Holy and crap. For 55 minutes I watched some of the most putrid football I have seen in my 40+ years as a Vikings fan. At some point, I'm not sure when, I felt like I was magically transported back to the abortion that was the lowpoint of the VIkings organization--the magical mystery tour of 1984, lead by Les "By God We're Gonna Take That Hill" Steckel. Yeah, it was that bad. But the silver lining was knowing that Brad Childress was going to be fired, and I would have so much material to write about I could moonlight for Letterman.
Then, for a little over four minutes, I saw the 2009 Vikings, with a little bit of mid 1990's Brett Favre thrown in for good measure. The offense played with a crisp urgency and precision, the defensive line played with fury, and defenders...wait for it...tackled people. It was a great win that saved a job, but not necessarily a season (the Vikes need to string together some wins to do that).
But now I find myself in a quandry. How do I rate the game from a stock market report perspective? Do I focus on the first 55 minutes, or the last 5? You can argue that the 55 minutes should be the bulk of the grading, because it was 95% of the game. But they won, in very dramatic fashion, and in the end, that's all that matters, isn't it? So I've decided to play this like the regular stock market on a really volatile day--a huge selloff to start the day where we see the market drop 900 points by lunch, but then a furious rally that actually gives them a net gain, like 25 points, by the end of the day. Ho hum, another day at the office.
It was a day of highs and lows, and a day where Brett Favre and the defense was forever young.
Whatever road you choose, I'm right behind you, win or lose.
SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Brett Favre, QB. Sunday was Favre at his very worst, and his very best. He had a terrible interception on the goal line, but there are maybe four people on the planet that can make that TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. None of them, other than Favre, are currently on the Vikings roster, so let's just put the 'let's bench Favre' to rest. I'm starting to think Favre is a cyborg, indestructible and incapable of being knocked out. Two fractures in the ankle? Cut it off and tape it up. 10 stitches in the chin? Rub some dirt on it and give me the ball. Leave 14 points on the field due to a bad pick and an incomplete pass on the goal line? Just give me the ball and two minutes, Sparky. And get the hell out of my way. 3-5 is still quite a hole to dig out of, but I'd rather that Favre have the shovel than anyone else. I'm just not sure if we'll dig out or bury ourselves, but I do know this--it will be a thrill a minute to watch.
Adrian Peterson, RB. Like the rest of the team, Peterson was fairly quiet for most of the afternoon. But when he went in from 5 yards out to get the Vikings within 7, you could see that a switch flipped in him. My Dad looked at me and said 'Adrian's fired up and pissed off. God help the Cardinals if the Vikings get the ball back.' They did, and he got the screen pass on the great Bevell call and ran like he had diahrrea with no toilet within sight. When he got up from that play, he slammed the football down to the turf, started nodding his head, and it...was...ON, bitches. Then in overtime, he went off tackle for 30 yards on the first play, and when the Cardinals brought a safety down in the box to stop him on the next play, Favre hit Bernard Berrian on a slant that essentially clinched the game. He is the best that there is, hands down.
Chris 'Warcraft' Kluwe, P. I got hammered by omitting Kluwe last time, so this time, I didn't forget. If the VIkings had lost yesterday, it wouldn't have been Kluwe's fault. As a matter of fact, for most of the game, the only consistent weapons the VIkings had were Kluwe and Greg Camarillo as a punt returner. Kluwe punted 4 times Sunday, and every one was downed inside the 20, including a dandy play that stuck the Cardinals inside their one.
Percy Harvin, Überman: If you saw the video of Harvin trying to practice on Friday, you probably thought to yourself there was no way he was playing. That's what I thought, and my fantasy team paid the price. But Harvin did play, and Arizona paid the price. Harvin is about one more game away from becoming my favorite player next to AP. I haven't seen a guy with that much heart and determination and will to play since...Favre? He gutted out a painful ankle injury, and was spectacular. You could tell his burst was slow on kickoff returns, but he was freakish as a receiver.
Bernard Berrian, WR/PR: Bernard Berrian has taken his fair share of warranted criticism, so when he steps up and has a good game it needs to be rewarded. Berrian was good on the outside and in the slot, setting up the winning FG in overtime. To his credit, he hasn't quit on his team when he could have, he just kept running into the wind, and it paid off yesterday. It looks like Favre and Berrian are finally on the same page, and that's a good thing for the VIkings going forward.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE. Shank, as in 'to Shank', as in 'stab in the heart'. Shiancoe, like the defensive line, was quiet for most of the day, and then blew up in the last two drives, culminating with the game tying TD catch. Shiancoe proved again why he's such a deadly red zone threat--he's big, he has good hands (and if you told me after the 2007 season I would EVER write that, I would have shivved you) and he can get open when he has to. You could argue if he was open on that TD pass, but he was open enough. Awesome throw, awesome catch.
