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Vikings were loaded for bear (09/17/2003)
By Patrick Marek

Patrick Marek (right)
Vendors were handing out free samples of Vanilla Pepsi and Old Spice deodorant outside of the Metrodome after the Vikings Sunday night victory over the Chicago Bears.

At first I joked that they must be trying to tell us something, but then I saw a Bears fan in a Brian Urlacher jersey chewing on his sample of deodorant. He either didn't like the Pepsi, or was trying to get the bad taste from Chicago's performance out of his mouth, but it sure did wonders for his breath.

I watched the game as a guest of Winona's "Meatcutter to the Stars" and "Vikings Insider" Bob Sula. Sula has seats under the Jumbo-Tron in the end zone where "the real Vikings fans" sit. Once your ears pop a few times and you get used to grown men wearing Helga braids, the seats offer a unique perceptive of the game. It's much easier, from the second deck, to see plays unfold, receivers executing their routes, abd running backs picking through holes on the offensive line.

The fans in the second deck can be a harsh, critical lot, but they bleed purple. They grumbled when Daunte fumbled away a sure scoring chance, and let loose with the first boos of the season when he appeared to ignore a streaking Kelly Campbell and scrambled for a five yard gain that failed to move the chains on third down. Much of the criticism was reserved for special teams, especially after our punter downed his own seven yard punt. Even Vikings who played well were not immune from criticism. I heard one guy describe Jimmy Kleinsasser as a "refrigerator with a head".

These fans have been around the Vikings long enough to know that no lead is safe, so there was a lot of nervousness in the Sula Section as the Purple and Gold let an obviously awful and overmatched Bears team hang around for most of the game. All of that anxiety disappeared, however, when the Vikes took over with the ball on their own seven yard line and held the ball for 9 minutes, 42 seconds and took 16 plays to drive 93 yards and put a stake through the Bear's heart with a touchdown pass to Kleinsasser.

I'm sure this drive looked impressive from the perspective of your television set, but from the second deck...it was downright poetic. The offensive line opened huge holes that even_____________(fill in the blank, I chose Billy ‘Boomer' Brown) could run through. Even though Moe Williams looked a step slow after his initial burst through the line, he still managed to gain over 100 yards. Onterrio Smith looked quicker than Williams, and seems to possess good instincts, but he also seemed one step away from breaking a big one. It's scary to think how many yards a healthy Michael Bennett ,or Robert Smith in his prime would have piled up.

And that, my friends,is the story of the game. The 2003 version of the offensive line has got to be one of the best in team history...and they have the potential to improve every week. One of the benefits of attending a Vikings game with Bobby Sula is the chance to talk insightful Vikings football for four hours in the car. Before the game we compared this year's line favorably to the 1998 "Dream Line" of Steusse, McDaniel, Christie, Dixon, and Stringer. Sunday night the offensive line obliterated the Bears defense. Pass protection was so good that Daunte could have set up a beach umbrella and lawn chair as he surveyed the field. He was almost too comfortable in the pocket. On the plays where he was sacked he held the ball for over four seconds. That's an eternity in terms of pass protection.

Every member of the 2003 line is over 300 pounds, in terrific shape, and has a nasty disposition. They tend to get stronger as the game goes on. As was proven on what may be defined as "The Drive" in Sunday night's game, this group has the ability to take over a game and let the air out of the football.

For the nervous fans in the second deck. That is a very good thing. 


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