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Monday (The Vikings and 4th-and-1) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Vikings Updated: September 26, 2011 - 8:45 AM

Several key RandBall content contributors met up with us at Liquor Lyle's yesterday to celebrate Internet friendship and, ultimately, the Vikings' nightmarish descent into 0-3. Clarence Swamptown, Stu, Jon, Brandon, Rocket and Newbie made a fun first half better and a terrible second half/overtime into an amusing affair, at least. By the time it was all done, Owen Daniels had 243 yards receiving and five touchdowns [he didn't really; inside joke]. Also, the table was firmly split on the Vikings' 4th-and-1 decision in the fourth quarter -- both in foresight and with the benefit of hindsight.

Among those who were most vehement: Stu and John (and Brandon, to a lesser extent) thought the Vikings should have tried a field goal on the play, when they were up 20-17 in the fourth quarter. They thought going for it was positively Tice-ian. We were in the camp with Rocket. We liked the decision. We still like the decision. We're not 100 percent wild about the play call (handoff to Toby Gerhart), but we firmly believe it was still the right thing to do, even if it didn't work.

Listen: The Vikings were flailing through another second half. A field goal would have kept it a one-score game. A touchdown on that drive makes it a 10-point game. Did you have confidence in the Vikings holding down the Lions at 23-17? Really? It was an attempt to permanently change second-half momentum. It was a calculated risk that failed (as noted, the play call was not the best considering the strength of this team is hardly offensive line play. Running your $100 million man or doing a play-action bootleg run-pass option to the right with McNabb would have been potentially better choices). But the risk was justified based on the timing and the situation -- both on a game level and a season level.

To be fair, Marthaler and Stu were opposed to it even before it didn't work (as was a frantically texting Drew Magary). Jon and Drew kept reminding us of the points not on the board as the game went into overtime; we tried to remind them that every single thing about the game would have been different from that 4th-and-1 play forward, making their arguments irrelevant from that standpoint.

In any event, it made for a lively debate. It was far more interesting to focus on that microcosm of the Vikings' start than to dwell on the continued descent of our two biggest football teams in the state.

To that last notion, we ask: Where is bottom? This is pretty bad, but we're afraid we're not there yet.


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