The Twin Cities sporting press might not have the influence that was the case in decades past, yet we downtrodden print folks have done all that is in our power to help the Vikings avoid the dangers of early season complacency.

The veteran of veterans showed the way for the Star Tribune's whippersnappers last week when he penned a column that appeared under the headline: "Lions lowly, but are no pushovers."

The Vikings appeared to be unmoved by these words of wisdom for the opening 24 minutes of Sunday's game at Ford Field, then exerted themselves late in the first half and dominated in the second half.

The final was 27-13, with the pattern and the margin (34-20) a duplicate of what had taken place a week earlier against the Browns in Cleveland.

On a racetrack, a high-class thoroughbred that lopes around the track and then zooms away in the stretch is said to have "won for fun." In the NBA, an elite team that allows the Timberwolves to hang around for three quarters and then pulls away is applauded for doing "only what was necessary to win."

NFL fans have too much emotion tied into the result to accept the lulls that come with winning for fun or doing only what's necessary. When domination doesn't last for 60 minutes, NFL fans are more likely to be concerned over flaws than to celebrate victory.

As a service to both the fans and the athletes, we at the Strib have emphasized the concerns in print this week.

We are worried over the number of sacks (seven) that the aged quarterback, Brett Favre, has absorbed in two games. We are curious why Favre has been used to dink passes and not tried to hit a few long balls on Sundays.

We are wondering why Pat Williams and pals are not stuffing the run as they had in the first three seasons of the Brad Childress Era. And we are completely mystified by the slow starts against two bad teams.

Jared Allen, the premier pass rusher, took note of the post-Detroit angst and said Wednesday: "It's kind of funny. We're 2-0 and people are acting like we lost the last game, but we did all right. We'll get there, and we'll be just fine."

The local sporting press was seeking this reaction, of course. As servants of the Purple Faithful, there's an obligation to try to irritate the Vikings into becoming the fast-starting, run-stuffing, pass-protecting, downfield-attacking juggernaut that the fan base desires.

Unfortunately, I can't take any credit for any of this. It was the sage of sages that warned the Vikings not to be fooled by the Lions' 18-game losing streak, and it has been the Strib's younger generation of mavens that has fretted this week over shortcomings.

I'm feeling left out, since from here, there are no cautions to offer. Consider:

• Favre taking a few sacks is much better than the alternative they witnessed in Green Bay late in his career, which was him throwing the ball early and up for grabs to avoid getting hit.

• Childress didn't have the clout with Favre to get him to show up for offseason workouts or training camp in Mankato. That made it seem unlikely the coach could get Favre to put aside completely the gunslinger stuff and become a ball-possession quarterback.

Yet, there is Favre -- patiently, resolutely moving the ball with quick strikes, until a defense decides it has to stop the 5-, 6-yard passes, and then Adrian Peterson bursts off tackle for 30 yards and another touchdown.

• Does anyone really think we have seen the best Pat Williams had to offer as a run-stopper against either Cleveland or Detroit? Large Pat turns 37 next month. There are a certain number of head-busting, all-out plays per season in that thick body. He's going to use a minimum of those in games he knows the Vikings are going to win.

You will see the Large Man considerably more fired up and involved this Sunday against San Francisco's Frank Gore.

• Those weren't slow starts in Cleveland and Detroit. What happened was the Vikings won for fun.

And when a team does that on the road in the NFL, it's an understatement for Jared Allen to say, "We'll get there, and we'll be just fine."

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. •