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History repeats - Vikes find a way to lose (12/08/2004)
By John Edstrom

Well fans, didn't the Central Division of the NFC just cover itself with glory on Sunday? It is hard to say whether the Purple or the Cheeseheads laid the more stinky rotten egg -- the Vikes were at least competitive, but then Chicago, unlike the Eagles, is a bottom feeder. Based on vital signs exhibited in these outings, it could be that neither of these outfits survives until the playoffs.

As I feared, the Vikes took a half-step backwards on defense against the Bears, particularly with Antoine Winfield limping off the field on what is probably going to be a high ankle strain that will keep him sidelined or hobbled for the rest of the season. At a cornerback position, he is the team's lead tackler, as well as its best pass defender. His loss is a double blow to a defense that would be marginal even if not riddled with injuries.

And if it was hard to watch this team play before, imagine the rest of the season after the Vikes gave back the TD just before the half. They could produce a training film on sloppy tackling, never defending the long third down, and inept linebacking.

Alas, it is the character of this team to find ways to lose, something we all suspected after the Arizona game last season. Just before Morton Anderson missed the field goal, I said, he's going to miss it, and he did. I just knew.

For a little while Sunday, I had a very strange experience. I was watching upstairs when Culpepper threw the first interception, but went downstairs during the break, where my wife had the game on. (She doesn't like to watch with me, because she says I yell and swear.) There, Purple fortunes changed dramatically, as Raonall Smith strung a sweep out for a big loss, and on the first play after the Vikes got the ball back, Mewelde Moore ran the ball for a long gain!

"Oh joy," said I, and then, "What are Moore and Smith doing in the game? They're both hurt." Fran had somehow manipulated the Tivo box into rerunning the Texans/Vikes game from earlier in the season and we were reliving happier days. (The Texan home uniforms are black like the Bears'.) Looking back, I should have left it on. Local doctors are going to have to start forbidding elderly patients or those with high blood pressure from watching the Purple, except by recording after the outcome is known.

Two things. I don't know how this team will stop anyone without Winfield, even though the defensive line seems to be playing a little better. Second, this offense can't be counted upon to score much more than 20 points without Moss at full speed, which he certainly wasn't at on Sunday. In his present shape, I don't see the sense in putting him on the field.

Under these conditions, I don't think it's an even bet that the Vikes will win more than one game on out. 


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