Defensive Line. Tough call on this one, because for about 55 minutes they had absolutely zero pressure. None. On one particular play, second quarter I think, Derek Anderson...Derek...Anderson...dropped back, went through his progressions, pulled out his iphone, waited to get a signal beause cell phone reception in the Metrodome sucks ass, downloaded the 'find an open receiver app', and when he finally did, about 32 seconds later, hit a wide open receiver for a first down. Unreal. But then, when the game on the line, the defensive line, and particularly Jared Allen, absolutely dominated and inferior Arizona offensive line, and they harassed and harried Derek Anderson, making him look every bit the journeyman quarterback that he is. If it's not too much to ask, could we have that for the rest of the season please? Thanks.
Toby Gerhart, RB. Look, TG's gotten incrementally better each week, but yesterday, he threw a screen pass to Gerhart. He caught the ball on about the 6 or 7, had a blocker in front of him, and it looked every bit like Gerhart was going to score his first NFL TD. Then, he tripped. And fell. And didn't score. What did he trip on? Nothing. He...just...tripped. It was funny, and my Dad and I laughed, and then the Vikes failed to punch it in and had to settle for a field goal. Then we weren't laughing anymore. His running has been uninspiring, but that's probably not fair when the comparison is Adrian Peterson. Just don't trip on a pocket of oxygen and we won't have to put you here, okay Toby?
Ben Leber, LB. Did Ben Leber's name get called at all yesterday? About the most I've seen him lately was the guy defending Chilly's decision to release Randy Moss. Just for the record, that's not the reason he's on this list. It's just that I didn't see him at all yesterday, which is surprising, because he's usually good for one or two big plays a game.
Buy and Sell:
Buy: Greg Camarillo's effort. So yeah, Favre throws the first pick, and it looks like it's going in. My Dad drops the obligatory 'goddamnit' while I scream the obligatory 'somebody freakin' tackle him' plea. 'Cept I didn't say 'freakin'. Then, out of nowhere, comes Greg Camarillo and BAM! 1st and 10 Vikings. That was one hell of an effort, and it saved the game for the Vikes. If Kerry Rhodes takes that in, I don't think the Vikes can make that comeback.
Sell: The Minnesota VIkings effort for 55 minutes. So there's five minutes left, and the Vikings look dead in the water. My dad, (who was in rare form yesterday) looks at me and says 'at least that idiot Childress will get fired and we can get a good coach in here', and I agreed. The offense was struggling, Adrian Peterson only had 8 carries at that point--really? The best running back in football, and he only has 8 touches. The defense was giving up one third down conversion after the other, the line was getting no pressure at all, and the only guy that was making sure tackles was Antoine Winfield.
Buy: The Minnesota Vikings effort for the last five minutes and overtime. I don't know what happened, and I don't care, but those last two drives and overtime was some of the most exciting football since last season's Green Bay game in Lambeau. It was a glimpse of what this team could, and should be, as we head into the last half of the schedule. The offense was hitting on all cylindwers, the play calling was excellent, and the defense was fired up, recording more sacks in two series than they had all season, at least it seemed that way. Awesome turn around.
Buy: Bernard Berrian's shoes. Berrian's new name is Bananian, in honor of those banana colored shoes. Bud Grant would have had those shoes removed with a blowtorch if necessary, but I thought they were pretty cool. And Berrian had his best regualr season game in over a year. Coincidence? I think not...
Buy: Brett ' Two Minute Tommy' Favre. For you younger fans that never had the privilege (or curse?) to watch Tommy Kramer, what you saw in Favre yesterday was vintage Tommy. Throw for an assload of yards, toss a couple of ugly, ugly picks, but find the will to get downfield late in the game and manage to win the game. In an unrelated note, Tommy Kramer is the reason my Dad and many in my dad's generation became alcoholics relatively late in life.
Sell: Bad Brett Favre. As enjoyable as that comeback win was, it really shouldn't have been that close. And that's what you get with Favre. Last season, he had a career year, and I think we were all naive (at least I was) to think those incredible numbers could be repeated. He has to take better care of the ball and limit those mistakes, though. Let's face it, if this had been one of the better teams in the NFL, the VIkings probably wouldn't have come back to win the game.
Sell: Deciding that the 'we won't cover Larry Fitzgerald right before halftime and hope Arizona doesn't pick up on that' defense was a good idea. Um, didn't work out so well, Leslie. Let's shelve that defense, and never, ever, bring it out again when the VIkings face larry Fitzgerald.
So there you go, Vikings fans. Halfway through their schedule the Vikings find themselves a 3-5, which is not where I thought they would be, but it's better than it could've been. They have Green Bay and Chicago coming up in the next two weeks, and if they want to make the playoffs, they absolutely must win those two games.
It's not an optimal situation to be in, but hey, at least we're not Dallas!!