Well fans, when have we last seen such a wonderful road victory to open the season? It might have been the first year Dennis Green came to town, but I don't remember the details. Unfortunately, it looked at first as though the legacy of the Green years might sink a very credible initial outing in dumb penalties and sloppy special teams play. How often is a missed field goal or PAT the difference in a game? If Washington had not missed the last second three-pointer, the Vikes would have been in overtime because of their muffed extra point early on.
This team played well enough to beat the ‘Skins going away, but penalties kept their defense on, and drove their offense off the field at crucial moments in the game. It also didn't help that Troy Williamson dropped two first downs as well as a long TD pass. One of those bonks would have been a tough catch; the other two were inexcusable. He will have to develop much better hands if he is not to drop out of the league as just another track runner.
Punt and kickoff coverage need to tighten up or this team will lose close games. Longwell's kickoffs seldom got as deep as the ten yard line, which gave the ‘Skins a chance at the FG to send the game to overtime. Punt coverage allowed the admittedly elusive Randle El a world to roam in. Had the Vikes not eked out the win, they would have closely resembled the same old bunch from the Tice regime, and I would be rerunning the same old rant.
Instead, the Childress era dawns brilliantly, and fans of the Purple can give thanks they were born west of the Mississippi, where our geezer of a QB is a brilliant game manager as opposed to the Cheeseheads,' who is simply washed-up.
In fact, Brad Johnson played a great game, protecting the ball well, threading the needle at times, and throwing it away when necessary. It helps that he gets very good protection. Much is made of the million $$$ left side of the Vikes offensive line and how it will certainly open up a great rushing attack, but Bryant McKinnie will make all-pro, if he does, mainly as a pass protector. He has the wing span of a California condor, and it is the rare pass rusher that escapes his reach.
This defense, while not looking yet like the second coming of the Purple People Eaters, held a good offense to 16 points, and had a few moments of brilliance. Darren Sharper's crusher which knocked the TD catch loose at the end of the first half might have been the play of the game. And the pass rush, while not managing to sack the wily old Brunell, applied pressure on a consistent basis, rarely giving up the long third down conversion so typical of the Purple defense in recent years.
I will not yet predict any gaudy post-season accomplishments for this team -- did you see the Bears demolish the Cheese on Sunday? -- but it appears that at the least there will be no reprise of the Steckel era, and very likely that the Vikes will compete for the Northern Division title.
It would not be overly optimistic to expect the Vikes to beat the Panthers next week at home, and then who knows what might happen when Chicago comes to town?