In our lives, we all have situations where we could have taken the other path and greatly improved our circumstances. Asking that high school crush out on a date, taking that new job across the country, and investing in that stock tip your buddy turned you onto all serve as prime examples. This Sunday, the Vikings had multiple opportunities to change the final outcome of the game. For the purpose of brevity and my sanity Iíll stick to three.
It all started with the first play of the game. Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Great start by the special teams. Instead of turning this opportunity into a springboard and taking control of the game, the Vikings turned around and allowed an almost as impressive return to a shifty and speedy Devin Hester. The ensuing Chicago drive on a short field ended in a Bears touchdown.
Fast forward to the end of the second quarter. The Vikings managed to put pressure on a scrambling Jay Cutler. Jared Allen swooped in for the strip sack and Brian Robison went streaking down the sideline for a Vikings touchdown and a tie score. The Bears got the ball back and quickly drove down the field. Itís third down on the goal line. Cutler fades back inexplicably to pass. The ball is tipped and it lands right in Kevin Williamsí hands. Vikings ball. After the touchback Ponder begins the Vikings drive. He fades back and he finds Bears cornerback Tim Jennings instead of the lackadaisical Jerome Simpson. Pick 6. Bears go up 21-14, and another chance for the Vikings to take control of the game is wasted.
Even after the aforementioned miscues, the Vikings still had a chance to take control and even win this game. After trailing for the majority of the game, the Vikings started to put together some solid drives in the third and fourth quarters. Unfortunately, the Vikings settled for nothing but field goals from Blair Walsh, and failed to score any touchdowns in the second half. Leading by only six. The Vikings were left open to a last ditch drive by Jay Cutler and the Bears. Chicago jumped on the opportunity and put together a 66-yard drive that ended in a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds remaining. Bears win 31-30.
Every football game, like life, is full of missed opportunities. The key to success is taking advantage of these opportunities when they are presented to you, and minimizing the mistakes you make along the way. Sometimes you need to go for it on fourth down in the red zone, instead of settling for a field goal. Oftentimes this simple decision can be the difference between a victory and a loss. When the moment arises to take advantage of the other teamís miscues, you have to seize them. Life is fickle about when it is fruitful and when it is barren. If you fail to take the chances when they are put in front of you, you will find yourself in a worse position than where you started. In this case the Vikings are looking up at the entire NFC North division sitting at 0-2.
Look for the Vikings to rebound next week against the 0-2 Cleveland Browns in the 2013 home opener at Mall of America field.