... but a damn close-run thing
Well fans, we got just about everything we wanted out of last Sunday’s Lambeau shootout, but not before some very bad moments passed. The Purple suffered many a direct hit and staggered through much of the third and fourth quarters of a game that might well have been over after their first possession in the second half.
My initial impression was that the Vikes pass rush disappeared at halftime, but when I reviewed at the tape that analysis didn’t hold up. (It’s amazing how much of a football game you miss when you are there in the stadium. The overall experience, however, is well worth it, especially at Lambeau. More on that in the weekend edition.)
In fact, the Minnesota defensive line put a fair amount of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but he simply started winging the ball often and everywhere, while scrambling, and the Vikes could not make him pay a price for it. Instead, their defensive backfield was caught with horrible gaps in coverage at least as often as Rodgers drilled a pass into a tight spot. My understanding of the cover two pass defense is that the safeties stay back and provide deep help for the conerbacks; it appeared more often that they stayed way deep while the corners broke off coverage after a few yards, giving up easy completions in the middle.
This was obvious when Greg Jennings caught the thirty-yarder that started the trouble in the third quarter. There was no one anywhere near him, at least twenty-five yards between the corner and the safety, an indication of a malfunctioning defensive secondary rather than any kind of brilliant offense. Rodgers got on a roll, the Purple started playing tight and breathing shallow, and for a while it seemed that this would be one of those horrible defensive meltdowns that scar the memory of their fans with any experience.
It was also an occasion to scar the eardrums worse than a rock concert put on by the loudest, most rotten heavy metal band in history. It is often said that the Hump in Minneapolis is the most deafening venue in the league, but the Cheeseheads raised a din that compares very favorably (?), and that in a place with no lid. I half expected the Vikes to cover their earholes and run weeping in pain for the exits. (The only time I ever heard anything louder at a sports event was also that afternoon, a flyover by four F-16s perfectly coordinated with the last note of the national anthem. That blew my mind far more thoroughly than any cheesy ‘60s rock music ever did.)
At this point last year’s version of the Purple would have quivered like jello and melted, but with Percy Harvin fielding kicks and Brett Favre firing lasers, the Vikes firmed right up and delivered the knockout counterpunch, enabling your correspondent to scamper up and secure a seat high atop the stadium at Curley’s Pub. Thus, the dastardly fourth quarter prohibition on beer was defeated, even as the Vikes completed the last two minutes of their historic victory over the Cheeseheads on TV.