The Vikings messed up a chance to put away Sunday’s game in Chicago by turning first-and-goal at the 6 into a field goal rather than a touchdown with under 5 minutes remaining.
Even that lead of 30-24 (rather than nine points), there were not gloomy thoughts here in the first tier suburb of Golden Valley – not once Jay Cutler and the Bears appeared to have no feel for their predicament as they started from the Chicago 34 with 3:15 remaining.
Cutler had looked very good a week earlier in beating Cincinnati, and for most of the first half on Sunday. And then he turned into the same whining, mistake-prone non-leader we saw first in Denver and more dramatically with the Bears.
Maybe I’ve been around too long and remember when the Bears would steal defeat from the jaws of victory against Bud Grant’s Purple, but the idea the Vikings’ big-effort game was going to get away didn’t seem feasible.
The clock was running, and Cutler was motioning in disgust, and then there was a holding penalty to push back the Bears to first-and-20 at their 39. The Bears’ offense didn’t seem to have a clue, and neither did the rookie NFL coach Marc Trestman.
And then came a short pass to the left sideline that the Vikings allowed Martellus Bennett to turn into a 23-yard gain to the 16. From there, Cutler made a magnificent throw to the left pylon, and Bennett used his 6-foot-6 frame to snatch it and all that could be said here in Golden Valley was:
“I’ll be diddly danged, this would never have happened with those lovable Chicago losers that Bud used to beat all the time … even with Sir Walter Payton in the lineup.’’
Apparently, there were other old-time Vikings followers not as confident when our heroes wound up with the field goal to make it 30-24 Vikings, rather than a touchdown to put away the season’s first victory.
My phone rang a few minutes after the 31-30 loss. It was a prominent Twin Cities businessman known internationally for his positive outlook on life.
“I have to go out, but I couldn’t leave the house until I called someone to complain,’’ he said. “That last play on the goal line … they miss a pass on second down, and then they power run Adrian Peterson into the entire defense and take the field goal.
“They are so scared that Ponder might make a mistake that they won’t roll him out, let him make a throw or run the ball and get a touchdown and win the game? It’s the most chicken-hearted thing I’ve seen in football in years.’’
And to be absolutely candid here, my friend Mr. Positive didn’t precisely say “chicken-hearted,’’ either.
This told me that those three plays near the Bears’ goal line are going to put Bill Musgrave in competition with Bob Schnelker as the Purple Faithful’s all-time favorite offensive coordinator.