Well fans, here we are in the playoffs, and no one need carp at our means of access. Did Tarvaris Jackson toss an interception into the end zone? Did Adrian Peterson cough up another fumble? Did the Purple run defense come apart like some cheap gimcrack left under the Christmas tree? The answer is yes, but we won the game anyhow. The tenth win resides on the left side of the 2008 record, and the Vikes are seed #3 in the NFL playoffs, however absurdly. This year Minnesota has improved into a team that sometimes wins close games and does not always collapse in the clutch. No one I know has gotten used to it. All suspect some massive disaster just when hopes should blossom, despite the reluctance of anyone to hope for much.
So what did we see Sunday, in a game that could easily have resulted in defeat at the hands of the second team NY Giants? First of all, without Pat Williams at nose tackle, the Vikes’ vaunted run defense springs a 330 – let’s be honest – 360-pound leak. And without Ray Edwards at right end, there is no longer any need for opponents to pass the Vikes silly. Many wondered why the Giants didn’t simply run the ball into the end zone in the fourth quarter rather than throw the ball up to the iffy fade route over Antoine Winfield in the end zone. A TD on the ground over the Vikes gaping wound of a left side would have ended the game. Instead the Giants settled for three, and succumbed eventually to the panting ardor of the home team, not to mention their second string cornerback’s untimely pratfall. Eventually the rules will prevent the home crowd from tossing fruit rinds and banana peels onto the field, not just the empty brandy pint.
Despite the joy released and unconfined by the Purple’s advancement to the playoffs after this long wait, what flies buzz nevertheless in the ointment? Obviously, Adrian Peterson might fumble the ball at any moment. Tarvaris Jackson, although much steadier than in September, is no wily vet, likely to overlook the open receiver as well as the defender poised to intercept him, even in the end zone. He does not see the field before him as the broad, familiar kingdom. And there are wide receivers liable at any moment to forget where they are and what they are doing, stumbling into illegal motion just in time to kill off the crucial drive.
Next week, can the Vikes prevail at home against the Eagles, who used up a lifetime worth of lucky breaks and good fortune against the Cowboys last Sunday? It is an open question, and the Purple has never fared well against Philadelphia. Yet the Vikes will have Pat Williams back from injury, and Ray Edwards should be ready to go. I’d pick them by six, barring the many turnovers and special teams gaffes.
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.