield, who is the quiet leader of their defense.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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