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Viking View (12/24/2008)
By John Edstrom

Can the Purple catch a break?

...or is the jinx on?

Well fans, the Vikes could not catch a break this week, nor could the Cheeseheads catch one for them. When the fumble down on the goal line by Falcons QB Matt Ryan slipped through the fingers of first Darren Sharper and then Cedric Griffin, to score seven points for the Falcons, it was obvious the outcome of that game was already written down by the Big Bookie.

Then on Monday night the Pack missed two late field goals to let that game slip away to the Bears, who were doing their best to lose all night long. This was the second win in two weeks that the Bears pulled out in overtime. Hopefully, their lucky streak will run out next Sunday at Houston, because at the same time, #1 rated Giants come to the Hump. At least they have already sewed up the first seed and may have players to rest.

There are key New York starters who are shot up besides Plaxico Burress, pro bowl defensive end Justin Tuck and 264 lb. running back Brandon Jacobs among them. It would be nice not to have to handle such a heavy load as that without Pat Williams in the lineup. On the other hand, the Vikes dealt with the Falcons’ premier rushing attack last Sunday with backups Fred Evans and newcomer Jimmy Kennedy. Despite being handed a big lead with all of those fumbles, Atlanta was not able to pound the ball and wound up with only 98 rushing yards, 3.1 per carry.

The Vikes, in fact, defeated the Falcons in every category except the all-important one of points scored. Tarvaris Jackson played another good game, good enough for Brad Childress to quit pussyfooting about who will start over center next week. It appeared that Jackson became a bit less decisive as pressure mounted in the fourth quarter, but by then the Falcons didn’t need to worry about Adrian Peterson or Chester Taylor. They mounted a heavy pass rush on Jackson who, unlike earlier in the season, avoided the costly interception and cooly threw the ball away when necessary, rather than up for grabs. His ability to break out of the pocket and run presents a whole other dimension for opposing defenses to worry about.

And his fumbling can be written off to inexperience, unlike the developing tendency of Adrian Peterson to lose track of the ball. Last Sunday he fumbled on what seemed routine plays, particularly on the last when he was merely bumped by Big McKinnie (admittedly no small thing in any other setting, a good reason for McKinnie to stay out of nightclubs, come to think of it).

It is scary to ponder that the fumbling has gotten into his head and become a negative, self-fulfilling obsession. Such odd mental quirks, strangely enough, can take over the minds of professional athletes who routinely survive collisions that would kill most of their spectators. Confidence is everything. We must hope that good coaching will instill it. Surely the Chiller will come up with the perfect quote from literature or philosophy, mysterious, yet entirely appropriate.

It is a pity that fans of the Purple must pin their hopes on either a Minnesota victory over the Giants next week, or for a Chicago defeat down in Houston. However, the Vikes have certainly earned some breaks after last week’s fluke bowl, and the Santa Claus bag of the Bears must surely empty out soon. Unless, that is, the Purple is jinxed for the season, always a possibility.

Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?

Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season.



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