Well fans, the Purple got their groove back against the Giants, the stars aligned to put their second seed, bye-week, homefield advantage back in place, and all’s right with the world. Right? It is plain that Minnesota just tends to play badly away, on grass, and in the cold. But New Orleans has crapped out far worse than the Vikes this last month, so with any luck, they won’t be standing when the NFC crown is contested, and the Vikes will not have to play in any venue other than their cozy, noisy Hump Dome until the Super Bowl. We’re in it – yay!!!
Not so fast. Sunday, the Purple got off to a fast start against a team in major disarray. They caught all the breaks – recovering every fumble, including the first by Darius Reynaud early in the game which could have put the Giants right back in it – and avoiding the costly gaffes committed against the Panthers and Bears. Instead of letting a bad team hang around and get big ideas, they stomped the Giants early and dragged their carcass behind the horse, causing those gin blossoms on Tom Coughlin’s cheek bones to pulse like warning lights on an overheating appliance. What you like to see is all that gaudy production by Favre and his mates. As a consequence, the New York offense rarely took the field, and when that happens a team can’t score many points. Has the Childress/Bevell/Favre brain trust adjusted to what opposing defenses have been doing to them the past month? It would surely seem so based on the last three halves of football they have played.
Since the dogged insistence on pounding Adrian Peterson on the ground before anything else can happen was abandoned, the Vikes have been unstoppable. Peterson told the press that he was still seeing eight men in the box 98% of the time. Facing that, the offense has to pass, usually off the play-action. They did so, and Brad Childress said after Sunday’s game that the Vikes took what the Giants left, a remark of rare concision for him. It also speaks a clarity and simplicity of vision which he has wanted, at least in my opinion.
But we must temper our exuberance and remember that at just this time last week we were sunk deep in despair. The Vikes still have serious defensive issues that better teams will exploit. Jasper Brinkley, that big hitter, is liable to big misses, and wanders in pass coverage. Sunday proved that Benny Sapp is now superior as an every down player to a lame Antoine Winfield, scary for a defense weak against the pass. And it appears that rookie Jamarca Sanford may well replace Tyrell Johnson at safety, unless it would be Madieu Williams, who continues to falter.
The Vikes, worn down all across their roster by injuries ranging from nagging to catastrophic, will benefit from the bye-week, but how much is a good question. If they regain their November form I expect to see them in the Super Bowl. If they stumble through another off performance, it won’t matter what opponent comes to Minneapolis.
The really interesting possibility, however, is a rematch with the Cheeseheads at the Hump two weeks hence. I don’t know if I can stand it.