As someone who has watched the Vikings for roughly a quarter of a century, we have grown accustomed, mostly, to asking ourselves the other version of what-if questions. What if Darrin Nelson ... What if they take a knee there, or don't take a knee there ... What if the kick splits the uprights ... What if Nate Poole ... and countless other less memorable, but heartbreaking-at-the-time moments.
It is strange territory -- even a day later -- to think about all the what-ifs from yesterday's Vikings game. What if Brett Favre didn't come out of retirement? What if the Vikings didn't cut Bobby Wade to sign Greg Lewis? What if Percy Harvin hadn't been sick all week? What if Harvin hadn't been winded and needed a break from the plays before? What if the 49ers had run a play-action pass on third down on their previous possession and picked up a first down that iced the game? What if the kick at the end of the first half hadn't been blocked, and the Vikings had coasted to a more conventional and pedestrian victory? What if ...
When a game culminates the way it did Sunday, we tend to examine all the little ingredients that go into making it possible. But we'll say it again: we're so used to examining agonizing losses that it felt just a little strange to be going through the process after a breathtaking victgory. We're pretty sure that's how so many of our friends felt, too.
Today's technology means even your friends with local roots now in distant areas can watch the Vikings and react to them with you in real time. We had text messages with various characters, including this batch coming from Seattle (3:07 -- "Dis[redacted]gusting." 3:10 -- "Well, this is why they got him. One more chance is more than they deserve." 3:18 -- "I take it all back. I'm in awe. That just happened."). We had a phone call from Rocket, who this weekend was in North Carolina. And we had the e-mail exhange going with Drew Magary in the Washington D.C. area. The relevant portion:
DM: (3:05) And ... ballgame.
RB: (3:06) Get a stop and there's still a chance.
DM: (3:07) Not with Oldy McInaccurate out there.
DM: (3:15) HOLY [REDACTED]
RB: (3:17) Did that really just happen?
We can hardly blame Drew for having no faith. Perhaps ours was more wishful thinking than anything, but still we had a sense that something could happen. Maybe it's Favre. Maybe we're setting ourself up for an awful fall. But if the mood of an entire rooting population can change for a day in 8 minutes, maybe it can change for good.