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Analog Jam (10/24/2012)
By Patrick Marek
Vikings Give the Cardinals a Poor Reception and Win 21-14

For fans in the Winona area, watching the Gophers and Vikings perform this weekend on television was not a pretty picture. Because of a perfect storm of programming putridity, the Gophers battle for Paul Bunyan’s Ax was broadcast on ESPN U (available only in analog), and because the Vikings played at the same time as the Packers, the game was banished to channel 9 (once again, an analog signal).

Like many of you, I purchased a large, flat panel TV, and signed up for the top cable HD package so that I could watch sports in general, and Vikings football in particular. However, once I experienced the crystal clear picture and perfect sound that comes with HD, the lower, analog stations on my TV dial ceased to exist…except for certain given Sundays. Let me make this perfectly clear. Watching a Vikings game on a flat screen TV with an analog signal is like seeing it through a funhouse mirror…without the fun. Even the cheerleaders looked awful!

Before you start thinking I’m blaming this on our local cable company, I have two things to say. It’s not their fault, and we were lucky to get to see the game at all. For reasons only the federal government can understand, Winona resides in the LaCrosse/Eau Claire DMI (Designated Market Area). That means that the government thinks we are in Wisconsin, and when the Packers and Vikings play at the same time, our cable system is required by law to carry the Packers. We at least were able to watch the Vikings game on Channel 9. Dish Network and Direct TV subscribers in the area were blacked out totally. Those folks had to bite the bullet and listen to Paul Allen’s call on the radio. They could do worse.

Fortunately, Adrian Peterson looks good even in analog. The man is a beast. He gets better every game, and the offensive line actually opened up a few holes for him, although they did a criminal job of protecting Christian Ponder in pass coverage. Peterson and Percy Harvin are two of the most punishing runners in the NFL. It is a rare play indeed when the first defender makes the tackle. Peterson racked up 153 yards and a touchdown against a tough Cardinals defense. His 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was a thing of brutal beauty, blasting through two Cardinal safeties and reaching his elbow over the goal line for the score.

On the other hand, Christian Ponder had one of his worst games as a pro.

When you consider that he only completed 8 passes for 58 yards with two interceptions and a rating of 35.5, it’s amazing that the Vikings won the game. Ponder needs to engage his brain when he is on the run, and occasionally throw the ball away. He also needs help from his offensive line and coaches. The play calling at the end of the first half was a perfect illustration of everything that’s wrong with the Vikings’ brain trust. With 50 seconds left in the half and in the shadow of their own goal posts, Ponder scrambled for two yards, then didn’t snap the ball until there were 19 seconds left. Then he completed a 6-yard pass to Harvin and called a timeout with 14 seconds left. On third and two Ponder scrambled and threw a horrible pass that was intercepted. Luckily Jay Feely missed the field goal, because I was ready to sprint to the Metrodome to exert vengeance.

So, the Vikings are 5-2 and we are complaining. The defensive line put constant pressure on Skelton, and tallied 7 sacks, but let LaRod Stephens-Howling rush for 104 yards. Blair Walsh added to his league-leading touchback total, but special teams stole a 103-yard Percy Harvin touchdown run with a costly penalty. It was a sloppy ugly game, but the Vikes got away with it, and ensured at least a tie for the division lead. Maybe if the government continues to think Winona is in Wisconsin, they can give us a cheese subsidy to have with our whine. 


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