Before today's game, what if I was to tell you that the Vikings would score 33 points, have multiple 2+ score leads, and at the end of the day, would be 6-0? Is that something you might be interested in? Before I get into the negatives, and there are plenty, let's just try to remind ourselves our team is 6-0 and probably a top 3 team in this league (in my opinion, only Indianapolis and New Orleans are better). This team is finding ways to win. There are a lot of supposedly good teams that are not. Philadelphia lost to Oakland. The Jets lost, at home, to the Bills. The Vikes' 4th quarter defense was terrible, but the vaunted Giants defense gave up 48. Yeah it was to the Saints, but the Ravens are not offensive slouches either, having scored 30 plus in 4 of their 6 games. Now, to the highlights, lowlights, and miscellaneous tidbits:
- Congrats MnDot. You continue to outdo yourselves. That was a truly terrible commute in and out of downtown today. I should have flown a weather balloon to the game.
- I thought the Vikings offense played very well for the most part against an allegedly good Ravens defense (although that might be more myth than fact). The gameplan and playcalling were pretty good. With one HUGE exception. Playing for the field goal at the end was borderline indefensible. I'm not sure what game Brad Childress was watching, but I think most folks saw a Vikings defense that was completely on its heels. It had already given up a "blackjack" (21) for the quarter. I don't think anyone, except apparently Chili, had any doubt about the Ravens getting into field goal range. He was bailed out by the Ravens' overly conservative play calling once in field goal range (more about this later) and their kicker choking.
- The defense was solid for 3 quarters. I told my wife the game was 98% over when Ryan Longwell made the score 30-17 with 6:01 left. You see, I was trying not to be a nattering nabob of negativity, but the doubting 2% of me had seen too many Nate Poole moments. I'm not sure I could be 100% confident even if the score was 59-0 (that's a completely unrealistic score though, right Tennessee? An aside - you always hear what a great coach Jeff Fisher is, but the Titans absolutely quit in that game). However, the defense had been playing well for the most part and, I thought, worst-case scenario, the Ravens score and there's only 2-3 minutes left. Much to Vikings fans' dismay, the Ravens scored twice, taking the lead faster than you can say "Wasswa Serwanga". Disturbingly, the defense has now been extremely shaky in the 4th quarter of all 3 HOME games. Once might be an accident, twice might be a coincidence, but three times is a trend. This defensive roster is littered with Pro Bowlers, so what gives? If Antoine Winfield is out for any significant amount of time, we might want to put those February travel plans on hold. And if I'm a team with a competent QB, I don't even bother running, other than maybe a token handoff here or there. Spread the Vikes out, maybe go no-huddle - just like some teams did 2-3 years ago with great success. I'm not sure I trust this defense to have an answer. The pass defense has been the biggest disappointment of the year so far, and it's not even close.
- I will never understand why coaches seem content with 40+ yard field goal attempts in game-ending situations. With 26 seconds left, the Ravens had the ball on the Vikes 29 yard line. Instead of making a real effort to get closer for a very young kicker, they ran the ball for 3 yards, then Flacco spikes with 2 seconds left. As mentioned above, the Vikings had not come close to stopping the Ravens all quarter long. If they get 5-10 more yards, I think the kid makes it. The Vikings beat Green Bay last year because Mike McCarthy strangely decided to play for a 52 yard FG even though he had plenty of time to get closer. Finally, as if wanting to help illustrate my point, Dick Jauron plays for a 47 yard field goal at the end of regulation against the Jets in a windy stadium today. Which the kicker predictably missed (the Bills ended up winning anyways). Speaking of that play...
- I saw it live on NFL Redzone. If you love NFL football - or just fantasy football - and do not have NFL Sunday Ticket, you MUST subscribe to Redzone if you are able to do so. I first discovered it a couple weeks ago, and within 15 minutes, I declared it to be not only the best TV channel of all time, but possibly mankind's greatest creation (which pretty much sums up everything you need to know about me). They show every touchdown and almost every crucial moment from every good game. They jump around between games at about the same time that I would. It's as if they know that men have remote control OCD and just take care of the obsessive-compulsive channel flipping for you. Absolutely brilliant (unless the creators have a vested interest in Sunday Ticket because I now have no need to purchase Sunday Ticket).
- I would not be upset if the Vikes rested some of our injured next week against Pittsburgh. I never want to see a loss, but if it has to happen, I would pick a non-conference game because it means nothing as far as tiebreakers go. If AD, Percy, and Antoine can go and not further injure themselves, by all means, suit 'em up. But if they are trying to gut it out, I would prefer to give them some time to get healthy, hopefully for the Green Bay game.
At the end of the day, the Vikes beat a good team to stay unbeaten. They are 6-0 and almost a cinch to make the playoffs. As a matter of fact, only one team has ever missed the playoffs after starting that way. Wait, uh-oh...