Well fans, at least this year the Vikes will not be leading us down the primrose path of unreasonable expectations. They did not look anything like a Super Bowl contender Monday night, nor even a sure bet to take the division title.
It is, of course, way too early to commit the sin of despair as the Vikes could easily have won Monday night, given a few breaks. Things might have been different without Culpepper's fumble, bad penalties called against Antoine Winfield and Matt Birk which allowed the Eagles to keep the ball on each of their first two TD drives, the missed call on the Owens TD catch (where was the Vikes coach in the press box?), the missed field goal, etc.
Still, it never really felt like the Purple had a chance to pull back ahead in the second half for two main reasons; their offensive and defensive lines. Mike Rosenthal was having a big problem handling Jevon Kearse before he got hurt, and Adam Haayer whiffed on him more often than not. Missing Rosenthal and Jim Kleinsasser, the rushing attack stalled and, that lacking, the Eagles launched an all out pass rush which eventually swamped Culpepper and the passing game.
On defense, the Vikes simply did not mount enough pass rush to have any chance to beat a QB as good as Donovan McNabb. There was no push up the middle at all and it is fair to wonder when Hovan is going to show up, and even what it was that had everyone so excited about Kevin Williams last year. Without an inside rush the Vikes were forced to blitz a lot, were continually burned by the quick slant routes, and never got near McNabb anyhow.
Without a better pass rush, it is going to be a long season for the Purple Horde, unpleasant, and all too familiar. With both Kleinsasser and Rosenthal gone from the right side of the Vikes offense, at least Monday night Culpepper was once again forced to bail out of the pocket into the fog of war. One would rather he didn't have to constantly improvise.
Vikes fans were looking forward to the Bears at the Hump as a breather on the way to a 3-0 record going into the bye week. Now, especially with the way they ran the ball right down the throat of the Packer defense, a laugher against Chicago this Sunday is not a reasonable expectation.