Minnesota Vikings (8-7) at Denver Broncos (6-9), 3:15pm
As Howard Cosell might have said, “It all comes down to this.”
The Vikings shouldn’t be in this spot. Then again, would they even be the Minnesota Vikings if they didn’t toy with our emotions like this? Two games decide this team’s fate. One takes place at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, always a difficult place to get a road win. The other, in our nation’s capital where the Redskins, if they beat the Brad Johnson-led Dallas Cowboys, earn the final NFC spot, regardless of what happens in Colorado.
Think helpless. Think wrong. We have to cheer for Brad Johnson again.
Makes one wish the team would have showed up last Sunday and not just mailed it in when facing a team playing with a lot of emotion compounded by the death of one of their players.
The situation is too bad for a lot of reasons. By all accounts the Vikings have over achieved this season. Very few fans would have predicted Minnesota would battle for the post season up until the last game of the regular season. 6-10, or maybe 8-8 was a realistic guess for a squad with a new quarterback, virtually no quality receiving options and a secondary with a shaky track record. But during a lot of games it didn’t matter, great line play combined with a star in the backfield and minimizing mistakes was enough down the stretch and surprised this fan. The whole scenario this afternoon in Denver and DC stinks. A win for the Skins or a loss by the Vikings will sweep all the surprises under the rug.
Of course if Brad Johnson has it in him and the Vikings take care of business...
Such is the life of a Minnesota Vikings fan.
Minnesota 3, Denver 14
Dallas 3, Washington 13
This was a half of missed opportunities. Whether it was Chester Taylor losing control of the ball while reaching for the pylon (worst rule in the NFL by the way) resulting in a touchback, or a Wide open (with a capital W) Troy Williamson dropping a long pass from Tarvaris Jackson that would have resulted in 6 points, the first half of football today continued the very poor play of the Vikings.
Add to this the fact that Washington is looking like their headed to Seattle next week with a strong first half against Dallas, a score every Vikings player is peeking at on the Denver scoreboard, and this could be long second half.
The Vikes look tired, slow and resigned to an extended vacation. If they don’t turn things around in the last thirty minutes, that’s exactly what’s awaiting them.
Minnesota 19, Denver 22 (OT)
Dallas 6, Washington 27
Washington clinches a playoff berth
The dream is over. The season was doomed by halftime of the week 16 contest versus Washington. Opportunities are few and far between in the National Football League, and when you’re presented one at home, an inability to capitalize will be quickly snatched up by the next team down the line.
Today’s game was not pretty. Very few games this season were. Adrian Peterson had the opportunity to capture the league’s rushing title but for some reason did not play the 1st quarter and had only 11 carries in the game. (This would be my first question to coach Brad Childress after the game.) Chester Taylor ran well, but cost the team with two fumbles. The passing game was quiet until the fourth quarter and we saw two terrible drops by former #7 overall draft pick Troy Williamson who will hopefully be shown the door after another disappointing season of an uninspiring career.
In true Vikes fashion, hope was this team’s greatest undoing.
One final note (and I might be crazy, but) I’m cautiously excited about Tarvaris Jackson as the Vikings quarterback. At times he has you scratching your head saying, “What the hell is he doing in the NFL?” But other moments, like the 4th quarter of today’s game against the Broncos, he makes sense. He obviously has a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability. A confidence that will sometimes cause him to make a throw into coverage or from his back foot but also is necessary in this league to make the big play.
Jackson is a second year player and certainly needs more time to develop into the quarterback the Vikings need. Perhaps if the Vikings can pick up a quality receiver, his options and game will improve.
Remember, when there’s nothing left to believe in, believe in hope.