Well fans, our season is still intact, but only just. Take away the last-minute sack and forced fumble by Kenechi Udeze, and the Purple faithful would be sitting even now in the bars and coffee shops, muttering recriminations and speculating as to who might become head coach for the ‘05 season. These last two victories have been damned close run things, too much so for anyone to be making plans for the playoffs.
Once again the Vikes D has been shredded by a good running back, and unable to stop the pass on third and long. They will not continue to win when they give up close to 400 yard, which puts way too much pressure on the offense.
On the other hand, their defense stiffened in the second half for two weeks in a row, and gave the offense some chances at the ball. Had Culpepper avoided the fourth quarter fumble, the game might have been put away without the need for last-second heroics which rely upon luck as much as anything else. The Purple defense, while looking perfectly awful for stretches, has not allowed a lot of points for the last two games. That is partly just luck, but also due to discernible improvement in play along the line and by the linebackers.
On offense, it is tempting to consider what the Vikes might accomplish with a Randy Moss who can run once again, although he, (as well as Kevin Williams and Jermaine Wiggins), proved on Sunday that speed isn't everything. Still, when opposing defenses once again have to honor Moss the Deep Threat, it will make it much easier for the Vikes to run, hold the ball, and score.
The Vikes have only two tough opponents left on the schedule, Seattle and the Packers, both home games. The Cheeseheads, however, must venture out to Philadelphia. They are not likely to win there, although they certainly looked tough Monday night against a credible opponent in the Rams. They also have to get by the Jaguars at Lambeau, and of course, the Vikes at the Hump Christmas Eve. Most likely, fans of the Purple will get on that occasion either a trip to the playoffs, or a lump of coal (bad cheese?) in their stockings from St. Nick.
The Vikes should be able to quell the Bears down in Soldiers Field next Sunday, but if the defense takes a half step back, instead of forward, they are perfectly capable of losing to anyone, anywhere.