It sure felt like it was going to be one of THOSE weekends in Minnesota sports, didn’t it?
The Wolves were listless and discombobulated; the Wild was about the same. The Gophers were the Gophers. (More on all that in a minute.)
All we needed to add to the misery was the predictable Vikings loss that would send a once-promising season further into the abyss. They kicked off against the Eagles at 3:25 p.m. guaranteed to be in last place in the division with a loss, and they were returning to the scene of last year’s 38-7 crime with a defense made even more shaky recently.
Then Dan Bailey missed one field goal. And another. This was happening.
And then … it wasn’t?
There are plenty of sophisticated takeaways from the Vikings’ 23-21 win, but the short version is this: The defense was stout, the kicking game was clutch when it had to be, Kirk Cousins handled pressure wonderfully and Adam Thielen sealed things with a harder-than-it-looked onside kick recovery.
Suddenly it doesn’t feel like the Vikings are chasing that bad Buffalo loss. Through a brutal first five games of the season that sent them on the road to play the Packers, Rams and Eagles, the Vikings are all square at 2-2-1.
There are no guarantees going forward, but maybe — just maybe — some order and identity has been restored.
• The headline from the Packers’ 31-23 loss to the Lions is obviously the FIVE missed kicks by Mason Crosby (four field goals and an extra point), but overall something still doesn’t feel right with Green Bay.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized the offensive game plan after last week’s 22-0 win over Buffalo, and Green Bay followed that by falling behind 24-0 at halftime against Detroit. The Packers, at 2-2-1 just like the Vikings, look vulnerable and out of sorts.
• Speaking of the adventures of Crosby and Bailey, they stood in stark contrast to Graham Gano drilling a 63-yard field goal for Carolina to defeat the Giants 33-31.
Remember when the Vikings had Ryan Longwell from 2006-11, then Blair Walsh was automatic from 50-plus yards as a rookie in 2012? I swear it happened.
• You officially have permission to tune out from Gophers football until head coach P.J. Fleck collects a signature win.
There were moments of optimism and promise in the 48-31 homecoming loss to Iowa — and yes, I struggled to type the first part of that sentence — and watching the process of building a program can be fun for some fans.
But for the casual types? It’s not happening this year. Feel free to divert your attention elsewhere.
• The Timberwolves’ flat performance in Friday’s preseason loss to Oklahoma City might not be alarming under normal circumstances, but anyone who has been paying attention knows these are no ordinary times.
There is obviously the backdrop of Jimmy Butler requesting a trade and the awkwardness that has created as the Wolves try to facilitate a deal and remake themselves on the fly.
Then there is the fact that it was the only preseason appearance at Target Center. That it featured a small but vocal crowd that booed head coach Tom Thibodeau, and that those fans saw a listless performance from many starters (especially Andrew Wiggins) has to be a concern to anyone in the organization — particularly those on the business side.
• Speaking of VERY early judgments, the Wild through two games look like a team that could have used — and perhaps expected — a more significant offseason roster overhaul.
Their roster looks old, slow and stale. Two games is far too early to draw too many conclusions, but first impressions are not favorable.