I am a huge Vikings fan. I don’t think I’ve missed a handful of Vikings games over the course of the last 15 years.
I remember 1998 well. I remember the Darrin Nelson drop in the end zone against the Redskins way back when.
That brings us to last night’s game. The Vikings offense was much better than the Saints offense. The Vikings defense was much better than the Saints defense. However, there were the six fumbles (three lost), the two interceptions, and some questionable referee calls and non-calls (both ways). But when the Vikings offense got the ball with about two-and-a-half minutes to go in the 4th quarter, I couldn’t help but get a little excited. Could the Vikings actually be Super Bowl bound? They haven’t been to the Super Bowl since I was one year old!
Then Chester Taylor busted a long run that put the team into field goal range, a 51 yarder. I was officially excited. I was beyond the “what’s going to go wrong now” feelings.
Then came two straight zero-gain rushes.
Then came the 12-men-on-the-field penalty.
Then came the interception.
Then came the lost coin toss.
Then came the pass interference call.
Then came the 4th-and-1 Pierre Thomas/Chad Greenway collision and first down spot.
Then came the Bobby Meacham “catch.”
Then came the Garrett Hartley 40-yard field goal.
Then came the proverbial kick to the groin that sits in your gut for way longer than it should.
Vikings find a way to lose. Saints advance to face the Colts in two weeks in the Super Bowl in Miami.
Immediately following the game, on Facebook, Twitter and likely in bars around the Upper Midwest, Vikings fans wanted to place blame. Whose fault? Brett Favre’s for the interception? Without Brett Favre putting in one of the more admirable games in Vikings history, the Vikings aren’t in the game. It’s hard to blame #4. Adrian Peterson? Sure, the fumbles were horrible, but he is the kind of talent that still gained well over 100 yards and three touchdowns. Bernard Berrian? Percy Harvin? Naufahu Tahi?
Within minutes of game’s end, many fans were calling for the head of Brad Childress, which I find ridiculous.
Vikings fans are taking this loss very hard. The further along a team advances in the playoffs, the harder the loss is, especially when the loss was due almost entirely to turnovers. It’s hard.
But I also think Vikings fans need to take a step back. Think about this? How many plays were Vikings fans able to affect during the game? Sitting in a bar in Minnesota, how much were fans able to affect the outcome? As much as Vikings fans are hurting, put yourself in the shoes of the Vikings players and the Vikings coaching staff. Imagine how much they are hurting this morning. Imagine how bad they feel. Imagine how many times they will replay every single play from the game over the course of their offseason.
Now add to that a fan base that wants to, and feels the need to, place blame somewhere. Add in a fan base that insists on making them feel like they let them down.
Vikings fans, take a step back. We have been treated to an incredible season. The team went 13-5 and was in the national spotlight throughout the season. This team is incredibly talented and was a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But so are the Saints. And so are the Colts.
Sure, this is a game of missed opportunities, and this is a game that will hurt for awhile. It is a game we will never forget. But let’s just put our anger and frustration in the proper perspective. As much pain as some Vikings fans may feel, think a little bit about the players, the ones who went out there and made every effort to try to bring Vikings fans a Super Bowl championship.
And most important, less than a month until pitchers and catchers report!