Pain, heartbreak, unbelievable agony
...wait ‘til next year!
Well fans, this loss was snatched so unbelievably from such an impossible victory that it is hard to know how to feel about it rather than stunned. (Perhaps, like many, you drank a good deal of beer, which could have also addled your comprehension of the event.) So I went to the tape and watched the last three Vikes offensive plays, over and over again in slo mo, when they were in field goal range to win the game at the Saints 32 yard line.
First run straight up the middle: There is penetration outside of McKinnie which meets the ball carrier two yards in the Vikes backfield, as well as someone slipping through the guard/center gap into the backfield. No gain.
Second run off right tackle: Our whole offensive line is blown back off the line of scrimmage and the ball carrier is lucky not to lose yards.
Third down after the unbelievable 12 men in the huddle penalty, but let me digress. How can that happen with the championship of the NFC on the line and all you have to do is hold your ground to win? Here is the real tragedy of this game, and the place to look for a scapegoat. Without that penalty the Vikes can ram one more up the middle or try a little play fake for the two or three yards more Longwell needs for a lock. He doesn’t even need that to probably win the game, instead: We run Favre out right, who can hardly walk after the beating he has taken. Perhaps he has the needed yardage on the ground, but there are guys in position to stop him, and he’s got no fancy moves in his bag.
What he has got, is Bernard Berrian quartering just up ahead to his right towards the sideline at about the 30. A split second earlier Berrian was covered, but not looking back. However, as Favre nears the needed yardage, the man on Berrian abandons his coverage, # 87 turns back to his QB, and Favre inexplicably tosses a cabbage across his body into coverage down field to Rice, who has no chance to make the catch. It was a bad decision to throw to Rice, rather than run for what he could get. He still had fourth down to try one more time if he didn’t make it back into Longwell’s range.
That said, when the supporting cast (which has made you a nail for hammers all evening) now has three downs to pick up a couple yards, and instead stalls before making an incredibly boneheaded penalty, the goat is not wearing #4.
Also, it might be that our hero would have had some shred of better judgment left if he had not been assaulted by goons all day whose clear intent was to knock him out of the game by fair means or foul. Twice there were roughing penalties, both of which were flagrant. The second of these, at least, should have resulted in an ejection. Then, on the play which nearly knocked Favre out of the game, the guy coming around Loadholt on the right hit Favre low at least two counts after the ball was out.
Ordinarily this year pass rushers have been flagged for breathing hard in the direction of the QB. In this game, Saints rushers were allowed to come at Favre late all game long, when it was obvious that their strategy was to beat him up. And the rest of the officiating was strange, odd, and goofy throughout this whole game, did I mention? The NFL has to address the unacceptable unevenness – no – incompetence of its officiating.
This was an incredibly painful loss, even for the old-time fans of the Purple, used to the worst that Torquemada ever inflicted on those whose faith was misplaced.
Wait ‘til next year!