The day started out with such promise. Last year the T-Wolves won two more games than the Vikings (playoffs included); this year I think they'll win 20 more games than the Vikings, and it's up to you to decide precisely what level of awful that is.
Much of the first half was very fulfilling: the Vikings on the road, controlling the clock, moving the football, avoiding mistakes. They were playing good football. Obviously, it didn't work out; I was happy to have the distraction of trick-or-treating. Let's assign some blame.
Madieu Williams. I think it would be reasonable to claim Williams cost the Vikes 8-14 points today. New England scored their first touchdown after Williams, in perfect position, not only failed to intercept the pass (which would have given the ball back to the Vikings with an early seven point lead), but also failed to knock it down, and somehow allowed the Patriot receiver to catch the ball. Later, it was Williams who should have been in position to make a tackle on Brandon Tate's long touchdown, but instead he got nowhere close to making the tackle. Two big plays for the Patriots were caused directly by Madieu Williams' bad play.
Brad Childress. That early challenge was one of the most perplexing I've seen: a catch in the middle of the field that came nowhere near touching the ground. The decision to go for it on fourth and goal at the end of the half was questionable (I was 50-50 on the decision, and 50-50 on the call). Normally, going for it on 4th and goal from the one is a good idea: there's a high chance the offense is going to punt quickly and you'll get the ball back with good field position. But at the end of the half, that's not the case: either you get zero, three, or seven points, then it's halftime and that's that. Furthermore, the Vikings looked really good with a conservative game plan: they ran the ball a ton in the first half (and successfully), throwing effectively in spots. If your game plan is conservative, ball control, don't make mistakes, don't you want that 10-7 halftime lead? I think so.
I'm fairly well conditioned to stop swearing at the TV during football games, because my kids are usually around. Still, I struggle not to yell "Idiot!" and "Stupid!" Today Brad Childress caused my three year old to lecture me: we shouldn't say that, daddy. Sure, son. You're right: we shouldn't call things stupid, and it's mean to call people idiots.
Run defense. This goes to the whole defense: BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged 6.6 yards per carry on his way to 112 yards and two touchdowns.
If Brett Favre is out, I'm not distraught about that (I'm distraught about some things, but not that). For one thing, if Favre plays all season and the Vikings don't make the playoffs, the franchise is set back. Tarvaris Jackson needs to show whether he sucks or whether he can be a quality starter (I know, I know: most of us think we know that answer, but he needs to show it finally, for Brad Childress's sake if for nobody else's). If he shows that during 2010 rather than 2011, the franchise can move further that much quicker.
But I'm also not giving up hope yet. In 2007, the Vikes started 3-6 but won five in a row to eke back into playoff contention (they blew a late home game clincher). In 2008, they started 3-4 but finished the regular season 7-2 to win the division. In 2009, they started out the season 10-1. The Brad Childress era Vikings can go on some productive binges, even with lousy QBs: I'm not putting it past the Vikings to finish 7-2 and make the playoffs (I'm also not putting it past them to end up 5-11, which is probably more likely). Tarvaris Jackson might mean a lot more running, a lot more rollouts, a lot more scrambling for first downs, a lot more conservative game-planning.
It's Arizona at home next.
PFT notes Favre is ready to play next week: what looked like it might have been a career-ending broken jaw evidently was a cut requiring stitches. Again: I think this team is capable of finishing 7-2, considering they have five more home games and road games at Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit. If they can win their home games, and get two road wins out of the year...probably too much to ask, I know.