I had the strangest dreams the night after the Vikings ruined the Packers party dedicating the newly renovated Lambeau Field with a 30-25 victory. The first dream featured Brett Favre standing next to huge basket of footballs. He was throwing pass after pass at the broadside of a barn...and missing every time.
Then the Vikings were back in the Super Bowl, and actually winning. They had Kansas City by a field goal with under a minute left in the game, and Daunte Culpepper was scrambling for pay dirt. Nobody was between him and the end zone. The Vikes first Super Bowl victory was at hand, when a feather from a robin flying overhead floats down and lands on the football. Daunte fumbles! A Kansas City defensive back scoops up the ball and takes it all the way to the house. Vikings lose Super Bowl number five!
Talk about waking up in a cold sweat. Sunday's victory against the Packers wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Vikings dominated for three out of the four quarters on the Packers home turf. It should have been a dream come true. However, the Vikes displayed some troubling symptoms for a team that has playoff aspirations.
First the good news. We finally have defensive backs who can actually catch the ball. How many times over the past few seasons has the Vikings stone-handed secondary dropped sure interceptions, and then gotten burned for a TD on the very next play? Granted Brett Favre was wild as a March Hare on Sunday (he almost killed Donald Driver with a high pass over the middle), but the Vikings secondary was in the right place at the right time, and came up with four interceptions. Best of all, they played a tight, aggressive coverage that kept the Packers receivers off stride.
Daunte Culpepper made some nice reads and great throws, especially to Randy Moss,, who looks like he is on his way to a monster year. The offensive line did a good job of keeping the Packers pass rush at bay, and the Vikings running backs took care of the ball.
However, recording only one sack (although Chris Hovan claimed that they made Favre feel claustrophobic), the special teams breakdown during the onside kick, and Culpepper's disturbing tendency to fumble in the open field gave this game a sense of deja vu all over again.
Thankfully this year's edition of the Packers is truly a wretched team, and Brett Favre is finally starting to show his years. I'm reminded of the days when Bart Starr would visit Metropolitan Stadium when his glory years were behind him and would regularly get beat up by the Purple People Eaters. I predict that Favre will show just enough brilliance to keep his job, and just enough rust to keep the Packers out of the playoffs. The loss of most of what was already a lackluster receiving corps won't help matters.
As for the Vikings, they are a young team who have already proven that they can be taught. Special teams should improve, and the front four should jell around Chris Hovan and Rookie Kevin Williams. Whether Daunte can learn not to put the ball on the ground is anyone's guess. Don't forget...he has baby hands, and things are only going to get worse when he plays in bad weather. Once again, I'm e-mailing Mike Tice. Get the man some gloves!
Imagine the Isotoner endorsements.