Well, as we all know, the purple played our division rivals from the Windy City about as tough as they could have without winning this past Sunday. I know I predicted a loss in this one going in, so I'm not terribly upset that we lost. . .I mean, I was, don't get me wrong. . .but I didn't feel any real anger or anything over this loss.
What I felt was more of a feeling of. . .disappointment. Why? Because while I didn't expect us to win. . .by God, the Vikings had that game won. They looked like the better team for about 58 minutes of a 60-minute game. And then, right after the two-minute warning, Minnesota's old defense showed up for one play, and that was all the Bears needed.
We're 2-1 after 3 games, which I'm happy with. . .but man, it was so close to 3-0. Ah, well. . .can't win them all, I guess.
A few thoughts from this weekend's game. . .
-First things first. . .the play calling on the last two Viking drives was nothing short of completely atrocious. Seriously, let's take a look at this. . .
**3rd and 5 with about 4 1/2 left on the clock. Draw play to Mewelde Moore. The play SHOULD have been stopped for a 2-yard game, but MeMo put up a superhuman effort to get 8 yards and a Vikings' first down. The Vikings get lucky, and keep the momentum.
**2-yard run by Taylor, after which the Bears burn their second time out, leaving them with 1.
**3:35 left on the clock, 2nd and 8 from the Minnesota 43, and Brad Johnson hands to. . .DROPS BACK TO PASS!?!? Sweet Christ, what the hell would you do that for? He throws incomplete to Williamson, which stops the clock after running off a whole 4 seconds.
What a stupid call this was. Line Tony Richardson up behind Kleinsasser and those 2 guys we're paying $98 million to over the next 6-7 years, hand the ball to Chester Taylor, and either a) make the Bears burn that last time out, or b) run another 40 seconds off the clock.
**3:31 left, 3rd and 8 from the Minnesota 43. . .and Tommie Harris completely pimp-slaps the Viking offensive line, forcing a fumble that the Bears recover. Why? Because he said he got the read that we were running a trap play. And we were.
Again. . .sweet Christ, why?! If you're going to finally be smart enough to go with a running play here, just hand the damn ball off and don't run a play where so much crap can go wrong. Slam it into the line, bring Kluwe in to punt and pin the Bears deep, and let your defense. . .which has been kicking ass ALL day long. . .win the game for you.
(Man. . .I think that's the first time I've typed that as a Viking fan in about a decade.)
After the 2004 Vikings defense shows up long enough to let the Bears score the go-ahead TD, Williamson gets a nice return out to around the 40-yard line. It gets to 4th and 2 near midfield, and rather than run something to just get us a first down. . .Brad throws a 30-yard pass to a double-covered Troy Williamson over the wrong shoulder. Incomplete. Game over.
Which leads me to my next point.
-This offense HAS to start playing better. Yes, I know. . .we played 3 great defenses over the first 3 weeks, blah blah blah. Take a guess at how long it's been since the Vikings scored an offensive touchdown. Go ahead. . .you do the math, and I'll wait.
Give up? It's been 152 minutes of football since the Minnesota Vikings last scored an offensive touchdown. Yes, the Vikings offense hasn't put up a 6-pointer since Marcus Robinson hauled in a Brad Johnson TD pass at the 9:38 mark of the third quarter against the Redskins back in Week 1.
I don't care what caliber of defenses we've played. 9 1/2 quarters of regulation football (plus half an overtime period) without an offensive touchdown sucks. It sucks hard. It sucks a great deal. Our defense has one since then. Hell, our SPECIAL TEAMS has one since then. Our kicker has thrown as many TD passes this season as our quarterback.
If this team has aspirations of anything greater than backing into the playoffs and getting destroyed by one of the NFC's elite teams, the play of the offense has to get better. This "getting into the red zone and settling for field goals" crap has to come to an end. Field goals don't win championships. . .and most times, they don't win football games, either.
-I love the heck out of this defense. Yeah, Grossman threw for almost 300 yards on Sunday. . .it took him 41 attempts to get what he got, and the Vikings probably could have had another interception or two. And Dwight Smith was all over the place against the Bears. Heck of a game for #24.
Right now, through 3 games, the Vikings rank 12th in total defense (10th against the run, 15th against the pass) and tied for 11th in points allowed (16 points/game). That's better than anything we've seen for a long time. For the first time in a looooooooooooooooooooooong time, the defense is carrying this team.
That's all for now, folks. . .I've got a 30th birthday to continue celebrating, and possibly the first ever DN.com music review as early as tomorrow.
Last thing. . .congratulations to the Minnesota Twins for officially clinching a playoff spot on Monday. What a season it's been for the Twins after they were left for dead after the season's first two months.