Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Notes from Monday Night at Thunderdome

I kid you not: the Bear defense opened the game in a 4-5 defense. The next play they were in a 4-4, and the next play they were in a 5-3. It was like watching small high school football. The Vikings really had a chance to exploit Chicago in the pass, with some mixed results (three INTs and a few sacks, but a career high 249 yards passing for Tarvaris Jackson).

The Metrodome crowd was really into it. There were more Bears fans than I thought there'd be (and they were quite spirited, in a fun way), but it was really fun in the fourth quarter when everybody in the dome was standing and waving and yelling and cheering. Great atmosphere for an important football game against a big rival.

Did Lovie Smith fail to give his team one last chance to win? The Vikings had 1st and 10 with 2:00 left, but couldn't actually run out the clock kneeling down. The Bears had one timeout left. After the Vikings' third kneel-down to make it fourth down, there were more than 10 seconds on the clock. The Bears had another timeout, but they simply let the clock run out. If they called a timeout, they could have either went for an all-out punt block, or they could have let Devin Hester have one more chance at a game breaking play. A total brain-freeze on the Bears' coaches, I think.

If you're going to squib kick to avoid a great kick returner, why squib it to that great returner? Still, the Vikes did a good job containing Hester (their entire starting secondary was in on kickoff coverage). Hester, though, is so good as a returner that he plays by his own rules (rightly so). He fields punts nobody else would, pauses to look for openings when everybody else would be trying to gain any yards, and cuts back and around with abandon. A lot of times, the Vikings simply got lucky he didn't do more.

Kyle Orton is inept--and the Bear running backs are worse.

A solid pass rush from the Vikings in the second half really helped mess up an already horrid Bear offense.

Here's what I say about 100 times a game: WHY DON'T THE VIKINGS CALL MORE SCREEN PASSES?! With good RBs, good downfield blocking WRs, and good OL, the Vikings should be able to pick up easy yards with screens. They could also get Adrian Peterson in space.

Robert Ferguson's long catch and run was a lot of fun.

Before the game, we saw some Viking players walking into the Metrodome, including Pat Williams (a mammoth of a man) and Adrian Peterson. Peterson is a smooth character. He also gave the cheering fans a two-finger wave. A meaningless greeting, a sign for "victory," or a peace sign? Is there another pacifist Viking? I'm guessing meaningless greeting.

Sal Paolantonio, Steve Young, and Emmitt Smith were on the sidelines before the game, and Adrian Peterson ran over to talk to Emmitt Smith. The young RB from Texas hugged the great Cowboy RB and the two beamed giant smiles as they chatted for quite a while. Then Peterson was going to run back to warmups--completely ignoring Steve Young. I almost thought Steve Young felt a little bad, thinking "What about me? Don't you know you I am?" But Young got his attention before he left, and Peterson shook hands and chatted briefly with Young and Paolantonio. Compared to Emmitt Smith, Steve Young means nothing to Adrian Peterson.

Yeah, the Bear fans were lively and energetic, and interacted with Viking fans with good spirits. One guy wearing a Robbie Gould jersey (why?) held up a sign to us that read "#29>#28" and something or other about how Bear Adrian Peterson is better than Viking Adrian Peterson. He was just smiling knowing how stupid it really was, and we all just sort of laughed. There were a lot of smiling, laughing interactions between fans of the two teams. I sort of like Bear fans.

My back row section is getting rowdier and rowdier. I never drink during Viking games (I love watching the Vikings--I want to fully appreciate and enjoy the games, not dull my senses during the games); others don't feel the same way. In the back row, fans find a lot of things to bang on: a metal fence, the Coca-Cola ad, the metal ramp behind us. Fun times up in the nosebleeds. I love having the back row, actually--it's very pleasant not having anybody behind you during a game, and the crowd up there is pretty high energy.

Cheese curds: my one weakness. Actually, I have many, many weaknesses--I don't know why I should label fat-fried cheese my singular weakness.

Right now, I'm pretty happy to be a Viking season ticket holder. I wasn't sure if it would be a one-year experiment or not (I only got the tickets in late August to avoid blackouts), but I'm strongly leaning toward renewing season tickets and going to every home game I ever can. Attending the games is just too much fun (and in my seats, relatively cheap).


  1. Right now, I'm pretty happy to be a Viking season ticket holder. I wasn't sure if it would be a one-year experiment or not (I only got the tickets in late August to avoid blackouts), but I'm strongly leaning toward renewing season tickets and going to every home game I ever can. Attending the games is just too much fun (and in my seats, relatively cheap).

    So ironic; that during my first season as a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder I feel the same way and we're at about the same achievement levels team wise. We also both have nosebleeds seats.

    Renew your seats and hang onto the PSL; sell them if u don't wanna go.

  2. Anonymous1:08 PM

    Screen passes are much less effective when the defense is completely keyed on the running back who will be catching the screen pass. Screen passes are ideal for a team with a talented rb, but talented wrs and a qb as well, who must be respected.

    Also, Peterson is not yet even mediocre at blocking or blitz recognition (the best advice Smith gave Peterson in their post game interview was for Peterson to become a good blocker, so as to make it easier for him to remain on the field in obvious passing situations), and screen passes are much more deceptive when the rb is a credible pass blocker. Thankfully, all indicatoprs are that Peterson really wants to become a complete player, so he'll probably be at least average at this part of the game by this time next year.

    The Vikings simply must get more out of their qb and receivers when a defense comes out in a scheme like the Bears did. Oh, well, at least they were better than was the case when the Eagles did something very similar, and thank goodness Ted Cottrell coaches the Chargers' defense!

  3. Not vikings related, but today Bill Simmons posted his annual NBA trade value column.

    #1 - LeBron
    #2 - Dwight Howard

    And he finished by saying that those two guys are the most untradable players he's seen since he started the column seven years ago, trumping 01 Shaq and 03 Duncan. Interesting read.

  4. Anonymous3:53 PM

    I agree with the screen pass comment. I also think that Childress needs to be careful to not out think himself. He has done a good job over that las t few games (not that you need to be a genius to give the ball to AD) but last night it looked like he tried to out coach Lovie, which is possible, but the Vikes need more talent at WR (and QB) to accomplish what he wanted to do.

  5. Anonymous5:38 PM

    I have to disagree with the notion that Childress may have unwisely tried to out-coach Lovie Smith, given the talent Childress has at qb and receiver. If teams are going to scheme like the Bears did, the Vikings must try to let Tavaris Jackson makes some plays, otherwise Peterson is going to get bludgeoned. The paradox is that unless Jackson makes some plays, Peterson cannot truly excel, nor is he likely to stay healthy. If defenses are going to do what the Bears did, Jackson has to be asked to play like an NFL quarterback.

  6. Anonymous12:03 PM

    It is hard to disagree with you. I think Childress went to the pass to quicly/often (take your pick) We know the Bears rush-D is bad, so why not pound down their throats instead of trying to make it look like you are running (ie - sending AP up the middle, only running on first down...) To his credit, he seemed to make some adjustments at the half, something he has not shown the ability to do in the past. (on a side note, the drive right before the half was great, that was big to get points and then the ball back)