Vikings, Packers, battle at Lambeau: Eric Refsland blogs it
This week, we're introducing our new Vikings blogger. Eric Refsland, a lifelong Vikes fan, is checking in with dispatches before, during and after the game. Watch this post for updates during the divisional clash with Green Bay. (And watch the site as we continue to sign free agent sports bloggers!)
The former democratic Senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy, once said comparing politics to football: “You have to be smart enough to understand the game, dumb enough to think it’s important.” The Vikings this week were almost dumb enough to believe that football was more important than one of their starting receivers attending to his family after losing his grandmother. Almost, because the team decided on Saturday that they will not withhold a game check from Troy Williamson who missed last week’s win over the San Diego Chargers.
Thank God: the very last thing this organization needs is more negative national attention, especially negative attention concerning team-player relations. Isn’t it hard enough to convince a free agent to play here? “Come to Minnesota, play in the dome.” Very enticing. Now the pitch can include, “If the woman who raised you passes, we might just dock your pay.” I can almost hear the queue forming.
This is relevant because the team that takes the field this Sunday against the 7-1 Green Bay Packers is hardly a perfect unit. The most glaring need right now is at the quarterback position. The match-up against the Pack makes this fact even more obvious by contrast. Brett Favre needs 94 yards passing today to reach the 60,000 yard plateau for his career. The Vikes are starting Brooks Bollinger, who has 1,979 yards in his career. The sad thing here is Brooks is our best quarterback right now. Tarvaris Jackson is hurt, and the Vikings cut the recently signed Koy Detmer because Kelly Holcomb's neck has apparently improved enough that he can back-up Bollinger.
Typing those last few sentences made me weep.
This off-season is the time to get a QB. Donovan McNabb, Brady Quinn, or Matt Ryan from Boston College with our 1st round pick are possible solutions the Vikings' QB famine. This team has bright spots (Adrian Peterson, a strong defensive line), and now we need to build around this core. Let’s hope Funeral-Gate hasn’t hurt our chances.
The questions coming into today’s game are: Will Adrian Peterson continue to be successful against a good Packers’ defense that knows the Vikings lack a passing game? How many yards will Brett Favre pass for today? The Minnesota defense had a great game last week against San Diego; can they pressure Favre into make a few key bad decisions? This game will be close. Packers-Vikings clashes always are. I’m sure I won’t be the only one cheering a little harder for Troy Williamson.
Packers 13, Vikings 0
Brett Favre 20/31 for 155 yards
Brooks Bollinger 3/6 for 7 yards
It’s amazing the Vikings are down only 13.That’s the good news at the half. We’ve only run 17 offensive plays!
It’s nice to have a stud running back, but it doesn’t do a team much good when you get down early and when you can’t rely on your quarterback to make a big play on third down to keep a drive alive. Favre is what we thought he was. A guy who somehow pulls off miraculous plays that make him a god in Wisconsin but an annoying thorn in the side of every Packers opponent.
The Vikings defense needs to find a way to get some pressure on Favre. Without that, this could be a very lopsided victory for Green Bay. The Packers came into the game averaging only 72 yards a game on the ground. Ryan Grant (who?) already has 92 yards.
The Vikings have been weak against the pass all year, but if we can’t stop the run either, we’re really in trouble.
Finally, you know it’s bad when Koren Robinson is making big plays.
I’m scared to watch this second half.
Packers 34, Vikings 0
Did I say this game was going to be close?
You might ask, what does “Herman’s Head” have to do with today’s crushing defeat? Maybe you don’t remember “Herman’s Head”? That’s probably a good thing, but the above episode aired the last time the Vikings were shut out in a game -- September 22, 1991. It has been a long time.
The Green Bay Packers are really good. That’s what I keep telling myself so I don’t have to believe the Vikings are terrible. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s a little of column A, a little of column B. It pains me to acknowledge that the green and gold severely outplayed the purple and gold earning an enviable 8-1 record, but that was an ass-kicking plain and simple. The Vikings defense was dominated, Brett Favre could do no wrong, Adrian Peterson didn’t have the opportunities he needed and might be hurt, and the Packers’ Koren Robinson had nearly as many catches and yards as our leading receiver. Yikes. In a play that summed this game nicely, Ruvell Martin found the ball in his hands in the end zone after Darren Sharper and Cedric Griffin collided and gift-wrapped a touchdown for Favre and the Pack. Anyway you look at this game, it disappoints.
What do we have to look forward to? Well, the Raiders come to town next week. So we have that going for us ... which is nice. Beyond that, I think a lot of Vikes fans are already looking to next year and how this team can improve on both sides of the ball. Until then I think we need to get used to hearing a lot about Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Obviously, the Vikings' chance to quiet the praise of our neighbors came up a little short today.
Long anguished Vikings fan Eric Refsland grew up listening to legendary tales of a time when the Vikes went to the Super Bowl. His life’s ambition is to witness the purple and gold going all the way. He slept his way into writing this blog.