Sunday, September 30, 2007
Coming off the ledge: Packers 23, Vikings 16
Here's what we have. The Vikings are really not that far away from being a good football team. Unfortunately, each week they are close to being a good football team, which gives them losses this season by 3, 3, and 7 points (for what it's worth--nothing--the Vikings have outscored their opponents this season).
So yes, the Vikings aren't far from being a good football team, and that means that unless the team tanks, they're not likely to get blown out very often this season. However, they are still short of being a good football team, and that means they'll likely continue to lose close games because of incompetent offense and inconsistent pass defense.
They're not awful--that's why they are competing in close games. But they're not good--that's why they keep losing.
I don't even mind giving in to the despair. Despair is comforting in its way. But I regret giving in to the hatred, the hatred of seeing the Packers succeeding. That way madness lies. That's the path of the Dark Side.
Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice
This team has a future. Adrian Peterson is, right now, one of the best running backs in the league. He's a hard runner, a quick runner, a great cutback runner, and a runner capable of breaking big plays (how does he have 10 carries for 108 yards in the first half, but only 2 carries in the second half? The Vikings should mix in Chester Taylor to keep Peterson fresh. But not in the fourth quarter of a close game. It's just so clear Peterson is so much better). Sidney Rice clearly had his best game as a pro: he was able to get separation and make tough catches.
We're not watching a team that isn't going anywhere--we're watching a team with talented young players developing. With young players like Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice on offense, and E. J. Henderson and Kevin Williams on defense, this team will be back in the playoffs soon.
Love for "Brett"
In separate conversations, my dad, sister, and brother told me I was lucky to be at the game so I didn't have to listen to the announcers.
Marino and Favre
I saw Dan Marino play live in 1994. He torched the Vikes for 431 yards in a 38-35 Viking victory. For what it's worth--nothing--I was more impressed seeing Marino live than I was seeing Favre live.
I'll admit: a palpable, physical feeling came over me when Favre first ran onto the field to warm up. A mixture of awe and disdain for the man who I have seen thousands of times in video and picture form, a man who has dominated my sports fan life as much as any Minnesota player.
But Jim Marshall started 270 straight games.
The Experience at the Dome
It was a good experience seeing a Packer-Viking game at the Dome. There were a lot of Packer fans there, which meant the stadium was always loud for one reason or another. It was almost like being at a high school game when there are fans for everybody there and the fans have a certain momentum of their own.
I was rather despondent walking out after defeat.
Let me add another difference between the Packer fanbase and the Viking fanbase. There are more of them. That's just true. A Packer diehard and a Viking diehard are very similar (we walked around the tailgaters before the game and saw people dressed up as honest to goodness Vikings). If you're comparing individual Packer and Viking fans, the biggest difference is the color of the clothing.
But (and I know this from experience, attending college and working in Wisconsin) support for the Packers in Wisconsin is widespread. Every family roots hard for the team, and there are just lots and lots of hardcore fans (and even many of the casual fans have a bit of hardcore in them). There aren't as many Viking fans--there are a lot of families and people in Minnesota that might follow the team but don't really care about it deeply. So it doesn't surprise me that Packer fans can have such a strong presense at a Viking game in Minnesota (the location helps--Wisconsin is right there, while Green Bay is a haul from here. The lack of tradition and local appeal for the Metrodome is another reason Minnesotans aren't usually clamoring to get into the stadium). I don't think individual Packer fans are fundamentally, essentially superior to Viking fans. But rooting for the Packers has seeped into the culture of Wisconsin in a way that rooting for the Vikings hasn't been a part of the culture of Minnesota, so Packer Nation is larger and deeper than Viking Nation.
By the way, downtown Minneapolis really doesn't want people to be able to get to 94, or to St. Paul.
Viking Offensive Line
The Vikings have blocked well for the run and blocked poorly for the pass much of the season.
After the Bye
Before the season, it appeared September was the easy stretch for the Vikes. Now we can look back and see that the Vikings' losses were to teams with a combined 9-3 record. It also appeared that the four games after the bye were going to be killers, but now that stretch includes a game at 1-3 Chicago, home against an Eagle team that has been having its struggles, and home for 1-3 San Diego. So you never know--it's possible the Vikings' schedule actually gets easier.
The Vikings haven't won a road game against the Bears since 2000. That in itself would be a nice nugget of joy for the season (but Brad Childress's record in the NFC North is now 2-6, so I guess we'll just have to hope).