Anyone old enough to drive remembers.
The 2003 Minnesota Vikings drove us crazy. The accumulated 6,294 yards of offense that season, an average of nearly 400 yards a game. Despite the most moronic of NFL Drafts (remember, the too busy trying to trade to make their first pick?), Minnesota came away with rookie Kevin Williams, a defensive tackle who had 10 1/2 sacks his rookie year. Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss could not be stopped. Minnesota started 6-0 that season.
Then they lost four straight. They lost seven of their last ten games and missed the playoffs.They lost four times to teams that finished 4-12.
Despite the horrid finish Minnesota stood on the brink of the playoffs with seconds left, the Cardinals in a 4th and 25 situation. And then Nate Poole caught the ball in the end zone, and was ruled in despite Antoine Winfield keeping one of his feet from touching by knocking him out of bounds.
Then the referees could rule that players would have been in-bounds had they not been pushed out.
I remember I was in Orlando with family and friends, watching the game with a room full of Packers fans, all of whom were mostly quiet until that final play. After the play, they erupted in an in-your-face display worthy of champions. I had zero fun the rest of the trip. No more laughing at Dumbo, Goofy, Minnie.. No more enjoyment at the Tower of Terror. No cotton candy.
Later, in reflection, I wondered why Arizona did not just lay down? Why was it so important to win when you are 3-12? They obviously needed draft picks very badly. Seriously, all they had was a worn-down Emmett Smith and rookie Anquan Boldin. Their quarterback was Josh McCown.
Now I know.
Ten years later it feels good to play spoiler. The last two weeks have been fun. The tie with Green Bay was anti-climatic, but it brings me joy to see them 1/2 game out of the division lead so late. Defeating, or exposing the Eagles last Sunday was fun. Our rag-tag group put a whipping on a team looking ahead to the post-season.
Next up: the Cincinnati Bengals. On deck: the Detroit Lions.
Both teams are eyeing the playoffs, though Detroit is on the outside looking in. The Bengals hold a one-game lead in the AFC Central, and will face the team chasing them, the Baltimore Ravens, the following week. This game is very important to them.
Which is why playing spoiler is so fun. Our Vikings can go crush the hopes of millions of fans.Young fans. Old fans. People in bars full of their rival fans. People on game threads. Some will cry if Minnesota wins.That is why playing spoiler is fun.
Minnesota has started to play consistent on offense with Matt Cassel at the helm. It appears Coach Frazier and a handful of fans (including me) were wrong about who should be the starter at quarterback. Cassel has been very good. So good in fact that maybe others are starting to realize we do not have to have a top three pick and choose a quarterback. Maybe Matt Cassel can be the starter for years to come? Maybe we can take our time, choosing many QBs, until we find one we like.
The defense had their best game in some time, and despite surrendering a lot of points again, looked strong at times. Stopped the Eagles and got off the field.
Meanwhile,Teddy Bridgewater, a shoe-in first pick QB a few weeks ago, has dropped significantly in mock drafts and rumors are he may stay in school now. Underclassmen hurlers are fleeing the draft faster than rats on a sinking ship. Maybe it is time to resolve ourselves to the old "best player available" model? Maybe let go of thinking about drafts and focus on beating a playoff contender.
And want to win.
Because right now we can...