A Belated Lambeau Lament

 

Watching our beloved Minnesota Vikings lose just plain sucks. Adding in the fact that they lost on a big, national stage to divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers makes it that much worse. Oh, and our embattled, veteran quarterback Brett Favre capped off a performance that involved three interceptions with fractures in the ankle and heel of his left foot. But, for me, the final straw is that I foolishly engaged in a "friendly wager" with a friend who happens to be a Packers fan-the memory of this loss is going to stay front-and-center because the time has come to pay up.

So, I don't know if it was the dropping barometric pressure on Monday and Tuesday or the memory of Sunday night's game, but every time I tried to read the gloomy recaps and analysis of the game, my head started throbbing as if it was being stomped on by Clay Matthews.

It puts me in a mood. Take a wild guess what kind of mood that would be.

Part of what makes me so cranky and headachy when I think about the Vikings loss to the Packers on Sunday night is that there were so many good things going for the Vikings performance but it just sounds so placating and Pollyanna-ish to talk about the positives for a losing game. And yet, it seems incomplete and misleading to mention only the horrible stuff that had every purple-blooded Vikings fan out there wincing and cringing.

Clearly, the bad stuff stands out the most after a loss and needs to be addressed and we might as well start there.

For me, one of the worst mistake of the game didn't happen on the field, it happened in the Vikings review booth. I don't know who should have been whispering sweet nothings in Childress' ear during the game and telling him whether or not to throw the challenge flag, but whoever it was screwed up. In replay it did not appear that Packers tight end Andrew Quarless had the touchdown he was credited with at the beginning of the second quarter, but Childress didn't throw the challenge flag, the Packers quickly got the next play off and kicked the extra point, and the Vikings opportunity to challenge the play was gone. This one stings even more because Mike McCarthy on the other side of the field was flinging the challenge flag left and right, and winning the challenges.

In a game that was going to be close and hard fought, every point mattered. Considering the apparent pro-Packer bias in the officiating, it's quite possible the Vikings would have lost the challenge, but it was a chance worth taking. At least, it would have been a chance worth taking had the Vikings actually taken it.

For a team that has been so beat up, the Packers managed to put good pressure on Brett Favre and it paid off in plenty of errant throws. I will credit the Vikings offensive line with improved play because, despite holding onto the ball to try to keep several passing plays alive, Favre was sacked only once-pressured plenty, but sacked only once. Favre might have done better to take the sack or just throw the ball away a few times, but instead he threw three interceptions. And, now he has both a stress fracture and an avulsion fracture in his left ankle.

Winning puts a rosy glow on everything and losing...well, losing makes everything look like a consolation prize. But for the love of Zeus, the Vikings offense finally scored early and often! I think it deserves to be noted that the Vikings offense showed encouraging signs of rhythm and balance, rushing for 196 yards and passing for 206 yards. Favre spread the ball around, passing to seven different members of the offense. For the first time this season, the receiving corps looked, more often than not, that they had actually practiced with Favre and were reading from the same playbook. They might not be the scoring machine they were last season, but they showed they could score in the first half.

Aaron Rodgers stayed upright much too much, but even when the Vikings front four weren't putting him on the ground they were still making their presence felt. I loved that look of surprise on everyone's face, when Jared Allen intercepted Rodgers-even Jared looked surprised. But there weren't enough of those moments and it has me wondering if the defensive strategy of "bend but don't break" hasn't got a tad too limber.

I find myself hoping that the Vikings offense rediscovers how to drop the freaking hammer on opponents through the rest of this week, that the review booth and/or Childress learn to take a chance and throw the challenge flag, and that the defense returns to the simple joy of hitting quarterbacks. As for me, I'll be reminding myself that gambling does not pay-at least it doesn't pay for me.

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