It wasn't a work of art by any stretch of the imagination.
The Vikings were down by 14 points to the Lions, a team they hadn't lost to since 2001, and hadn't lost to at the Metrodome since Barry Sanders' second-to-last season (1997, if you're scoring at home). But they were, indeed, on the verge of doing just that. . .a loss that would, no doubt, send Minnesota's season spiraling downward.
But then, an amazing thing happened. The offense scored a touchdown! Yes, the Vikings' offense. At 30 years of age, I thought I was going to suffer my first heart attack. So the Vikings had pulled to within a touchdown with nearly an entire quarter left to play.
And then. . .another touchdown! This one was put up by the defense, natch. Pat Williams, a man who's probably not used to being completely unblocked, crushed Jon Kitna on the second play of the ensuing Detroit drive, and knocked the ball loose. Linebacker Ben Leber, pictured above, picked the ball up just short of the goal line, took one step, and found himself in the end zone. So the Vikings had tied the game at 17, and. . .
Wait, no. Not so much. After an offsides penalty by the Lions on the first PAT try, Ryan Longwell's kick was blocked by Jared DeVries. . .the same player that had been whistled for the aforementioned offsides penalty. So, rather than being in a tie game, the Vikings found themselves trailing, albeit by only one point.
After an exchange of punts (one coming on a Ryan Longwell pooch kick out of a FG formation), and another punt by the Lions, Brad Johnson managed to move the offense down the field and put Longwell (still the Vikings' offensive MVP) in position to add to the score. #8's 20-yard FG gave the Vikings a 19-17 lead with 3 minutes left.
From there, the defense took over again, like they had the entire second half. Eventually forcing the Lions into a 4th down situation, Kitna scrambled and was getting dragged down by Ray Edwards, when he tossed one up for grabs. . .right into the waiting arms of E.J. Henderson, who returned the pick 45 yards for the clincher.
WHAT WAS GOOD
The running game - Chester Taylor was kicking butt yesterday from the word "go." He finished with his best performance of the year, gaining 123 yards on 26 carries, and adding in 5 catches for 31 more yards. He didn't make it into the end zone, but he did manage to play really well.
The run defense - Here's a stat line from yesterday's game:
Jones (Det) - 10 carries, 8 yards
Yes, that's .8 yards per carry. POINT. . .EIGHT.
Add in Kitna's 8-yard TD run, and the Vikings' defense gave up a TOTAL of 16 rushing yards yesterday. As a team, they're now rated 4th in the NFL against the run.
The defense in general - Let's not neglect the rest of the defense here, as long as we're passing out praise. The Lions had 217 yards of total offense, and the Vikings sacked Kitna 5 times while forcing 4 turnovers. Napoleon Harris is turning into quite the middle linebacker in Mike Tomlin's defense.
We better enjoy Mike Tomlin while he's here. . .I've got the feeling he won't be here long.
Brett Favre crapping the bed in crunch time. Again. - Yes, not related to this game, per se, but it's always good to see.
WHAT WASN'T GOOD
The pass offense - Brad Johnson is a pretty good backup QB. Unfortunately, at the moment he's our starter.
It's clear that Brad, warrior though he is, simply can't make all the throws he needs to any more. He also can't get the ball deep. He threw two deep passes yesterday. . .one that got intercepted (granted, he did get hit as he threw that one), and one that missed Travis Taylor by a good 5 yards. The 3-yard checkdown on 3rd-and-8 is getting tough to watch.
Anyone that was clamoring for Brad to get a pay increase prior to the season, feel free to forward your apologies to myself and everyone else that knew better. Oh, and get ready to embrace the Tarvaris Jackson era, coming to an NFL stadium near you starting in September of 2007.
That's all from here, folks. Enjoy the rest of your Columbus Day, if you have the day off. If you don't. . .well, I'll enjoy my day off for you. (-:
And remember. . .bye week coming up this week. That dark time of the year that all football fans hate. I'll try to keep things entertaining around here in the meantime.