If the Minnesota Vikings keep trying to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory our local watering holes might have to change their in-game drink specials to Maalox margaritas and Pepto Bismol on the rocks.
During the CBS broadcast of Sunday’s needlessly close 33-31 nailbiter Vikings victory, Greg Gumbel called Brad Childress an “Offensive Guru.” It was the best joke he cracked all afternoon. Thousands of Viking fans could substitute a much more appropriate word for Guru, most of which are not fit to be printed in this family newspaper.
If someone handed Childress the keys to a brand new Maserati, he’d fit it with a trailer hitch and use it to haul his boat. He is so conservative that he makes Rush Limbaugh look like a PETA volunteer. For the first two drives of the first half it looked like the Vikings were finally making the Childress dream of a “kick butt” west coast offense a reality. Play action passes, effective runs, and surgeon like slant patterns produced two lightning scores. Unfortunately after the lightning the Vikes took cover and played like they were afraid to get wet. The “kick butt” offense transformed into the “kick Adrian Peterson’s butt offense,” with one predictable run after another telegraphed into the teeth of the stacked Raven’s defense. Good teams don’t crawl in a hole when they get an advantage, they step on their opponents’ throat.
Thank goodness Brett Favre is the Vikings quarterback. He is the only man alive who can call Brad “Chilly” and have guts enough to audible out of some of the calls that Childress stole out of the Woody Hayes play book. When he wasn’t forced into long handoffs to Peterson or Chester Taylor, Favre played like a Purple and Gold dream. He kept his head when our defense was opening the floodgates, and played the game with cool precision and creativity. His 58 yard pass to Sidney Rice with the game on the line in the fourth quarter was supposed to be a run play. What a surprise! He changed it in the huddle and then made the adjustment when Rice took the route deep. You can say what you want about Adrian Peterson. He is a special back and a magnificent offensive weapon, but this is Brett Favre’s team.
Speaking of running plays, the Vikings play calling in their last few offensive moments of the game are a perfect illustration of why Brad Childress may have the worst “game management” skills in the NFL. After the Favre to Rice connection and two Adrian Peterson plunges into the heart of the Ravens defense, the Vikings had a third and nine from the Baltimore 17 with 2:30 left in the game and the Ravens out of timeouts. You’ve got one of the greatest clutch passers in the history of the game, so you go for the first down (or touchdown) right? Then we drain the clock and kick a field goal with two seconds left. That’s what aggressive teams that play to win do. The Vikings, playing “not to lose,” ran Peterson up the gut for a three yard gain, kicked a field goal, and watched the Ravens torch our defense with another long drive. Sure Baltimore missed the field goal, but with Percy Harvin’s shoulder injury and the Vikings defense suddenly looking very ordinary, how long will this team’s lucky streak last?