On Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings beat the scrappy Detroit Lions 24 to 10 at Mall of America Field it was as if Vikings fans everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief. Gone were the dire predictions of what happens to teams that start the season 0-3-and not a moment too soon. Honestly, if I had to listen to another rousing rendition of "They're Completely Screwed If They Start 0-3" statistics I would probably develop a twitch like Herbert Lom's character Inspector Dreyfus did in the Pink Panther movies every time bumbling detective Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) made an appearance.
However, it looks as if statistics about how teams with an early bye-week perform will take its place so there's still hope that I will become a twitchy mess.
While it would be nice to see the Vikings play again this coming weekend so it wouldn't feel like a fluke or like the Vikings got lucky because the Lions still know how to sabotage their own success, that is not to be. Instead we're staring down a bye-week and won't see the Purple play again until they take on the New York Jets on the road.
I'm trying to be hopeful about it, but that's still eleven days away and my post-win good vibrations could wear off by then. More concerning, the Vikings' post-win good vibrations could wear off too-considering how long it took to get that winning feeling back, no one wants to see it disappear.
In a game that had moments of both amazingly brilliant plays (like Brett Favre's touchdown pass to Percy Harvin or Adrian Peterson's 80-yard touchdown run) and amazingly ugly flubs (the Vikings committed three turnovers and 12 penalties), one of the greatest moments of the team coming together didn't exactly involve an actual play. Nope, it was a fight between Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill.
If you can believe it, Shaun Hill actually went after Jared Allen in the fight for the ball after a Brian Robison sack. Hill gets points for spirit, but not brains because Allen is big and crazy. It flashed me back to the time Lions offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus leveled his helmet into Jared Allen's knee back in 2008. Allen already had a third-degree shoulder separation and he came up from that hit to his knee hopping on his one good leg, swinging his one good arm, fully prepared to kick Cherilus's ass. If Ray Edwards hadn't gotten in Allen's grill and stopped him, he probably would have done it too. Allen is crazy, who picks a fight with him at all, let alone when he's healthy?
But Shaun Hill must have a good dose of the crazy himself because he came at Jared Allen, Allen refused to back down or take that, and in split seconds the field was swarming with Vikings and Lions players trying to either help embattled teammates or separate them. At one point Viking defensive back Eric Frampton was trying to pull Jared Allen away from half the Lions' team-a pretty funny thing to watch because Frampton is 5'11" 205lbs and Allen is 6'6" 270lbs. Really, it was like a six-year-old trying to take the Great Dane for a walk and it was just about that successful.
It's fairly likely that the league will mail out some fines this week, and they probably should, but that fight seemed like a much-needed tension-breaker for the Vikings. Even though the Vikings were leading by 14 points, they still seemed so tense and brittle that, regardless of the score, they didn't project a winning countenance. Considering the previous two games, it's possible that despite needing to win and having a lead, they didn't feel like winners.
However, stalking back to the sidelines full of righteous indignation, adrenaline, and relief only to be teased/congratulated by Brett Favre, well, it looked like the game stopped being about the Vikings' desperate need to prevent a slide to 0-3 and more about kicking some Detroit ass. It looked like football was fun again. Well, fun for the Vikings anyway.
After the bye-week when the Vikings get back to Winter Park and they prepare for their Monday night game against the New York Jets, let's hope that spirit is still with them. Or, we might get lucky and Mark Sanchez might try to throw a punch at Jared Allen in the first quarter. Hey, whatever it takes.