Vikes absolutely must win in Denver
...so they will lose, lose, lose
Couldn't you guess that Fred Smoot, who never never made a play in the two years he spent here, would pick off Tarvaris Jackson's first pass in Sunday's must-win game vs. the Redskins, to put a capital D on a perfectly dreadful night for the Purple.
For the third game (not) running the Vikes could not mount a rushing attack. Chiller and the brain trust have not figured out how to counter eight men in the box, although spreading out the defense with three wideouts in the second half seemed to accomplish something. Mostly, though, it doesn't appear that Jackson throws accurately enough to take advantage of the lighter pass coverage. He has regressed to the bad decisions and bad mechanics of the early season, and once again lacks the look of a starting NFL QB.
Then the defense came onto the field, and the stinking continued. Was there something in an earlier piece about the remarkable progress at cornerback made by Cedric Griffin, and the staunch play of rookie Marcus McCauley? Without being bothered much by any pass rush, mean old veteran QB Todd Collins, never known as more than a journeyman, washed both of their faces in new snow as he picked the Purple apart with apparent ease. (At one point Griffin nearly unscrewed his top from his bottom as he gave up the five-yard cushion on third down.) Of course, three turnovers will always tend to make the other QB look pretty skillful, too.
When the Vikes threatened to get back into the game, the refs piled on, ridiculously upholding the Washington challenge of the key Vikings fumble recovery because they supposedly had 12 men on the field. The ‘Skins had hurriedly spiked the ball to prevent a Vikings challenge, and caught one of them a step or two from getting off the field; that's a judgment call that the refs don't have to make, particularly under those circumstances. Allowing the wily Joe Gibbs to talk them into that one should earn that whole crew a demotion to the arena league where the fans sit close enough to pelt them with empty pint bottles. (Remember when Armen Terzian got what he deserved after the Drew Pearson Hail Mary reception?)
Fortunately, I had girded my loins (emotionally) with gloom, doom, and ill omen, so I avoided deep depression and slept peacefully after the bitter loss of the must-win game. Next week, the Vikes fly out to Denver where they must play in the nasty snow while barely able to catch their breath in the mountain air. The Broncos, meanwhile, will have played Monday night in San Diego, probably sustaining a defeat, and thus motivated to play hard against the Purple to ward off unemployment next season.
Since the Purple could well make the playoffs with a win, I suspect they will surely lose.