It's pretty hard to put a shine on this turd, or lipstick on this pig, or whatever analogy you want to use to try and put a positive spin on a terrible performance. Because there really isn't one. That sucked, in every way, shape and form possible.
But I have a confession. The result of this game was my fault, and the debut of Christian Ponder was my doing.
Let me explain.
See, as many of you know, I am an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, and on Sunday, I had a Sports Karma choice to make. I am a firm believer that as a sports fan, what you wear, where you sit, and what coozy/drinking cup/food you eat or drink you drink is about 75-80% in determining whether or not your team wins or loses.
And rule 1 of Sports Karma is that you never...EVER...allow two lucky jerseys/hats from different teams to be worn simultaneously while said teams are playing important games, as the positive karma from both jerseys/hats will cancel out one another and will end up hurting both teams in the long run. That is a proven scientific fact.
So as a fan, you must choose.
I was faced with this dilemma, which really sucked. See, game 6 of the NLCS was supposed to start at 3 PM Central, with the Vikings game at 7'ish. I had my Pujols jersey and Cardinals hat ready to go, and after game 6 the plan was to go upstairs, make a quick change into the Peterson jersey and the worn out Vikings hat (which I had broken out for the first time last week--Vikings win--NOT a coincidence, by the way), and walk over to my Dad's with the sixer of Leinie's Sunset Wheat in hand. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
And then the Sports Gods intervened. And they made me choose. The Gods of Baseball changed the start time of game 6 to 7 PM, a direct conflict with the Vikings game. Do I choose the Vikings, or the Cardinals? I was flummoxed.
And when one chooses, the first and only criteria that matters is Sporting Magnitude and length of fandom. How big, how important, is one game over the other, what are the ramifications if you choose incorrectly, and how long have you been a fan of said teams? And length of fandom is important, as the Sporting Gods abhor bandwagon fans, and will punish the abandonment of loyalty over the affront of a quick sports fix every time.
Hmmm. Nationally televised NFL Divisional Game where the Vikings can come within a half game of third place in the division vs. the National League pennant. 40 some years of Vikings fandom vs. 8 years of hardcore Cards fandom, along with another 20+ years of secondary Cardinals fandom (Dad used to live in Cards country when I was a kid, and followed them for several summers when I visited, as there were no other teams on TV in the era before cable and satellite, and I always kept tabs on them).
With a heavy heart, sort of, I grabbed the Pujols jersey and Cards hat and asked the Gods Of Sports a simple request:
"Please, if the Vikings are to lose because of this choice, let some good come of this, like the Christian Ponder era beginning."
In a way, the Sporting Gods rewarded me on both fronts. I knew going in I was asking for a Weekend Sports Trifecta (Ohio State unexpectedly beat Illinois, so the Sunday double whammy was a longshot), but because I firmly believed that The Sports Gods looked upon me with favor because I didn't ask for too much, my humble request was granted.
The Cardinals won the pennant, and the Christian Ponder era began for the Vikings.
It was a tough choice, but in the long run, I think it was the right one.
Well there's a rose in a fisted glove,
eagle cardinal flies with the dove,
and if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with.
SMR, after the jump.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Christian Ponder, QB: Did he airmail a couple of throws? Yes. Did he look tentative? No, not really, at least not to me. Was he running for his life? Yeah, for a good part of the night, but at least he looked mobile and agile. And was it me, or on every completion did he hit his receiver in stride, other than that 20 yard floater to Percy? Which was a sweet throw under pressure, by the way. If there's a silver lining to this ass kicking, it's that we have the hope of Ponder moving forward, so that's something to build on, I s'pose.
Percy Harvin, WR: Percy finally seemed to get something going tonight for the first time in a few weeks.
Other than that, I got nothin'.
Michael Jenkins, WR: Had a few nice catches, including one after Ponder came in to the game.
I can't think of anything else. If you guys got something, let me know. I'm willing to grasp at any straws right now.
The Offensive Line: Adrian Peterson had nowhere to run early. Donovan McNabb was sacked in the end zone for a safety. Julius Peppers has become Minnesota's own personal Idaho. If Christian Ponder didn't have this thing we like to call in the business 'mobility', he would've been killed as well. Phil Loadholt got hurt, John Sullivan got a concussion, and collectively, the Vikings line had their ass handed to them. Gotta call this the low point.
The Defensive Line: I really thought that the Vikings would turn Jay Cutler into a pinata, much like the Bears ended up doing to the Vikings. No, not really. The Bears offensive line, which has looked about as good as a 300 pound chick in a mini skirt, transformed into five Hall of Famers this evening, and other than a Jared Allen sack/fumble/fumble recovery early in the third quarter, did virtually nothing all night long. Terrible, just terrible.
Buy: Playing Ponder. I was happy to see Christian Ponder look good, for the most part, in his debut. Based on what we saw Sunday night, it's time. It was a good move to bring him in when he did--the game was out of hand and the Vikings had nothing to lose. But going forward, they have everything to gain.
Sell: Waiting Three Weeks Too Late To Play Ponder: Which is why I don't get Ponder not playing until now. The competitive phase of this season, at least in terms of getting to the playoffs, realistically ended with the loss to the Lions, so it seems that the Vikings have been just spinning their wheels atthe QB position the last couple of games. Better late than never, I guess.
Buy: Jim Kleinsasser Catching The Ball. a four yard catch from Jim Kleinsasser is as exciting to me as a three run home run by Albert Pujols, even in a blowout. I'm not even kidding.
Sell: Bernard Berrian Catching The Ball. Knowing that Bernard Berrian is on the roster is as exciting as an IRS audit for me. His 5 catches came long after the game was decided, so pardon me if I'm still not impressed.
Buy: Leslie Frazier As Coach Long Term. I think the Vikes made the right choice in Leslie Frazier. He navigated treacherous waters as the interim coach last year and came away with some inspired wins. With the lockout and no ensuing OTA's or minicamps, he's had to play catch up a lot more than other coaches have had to.
Sell: Frazier's Coaching Performance in 2011. Do you remember what got Brad Childress canned last year? A lot of people think it was the Moss fiasco, but it was two back to back lackluster performances, at home, against the Packers and Bears, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Vikings just laid an egg against a division rival, with their season essentially on the line. I'm not saying Frazier's job is on the line, but I do think it's safe to say that we were expecting more. So give us more, coach.
Don Glover Quote Of The Day:
Me (after Donovan McNabb threw yet another pass in the dirt): God, McNabb is terrible.
Dad: He's beyond terrible. He's worse than beyond terrible. And quit changing the goddamn channel back and forth. The Cardinals are kicking the hell out of the Brewers. At least something in Wisconsin is getting their ass beat.
So now we turn the page and look towards Packer week. I'll be a lot more excited if Ponder will be the starting QB.