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That one just stung, as bad as any regular season loss really could barring playoff implications. But as I watched the game at The Max (yes, like the spot A.C. Slater and Lisa Turtle used to hang out in on Saved by the Bell) in beautiful Great Falls, Montana, the rest of the purple brethren and I knew Jay Cutler was going to drive the length of the field and score a game-tying touchdown with a PAT sealing the victory. Shout out to The Max: $2 Bloody Mary’s and $5 wings during all football games, hell of a deal. It’s sad and disheartening that every Vikings fan KNEW Cutler was going to win it after the offense failed to cash in on first-and-goal inside the 10 yard line in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Alas, it takes a different breed to cheer for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Good: D/ST
Sure, the defense gave up 31 points (really only 24 because of Christian Ponder‘s pick six) and failed to stop the Bears from scoring a touchdown when it really matter. And okay, the special teams unit gave up a Bears franchise record 249 return yards to speedster Devin Hester. But hey, they also made some damn big plays. If you happened to randomly pick up the Vikings defense in an ESPN standard scoring fantasy football league (this guy did), they scored you a robust 17 points. Cordarrelle Patterson electrified with a 105 yard kickoff return touchdown to open the game. Brian Robinson scooped and scored a Jared Allen forced fumble, and rumbled to the end zone on a 61 yard scamper. On top of that, Letroy Guion literally ripped the ball out of Matt Forte‘s usually capable hands to give the ball back to a sputtering second half offense. Don’t forget ball-hawk Harrison Smith, who made a nice interception with the Bears deep in Vikings territory. They made some plays, just not in the clutch.
The (Still Pretty Bad But Not That) Bad: Christian Ponder
His numbers weren’t eye-popping, and they will never be. But Mister Ponder looked like he had a glimmer of poise in the second half. Ponder also hit Kyle Rudolph for a 20 yard touchdown to briefly tie near the end of the first half. Yes, that interception returned for a touchdown was atrocious, but it was really the only Week One Ponder type throw. He also had some discipline and threw the ball away when he should have instead of forcing something into double coverage or triple coverage. Ponder needs to use his legs more and he seemed to realize it this week. He only ran for 18 yards on 6 attempts, but 3 yards per attempt is much better than zero yards or a sack fumble. There’s still no killer instinct in Ponder. Convert one of Blair Walsh‘s three field goals inside 30 yards into a touchdown just one time, and the Vikings win. Inside the red zone it’s the quarterback’s job to punch it in. Put those cleats on the opponents throat and twist Christian! Sorry a little graphic there, and with that being said it wasn’t entirely CP7’s fault.
The Ugly: Play Calling
The Vikings don’t tell me who does the play calling. No one outside of God and the sidelines knows who is in charge of the on-field product. When Devin Hester constantly torches the kick coverage: STOP KICKING IT TO DEVIN MOTHERFUCKING HESTER. First and goal from inside the 10 yard line with around three minutes left in the game, and with the lead: GIVE THE GODDAMN BALL TO ADRIAN PETERSON THREE TIMES IN A ROW AND RUN THE CLOCK DOWN AND FORCE THEM TO USE THEIR TIMEOUTS. In the end, it comes down to the head coach. Coach Leslie Frazier has to take his special teams coach aside and tell them to kick it elsewhere after two or three big returns. He sure as hell has to talk to offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and say run the ball three times here. Don’t try some bullshit play-action short fade to the tight end on second and goal from inside the ten, Musgrave. It was ultimately that play that gave Cutler and company the chance for a comeback win a second week in a row. Jeez Louise.
Next Week: Cleveland Browns
After two road division games, this game will hopefully be a sigh of relief for the Vikes. The Browns are also an 0-2 squad, and they are also coming off a tough loss against Baltimore. But Cleveland isn’t necessarily the push-over they have been in recent years past. Trent Richardson could easily take the game into his hands and shred the Vikings D forcing them to play more men in the box. That could in turn set up Brandon Weeden to hit some deep play-action routes. Hard to see the Vikings losing this one though. The Dome will be cranked up even after a bad start, and AD is going to be pissed and snap off 150+ yard game this Sunday. Make that 1-2, one in the left column baby!
Prediction: Vikings 27, Browns 17
Adam ‘Bobcat’ Anderson has a degree in journalism from the prestigious University of Minnesota which has landed him numerous jobs in the dying newspaper industry. He also likes beer. Follow him on Twitter @bobcathotdish.
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Category - Sports Culture