This has been a historic day in the lifetime of this little corner of the Internet.
The reason I say that is two-fold. First, this is the 1,000th story that yours truly has posted to The Daily Norseman. And, just as the early games were kicking off, the site had it's 500,000th lifetime visit. (If you're from Jupiter, Florida and hit the site right around noon or so, congratulations. . .it was you!)
And with that being the case, it's ironic that once again. . .in a "win and your in" situation. . .we were treated to a visit by the same. . .old. . .Vikings.
Once again, just like 2003 and 2007, the Vikings found themselves in a position where they had to simply win one football game, and they'd find themselves in the post-season. Heck, they're STILL in a position where they have to simply win one football game, and they'll find themselves in the post-season. Yes, they went into today's game without the services of big Pat Williams in the middle of the defensive line, which was bad going into a game against the league's top rush offense.
But you know something? Despite all of that. . .
Michael Turner didn't kill the Minnesota Vikings today.
Matt Ryan didn't kill the Minnesota Vikings today.
Roddy White didn't kill the Minnesota Vikings today.
No, ladies and gentlemen, the people who killed the Minnesota Vikings today were, as per usual, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings outgained the Falcons by a margin of 350-222. Minnesota was only penalized 3 times for 15 yards. Tarvaris Jackson played an insanely good game today, given the circumstances. Visanthe Shiancoe had the first 100-yard receiving game for a Vikings' TE since. . .damn, I don't even know when. Probably back in the Steve Jordan days, if he even had a 100-yard game in his heyday. In the second half, Matt Ryan only completed 2 out of 6 passes for 24 yards and the Falcons were 1 for 5 on third down.
But you simply can not expect to win a game where you fumble the ball seven times, losing four. I love Adrian Peterson. . .all Viking fans love Adrian Peterson, and why wouldn't we? The guy does things that no other RB in the league is capable of doing, and was getting mention in the NFL's MVP race going into today's game. But Adrian Peterson isn't going to be the NFL MVP, nor should he be. In your team's biggest game of the year, you can't put the ball on the ground three times. (Yes, the official scorebook only gives him two, but the fumbled exchange between Tarvaris Jackson and AP that was credited to Jackson was all on Peterson, in my opinion.)
We had Bernard Berrian fumbling a punt return on what should have been a three-and-out on the Falcons' second drive (on a ball that he should have fair caught anyway, since he wasn't going anywhere after the catch even if he had held on). We had Matt Birk snapping the ball over Tarvaris Jackson's head on a third down in Minnesota territory. We had Jackson getting sacked and having the ball take a Madden-esque 20+ yard bounce the other direction when the Vikings were closing in on the Falcons' red zone. For crying out loud, Chris Kluwe punted ONE TIME today. Had you told me prior to today's game that Chris Kluwe was only going to punt one time against the Falcons and we'd still end up losing by a touchdown, I would have thought you were insane.
That's not to say that there weren't some good things about today's game. I can't say enough about what we saw from Tarvaris Jackson today. He's a completely different quarterback from the guy we saw in the first two games of 2007, and has pretty well established that the Vikings should NOT be looking to draft a QB early in the 2009 Draft. In the 10 quarters of play since he took over for Gus Frerotte, he's completed 65% of his passes, put up a TD/INT ratio of 7/0 (with only one total turnover) and posted a quarterback rating of an amazing 126.5.(as opposed to the 64.8 rating he posted in the first two games of the year). That doesn't even include the 63 yards rushing he picked up today (tying him with Peterson for the team lead) and his ability to get out of plays that probably would have had us carting Gus Frerotte off of the field.
And we all knew that Visanthe Shiancoe was king-sized. . .but today he was king-sized ON the field. Seven catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns is amazing. It's not every day that you see a TE average almost 20 yards a catch. And they weren't all easy catches, either. . .the guy took some shots this afternoon. But he really, truly showed us today what the Vikings saw when they gave him that
lengthy huge big rich contract they gave him before the 2007 season.
As I said before, the Vikings technically control their own destiny for the NFC North division title. . .and that's the only way they're getting in, as they can't get the other wild card spot (Atlanta clinched one of those spots with a win today). If the Vikings beat the Giants next weekend, they're in. Failing that, if the Bears lose to either Green Bay (tomorrow night) or at Houston (in Week 17), we can get in that way, too. Since I have a feeling that the Packers have pretty well folded up the tents for the season, it's going to come down to the season's final week.
Even though, quite frankly, it shouldn't be that way.