A Packers fan wrote us an e-mail last night. It began thusly:
I read your commentary about the "total destruction of the Packers", and how it was a great day for football on Saturday. After suffering through a year of the StarTribune's leftist (socialist) articles endorsing our re-elected President, now I can read trash about the Packers, who, I believe, have won 4 more super bowls than the Vikings.
Classic Packers fan.
That said, the letter writer should know we are equal opportunity scab-pickers. We don't just tear the Packers apart when they lose. We also are willing to painfully dissect moments of purple infamy
And there are few moments as painful as the NFC title game after the 1998 season. Also, there are few phrases as painful as "take a knee." For Vikings fans, perhaps misery loves company -- and maybe there is a hope that the torch of that burning phrase has been passed on to the Broncos, who did nearly the same thing the Vikings did 14 years ago in this past weekend's AFC playoffs -- right down to defending the move afterwards.
In case you have forgotten, here is the painful history:
The Falcons tied the Vikings 27-27 with 49 seconds left in regulation in the NFC title game. Minnesota, unlike Denver, ran two offensive plays, setting up 3rd-and-3 from their own 27 with 30 seconds to play. They had two timeouts. The Falcons had zero timeouts. They had the highest-scoring offense in NFL history at the time. And Denny Green ordered his QB, Randall Cunningham, to take a knee and go to overtime. The Vikings actually won the toss and had two OT possessions that ended fruitlessly before the Falcons scored. Afterward, Denny said this:
"When you're down to 30 seconds then you need to take two good downs and if you don't have a first down by then, then you better go and move the other way.
John Fox apparently agrees. The situation in Denver was quite similar: After Baltimore scored a stunning late TD to tie the game, Denver had 31 seconds, two timeouts and the ball at its own 20. It also had a prolific QB and the second-highest scoring team in the league. The Broncos were, like the Vikings, at home and the No. 1 seed in the conference. It was the divisional round instead of the title game round. The OT rules have also changed. But everything else was eerily familiar, right down to John Fox's comments Monday:
"I'd do it again 10 times if it presented itself in that situation. ... You watch a (70)-yard bomb go over your head, there's a certain amount of shock value. A little bit like a prize fighter who gets a right cross on the chin at the end of a round, you're looking to get out of the round."
So that's that. Sorry for this trip down memory lane, but we had to make sure our Packers fan letter writer was convinced of our strict adherence to spreading things out equally in the true Socialist spirit we apparently uphold here.