Well fans, the Vikes have now won five in a row, an even more improbable stretch than the 2-5 beginning of the season. They are a good bet to finish the season 10-6 or even better. Yet, the victory over the Lions was not one that foretold a developing Purple juggernaut.
The Vikes played some pretty good defense, but clearly would have had serious problems with a team whose QB could deliver the ball to receivers who didn't drop half the passes thrown their way. The Lions muffed as many plays as the Vikes defense made. And it is disappointing that the Purple pass rush generated only one sack against a pass offense so obviously confused and stilted.
It is nice to see Brad Johnson beginning to develop a rapport with his receivers, particularly the speedy Koren Robinson; the Vikes are beginning to be a big-play offense once again, at least against Detroit. They will need many big plays, however, with such a horrible effort along the offensive line where the Vikes were eaten alive by the Lions' good front four.
Not a single Vikes offensive lineman avoided repeated embarrassment lying on his backside as his opposite number roamed freely in the Purple backfield blowing up pass and run plays alike. I have been critical of Michael Bennett's contributions this year, but the 80 or so yards he ground out this last Sunday were strictly his own heroic effort.
I find it quite odd that Mike Tice should have a problem with Brad Johnson's three-step drop and quick release when the offensive line can protect for such a scant moment or two; I also wonder about a coach who would belittle his punter who performed so heroically, getting one punt off that could easily have been blocked, making tackles and additional punts while hurt, and finally getting gooned for a fifteen yarder and a trip off the field on the cart. This behavior, taken with the Vikes disappointing withdrawal into an offensive shell at the end of the game raises questions as to whether the Purple resurgence is a credit to their coach or in spite of him.
But let it not be lost in all of this that the win over the Lions was the fifth in a row, on the road, on a day when they didn't play well, on an occasion rife with ill possibilities.
Next week they get the Rams in the Hump, a team which is not even a faint memory of the offensive powerhouse of their Super Bowl years. The Purple could easily drop this game, but shouldn't; with this shiny novelty of a solid defense, they shouldn't do worse than 9-7 for the year, what with the Rams, Steelers, Ravens and Bears coming up. If they could manage a little more improvement from various young players and a developing offense, they might well challenge the Bears for the division title in the last game of the season.