I know that it wasn't spoken about much on this site, but before yesterday's game, the Vikings were still "alive" in the playoff race with at least a mathematical possibility of claiming the NFC North crown. We needed a lot to go our way (even more than last season when we snuck into the playoffs on tiebreaker rules), but if Detroit was to lose their last 4 games, and Chicago and Green Bay were to win only 1 more...AND we won out, it was still possible. Somewhere near the end of the 4th quarter we had a 12-7 lead, Detroit was destined to lose and I have to admit, there was a voice in the back of my head that thought, "We could win this...and still have a shot at the playoffs." And just now, I realized, I forgot to knock on wood (sorry, everyone).
The ending to the game yesterday was definitely one of the wildest, most roller-coaster-esque scoring fests that I've ever seen. In the final 3 minutes of the game we saw 36 points put up by both teams. And in the end, we came out of it the loser. It sucks. Like most of you my emotional roller-coaster went something like a lot of live twitter feeds out there. But rather than sift through the hundreds of thousands of live tweets about the game, our very own open thread provided plenty of fan reaction. I've selected some of the best fan comments from the open thread that, in my opinion, accurately sum up our thoughts (feel free to scroll past it if you don't want to relive it). The team had gone up 12-7 early in the 4th quarter on a TD pass to Jerome Simpson and subsequent failed 2-point conversion and after trading several punts, Baltimore marched down the field to score a late 4th quarter TD to Dennis Pitta to go up 14-12. With 2 minutes and 5 seconds left in the game, Minnesota got the ball back...and then this happened:
Im still scared about the def tho
I think we did that way too fast....too much time on the clock.
wow .. tell me that didnt happen
Special teams mega fail
Straight Flash Homie!!
I THINK MY BRAIN JUST BROKE!
SKOL! CP ALL DAY!!!
Wow. Now don't blow this kickoff!
This is such a rollercoaster...
I cannot believe it
that is bullshit no interference
Worst refs I've seen in years
A Vikings tradition at work!
longest 10 seconds in the world
The way the game has gone today
Makes me think we should use every pick on d this spring.
So, my apologies for making everyone relive this moment, again. But, I did for one reason: we have the best Vikings fans on the internet here at the Daily Norseman. We encapsulate what it means to be a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. We all felt the ups and downs of this game together, and it is what binds us all regardless of background, where we live, our politics, religion, race, etc. I've never met any of you in person (I don't think!), but we share a common bond. And as miserable as it may be to be a fan of a 3-9-1 team, there is something to gain here.
The future. We are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Our final three games of the season will be largely "meaningless" to many fans, but they won't be meaningless for the players and coaches who are battling for their livelihood. They are battling for contracts, job security and legacies. They won't just lay down and give up, because they still have something at stake. No, we won't be going to the Super Bowl anytime soon, but we can begin to shift our attention to what happens next. We currently hold the #4 draft pick, and that will most likely change before the season is over. A top 5 pick seems pretty likely, and at this point I hope we do get a Top 5 pick. We need help at a lot of positions: quarterback, nose tackle, linebacker, cornerback, safety, and offensive guard. We've needed help at a lot of positions for the past 2 seasons, and we've gotten it. I'm excited about the future of the following young players who have shown a lot of promise in their 1st or 2nd year as starters:
And don't forget about those veterans on the team who will more than likely be back and looking to improve and get to the playoffs: Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, John Sullivan, Brian Robison, Jerome Felton and Phil Loadholt. There are a lot of other guys on the team who will be using these last three games to justify why they should be resigned by the Vikings this offseason, or why they shouldn't be cut: Jared Allen, Jerome Simpson, Everson Griffen, Chris Cook, Erin Henderson, Chad Greenway, Charlie Johnson and Jamarca Sanford.
I don't know if Leslie Frazier and his staff will be here next year. Rick Spielman took advantage of the 1-year option in his contract after the Vikings make the playoffs last year, which means technically, Frazier is signed for 2014. I know many of us here would like to see him go. Personally, I'd like to gut most of, if not all of the coaching staff and start over. At the very least, we should get new coordinators on offense and defense. But who would want to sign with Leslie Frazier knowing he would be in a lame duck season if he's kept? I think you either keep everyone, or fire everyone.
Hopefully we can use what will surely be a Top 5 pick and an extra 3rd from the Harvin trade to leverage an elite quarterback of the future as well. With a bona-fide talent at QB and a respectable coaching staff, this franchise might have a fighting chance. And if this team wins their final three games, that will make that scenario much more difficult. So now that there is no shot at the playoffs, it's all about the silver lining of a loss. It's about looking ahead to the future. While I am not advocating that the team actively try to lose their games (tanking is still dumb), I won't be upset if they lose their final three games, because those losses will serve us better in the future. Imagine if we hadn't lost that Redskins game with Joe Webb 2 years ago heading into the 2012 Draft. Could we have had a legitimate shot at a quarterback like Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck instead of Matt Kalil? We find ourselves in an eerily similar position again this season. It's all about the future, and looking for the silver lining my friends.