I was all set to write yet another negative article following a Vikings win. I was going to write how the score of some games definitely do not tell the story of the game… how a 30-12 score disguised another sub-par outing by the Vikings.
I was going to write about another terrible game by Frerotte; going 12-20 for 120 yards and a terrible interception. Going 4-13 on 3rd down. The defense letting yet another team drive methodically down the field against them, keeping the offense on the sideline.
I was going to write about how if you take away points off of turnovers (17 for the Vikings), and add in one of the missed field goals (the second missed field goal attempt was off a Frerotte interception), and take away the intentional safety; you get a 13-13 game.
Which then made me think… you know, maybe I shouldn\’t feel so bad about this win. Was it ugly? Yes. Did I root for T-Jack to come in and replace Frerotte each time he got banged up? Yes. But the offense had some successes. I was especially impressed by the few plays they ran on that short drive in the first quarter off the second turnover (good run by Taylor, nice end around by Berrian, Taylor finishes it off). They key to that sentence is \”few plays\” though.
Early in the game the Fox color commentator (as a side note, I didn\’t know who the color guy was at the start of the game, but I liked whoever it was. He was saying things that sounded… for lack of a better term, \”old school\”. Turns out it was John Lynch, fresh off of his retirement the previous Monday… he faded as the broadcast went on, but he was refreshing… as I was saying…) commented that the Vikings defense is the best in the league on 3rd and 6+ yards. I was shocked by that. Especially when the Jags offense started out 4 of 6 on 3rd down, and three of those were 7 yards or more, but they ended the game 2 of 8. Antoine Winfield started the game poorly with a few passes caught in front of him, but he turned it on late the game making key tackles and causing what was probably the most damaging turnover of the game. Starting the second half (yet another aside: when the game started and I heard the Vikings won the toss and deferred, I was pumped. I am a huge fan of deferring. I know conventional wisdom is to take the ball and try to get on the scoreboard first, but getting the ball at the start of the 2nd half can be a huge advantage. I know it\’s not the same, but when I played Tecmo football I always deferred…always… anyway) the Vikings came out of the locker room and had a lovely 5 and out. A nice pass to Shiancoe (what has happened to him the last few games, he\’s been a non-factor after finally learning to catch the ball) followed by a terrible incomplete pass to Rice, an unproductive rush by AP, and on 3rd and 10 a classic Childress \”kick-ass offense\” play… an underneath pass to Tahi. Now it\’s one thing to throw an underneath pass to a WR (which I still hate) and it\’s another thing to throw it underneath to AP (that would mean he\’d actually have to be in on third down); but to throw it underneath to Tahi… for Tahi to even be in on 3rd down is just ridiculous. Anyway, to make a short story even longer, Vikings punt, and Jags take over. Down 17-10, the Jags have the opportunity to drive down and tie the game, but on their second play Antoine Winfield allows Matt Jones to catch a 12 yard pass in front of him, but swings around and slaps the ball away. Huge play. The defense played fantastic from there on out and for once the Vikings had a game where the win wasn\’t in doubt until the final minutes.
One additional play of note. In the 4th quarter the Vikings intercepted a 4th down Garrard pass at the 4 yard line (I said out loud at the time, \”Sapp you idiot, you should have dropped it…better field position\”). After 3 running plays it was 4th and 7 at the 7 yard line, and as the Vikings lined up to punt I thought: \”hmmm… 30-10, 3 minutes left, this might be the right time to take the safety for field position purposes\”… then the Vikings take a timeout, come back on the field, and take the safety. I was pleasantly surprised by Chili making the right call for once.
So all in all, we should feel good about this win. As I write this the Packers are being destroyed by the Saints, which means the Vikings will play Chicago next Sunday night for sole possession of first place in the NFC Norris Division. I will be there in person, and look forward to it.