When Minnesota added a field goal late in last week's game to go up 30-24, the majority of Purple fans were upset. They knew our inability to score a touchdown would mean Jay Cutler and his Bears' offense would march down the field and defeat the Vikings. It has been like that for a while now.
If there is a statistic that demonstrates the worst pass defense while leading late in a game, Minnesota would probably be atop the NFL the last few years. When Chris Cook started waving frantically to his teammates in the final seconds while lined up in front of two Bears' receivers, we knew. Cook seemingly froze between the two for just a split-second, and then tried in vain to recover late in covering Martellus Bennett, the Bears' tight end. Chicago had its' win after the extra-point. While the most dire of us hoped for a chance to make one last long throw to set up a Blair Walsh field goal, John Carlson was running sideways after recovering a squib kick and tossing the ball away.
Most pessimistic fans are now pointing to a tough schedule, a return to our losing ways, and the hopeful ouster of Leslie Frazier, Christian Ponder, and a few select others. They feel betrayed by the hype of last season's playoff run. They see a defense that has surrendered more than thirty points in each game. An offense that cannot pass down field. They point to a six or seven win season at best.
The optimists are fewer. They state the first two games were on the road. Christian Ponder played better in Chicago. Aaron Rodgers spent his first three years watching from the sidelines, so it is too early to give up on Ponder. As soon as fullback Jerome Felton returns we will see a new team. Both games were close. They hold out hope for a nine or ten win season.
Today's home opener against the Browns is a 'must-win' game for the fans. Last Sunday, it was reported that Vikings' players were secretly calling the Chicago game a must win. It made sense. Tough to be 0-2 in the division, with losses to two teams we probably need to beat in the standings. But when you make that news public, suddenly a lot of fans are thinking the same thing.
Now Cleveland comes to the Dome like a rock band that forgot their instruments. And their lead singer. Odds makers have made Minnesota a significant favorite. Without Trent Richardson and the injured Brandon Weeden, Cleveland is left with a couple of no-name players and newly signed Willis McGahee. It is assumed McGahee will play, but expect kick-returner Bobby Rainey to get some action. Brian Hoyer will be the quarterback. Some may remember him from his Michigan State Spartan days.
Some may not.
Cleveland is apparently playing for the number one pick in the draft. Their move to trade Richardson for a future draft choice is evidence that they have resigned themselves to not being good in 2013. Everything points to a Minnesota win.
And that is what is so scary. It is like we are up six points late in a game...