Well fans, it was a shootout at the awful (as in defense) corral down in Arizona, and despite every indication in the second half, it was the Cardinals still standing when the smoke cleared. I have never seen a better playoff game, from the spectator’s standpoint, in a long career following the NFL. Even your humble Packer columnist in this publication, Mr. DeLano, confided that he was torn between elation at witnessing such an incredible spectacle, and gut-wrenching despair over the narrow and unbelievable Cheesehead loss.
I don’t think you will see a highlight film catch to top Greg Jennings one-handed grab of the Rodgers bullet in the end zone for twenty years, and Larry Fitzgerald’s was almost its equal for the Cards. Both QB’s threw like Harry Potter wizards benefiting from Hollywood special effects, and a variety of receivers made an easy routine of impossible catches. There probably is no team in today’s NFL which wouldn’t play awful defense in the face of such virtuosity.
Let there be no mistake, however; followers of the Purple have bragging rights for this season, having advanced at least one more round into the playoffs than the Pack. But let every individual fan examine his conscience to determine whether he really wanted to see the Vikes go up against the Pack one more time this season. No – the occasion would have been rife with too many awful possibilities, and a loss would have rendered it perfectly impossible to live with the Cheeseheads for decades. Better to bank small winnings than to brook such a risk.
Only a fool would now deny the certainty that Aaron Rodgers will pilot the Pack to many a winning season and no doubt Super Bowls in the future. In fact, I hope to see him finish his career here in Minnesota, like Brett Favre, if my health holds up. That might not happen if the Vikes do not begin to play more reliably on defense.
Next week the Vikes host the Cowboys and their wizened reptile of an owner, Jerry Jones, who should never wander near a tannery dealing in exotic leathers if he doesn’t want to wind up boots on the feet of some tinhorn Texas car dealer like Red McCombs. (Perhaps Jones could be kidnapped by Red Wing Shoe personnel before next Sunday’s noon kickoff?) Dallas is on a roll and should be tough, but if the Vikes get off to a quick start offensively and avoid the early mistakes and turnovers, they can win this game. Do not discount the domefield advantage. Key will be pass protection by Minnesota offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt. If they can blunt the outside rush of the Dallas linebackers and give Brett Favre time to throw, the Purple offense will score points. Tony Romo has been playing well, but is not experienced in the post season. Pressured early, he might feel the devil grasping his elbow.
Of course, the Vikes could turn in a performance like the one down in Glendale, which would save them another bout with Kurt Warner, is my guess. That might be for the best, but I’d still like to get the Cards up here at the Hump for the NFC championship game.