Well fans, I think the Vikes got their gift of the season early when Carolina's John Fox called the fourth quarter trick play and gave them the ball back. What could he have been thinking? Maybe he holds some sort of grudge against Brad Johnson and figured that Julius Peppers might finally run him down and kill him, given a few more chances. Next time the Vikes face him, they might as well put one of those big round hay bales in place of Marcus Johnson, for all the luck he had slowing down Peppers. Seriously, it's hard to understand why Johnson wasn't given some help. If Brad Johnson keeps taking that kind of punishment, he won't last the season.
For all that this team is supposed to be focusing on fundamentals and not beating themselves, they managed to commit nine penalties for the second week in a row. The first one, a holding call on a run play down at the goal line on Artis Hicks probably cost the Vikes a TD and a chance to jump on the Panthers early. Instead, they hang around, figure out that the Vikes have a popgun offense, and go on to win the game if John Fox doesn't have the brain spasm.
The Panthers have a very good defense, but Washington gave up 27 points to the Cowboys last Sunday. This does not bode well for fans of the Purple who are used to seeing them put a lot of points up. At this juncture the running game doesn't merit enough respect to keep a good pass rush out of Brad Johnson's face. It will be very interesting to see how many points the Vikes can score against Urlacher and the Bears. I make it even odds they don't get ten. Then again, it's early in the season and the offensive linemen are still getting used to one another. Marcus Johnson is supposed to be a great athlete, and should improve. At least this year he is not lurching offsides every other play and that's progress.
You can't complain too bitterly about a defense that is holding the other guys to less than 20 points, but I saw a very disturbing number of missed tackles last Sunday. Maybe DeAngelo Williams is a rising star, but the Vikes whiffed on him way too often. Sloppy tackling, with the singular exception of Antoine Winfield, has been a hallmark of the Purple defense these past few years and this group looked typical Sunday.
Next week the Vikes will have all they can handle against the Bears excellent defense. Now that they finally have an effective QB, Rex Grossman, they are looking really scary. But so far they have faced only the Pack and the Lions, neither of whom is going to do much damage this year. The Vikes have to generate more rushing yards and provide better pass protection next Sunday, or they will hand the Bears another easy win. It's likely they have used up all their luck for one year.