The Vikings season ended a week ago, but the NFL playoffs are too woven into our collective sports DNA to dismiss. As such, those who bleed purple and couldn't look away from the divisional round this past weekend were reduced to: 1) hoping merely to see competitive and entertaining games; 2) making a date with schadenfreude and hoping to derive pleasure from the misery of others.
And, well, Saturday couldn't have gone any better based on that limited script. Here's why:
Ravens' improbable victory at Denver
The Ravens' thrilling victory over the Broncos was one of the more entertaining games you will ever watch without a rooting interest in either side. What's more, it might have helped cleanse our collective palate of three agonizing Vikings NFC title game losses.
1998? Denver now inherits the Curse of "Take a Knee" after John Fox did the same thing Denny Green did 14 years ago against the Falcons. Despite having the second-most-prolific scoring offense in the NFL this season, Fox ordered Peyton Manning to sit on the ball instead of try for the winning score in the waning moments of regulation.
2000? Denver's coverage that led to Baltimore's game-tying score was so terrible that it immediately brought to mind the secondary play of the Vikings against the Giants in the 41-donut game. Allowing Jacoby Jones to catch that deep ball is more egregious than anything we saw from Wasswa Serwanga on that fateful day in the Meadowlands.
2009? If Peyton Manning's interception in overtime, which led to the game-winning field goal, looked exactly like Brett Favre's late and over-the-middle pick against the Saints ... well, then your memory has been erased better than ours has. Manning's, though, was even worse.
Kaepernick's total destruction of Packers
If you're a Vikings fan, you became a 49ers fan quickly on Saturday because no self-respecting fan of the purple would shift allegiances to the Packers.
And you saw this: Colin Kaepernick is exactly the quarterback Vikings fans wanted Joe Webb to be -- a dynamic runner AND a deadly passer. (The QB the 49ers benched, Alex Smith, seems to be exactly the QB the Vikings brass wants Christian Ponder to be, but that's a story for another day.)
Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards, a quarterback record, engineering an offense that torched the bewildered Packers for 45 points and 579 yards. As noted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green Bay has given up 133 combined points in its past three playoff losses. Perhaps that was a catalyst for the web page we found Sunday afternoon, www.firecapersnow.com.
Yes, Vikings fans can delight in the loss (if they choose) and know their team played at least a small role in it. If Green Bay had won in Week 17, knocking Minnesota from playoff contention, the Packers would have had a first-round bye and the divisional game would have been at Lambeau Field.
Instead? Well, like we said, it was a grand Saturday for football.