Things had been awfully good around here lately — too good, a suspicious Minnesota sports fan might say — before this weekend.
If you were waiting for the other shoe to drop, it arrived in the form of a size 19 boot. Gophers football … Timberwolves (twice) … Wild … Gophers men’s hockey (twice) … Gophers men’s basketball … all of them lost on Friday, Saturday or both.
We were due for a regression to the mean, but this just felt, well, mean.
At least on Sunday everyone could count on the Vikings taking care of business at home against an overmatched Denver team and cruising into the bye week. That would get people through the gray days, or at least until someone else won again.
Go ahead, get some work done around the house. Check the halftime score just to make sure.
It was 20-0 as expected but, gulp ... in favor of the Broncos?
We were headed at warp speed into a total system failure weekend — the worst I can recall, which is saying something given the competition and my exacting memory for ineptitude.
We were 99% of the way there — maybe 99.99% given that a TV graphic kept reminding everyone that NFL teams are 0-99 in their past 99 games when trailing by at least 20 points at halftime.
Fans were tweeting at me that Mike Zimmer should be fired at halftime.
And then? It turned into one of the greatest comebacks and palate cleansers I can recall, which is saying something given the competition and my exacting memory for success.
Kirk Cousins turned into YOU VIKE THAT?! mode. The Vikings didn’t play flawlessly, but they overcame adversity, took advantage of a key miscue (Denver’s missed field-goal attempt) and executed an extreme version of Zimmer’s bend-but-don’t-break defense on the final heart-pounding drive to prevail 27-23.
I have a (much) younger brother who is 19 and happened to be attending his first Vikings game in person Sunday. I’m both thrilled that he had the experience of seeing that game and mortified at the standard set.
It was the ultimate “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” win. It didn’t erase everything else that happened over the weekend, but it sure helped.
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The Gophers’ loss at Iowa was as frustrating as the Vikings’ win was exhilarating. But games like that happen, and it shouldn’t cause anyone to hop off the bandwagon.
They lost by four points on the road to a good team. If something similar happens next weekend at Northwestern, the alarm level will be elevated.
“Everything we hoped for and dreamed of is still in front of us,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said after the game.
That’s pretty much true. The big difference now is the Gophers likely will have to beat Wisconsin in the regular-season finale to win the West and reach the Big Ten Championship Game. Maybe that’s not ideal, but it is fitting.
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Just like nobody has been saying for years now, the Wolves absolutely need Andrew Wiggins. If the value of the new Wiggins wasn’t fully appreciated during his first 11 games and a 7-4 Wolves start, it was accentuated during two lopsided home losses this weekend with Wiggins absent after a death in his family.
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One NBA story line that has me completely bored: Carmelo Anthony’s return to the league, this time with the Blazers. He was a flop in each of his last two stops (Oklahoma City and Houston), and expecting anything different now is silly.