Folks, I challenge any DN’er right now to tell me they’re a bigger “homer” than me. Prove it.
I’ll save you the time and energy. I have you beat. I just do. If you want to get into it in the comments, let’s roll. Ain’t gonna happen. I bleed purple. The doctors told me so. I drink the Kool-Aid so much I have a bad case of Vikabetes***. Like... Wilford Brimley level Vikabetes. They can almost do no wrong.
***I’ve also had a mad case of writer’s block, which has kept me from posting anything worthy on the DN in a loooong time. I apologize for that to all of you, the DN Faithful - and also to those in charge of the site (y’all lost money on me for a while now. I’ll make it up, promise.)
I can give you the exact second in the exact game that my Vikings faith deflated like a certain teams’ former home’s roof. October 28, 2018. Minnesota Vikings versus the New Orleans Saints. The Minneapolis Miracle rematch.
Going into the game - oh, ‘round about 4PM Central Time, October 28, 2018 - I had faith that the Vikings were going to beat the Saints.
Three game winning streak.
Beat the defending Super Bowl Champs in their building. Gained momentum versus the Cardinals. Thumped the hapless Jets. Everything pointing up, amirite?
The Vikings team - that was as close to complete as any team in purple that I’ve watched - after signing Kirk Cousins was about to show the world that they were legit. The Saints were playing better than almost any team in football at that point. But we could go toe-to-toe with them, no problem.
No Minneapolis Miracle needed.
The defense was finally rounding into shape after the Everson Griffen drama. The offensive line was going to finally hit “good enough”. JDF was the offensive answer to our prayers. Adam Thielen was the best receiver in football and was about to prove it. This was going to be a straight-up beatdown. In fact, the Vikings were about to go up 20-10, thanks to Harrison Smith’s interception of Drew Brees, which set the Purple up with great field position just outside the Red Zone.
And...uhh… then it happened.
Here’s how ESPN’s recap of “The Play” reads:
1st & 10 at NO 18
(1:11 - 2nd) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass short left to A.Thielen to NO 14 for 4 yards (A.Anzalone). FUMBLES (A.Anzalone), RECOVERED by NO-M.Lattimore at NO 13. M.Lattimore to MIN 33 for 54 yards (L.Treadwell). PENALTY on MIN-L.Treadwell, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at MIN 33.
1st & 10 at MIN 18
(0:57 - 2nd) (Shotgun) D.Brees pass short left to A.Kamara to MIN 1 for 17 yards (H.Hill, E.Kendricks).
1st & Goal at MIN 1
(0:30 - 2nd) Alvin Kamara 1 Yard Rush W.Lutz extra point is GOOD, Center-Z.Wood, Holder-T.Morstead.
Woah, woah, woah!
Waitaminute! We were supposed to be up 20-10 - with all the momentum, at home, with the team that we’d all been waiting to see. And just like that, we were down by four????
That’s the feeling I had at that exact moment.
That’s a two touchdown swing in three plays.
In the end, the Vikings lost to the Saints 30-20 - that 14 point swing was enough for New Orleans.
One lengthy return.
One stupid penalty.
All of it effectively ended the 2018 Minnesota Vikings’ season.
Every single piece of the puzzle that had begun to mesh together at that point suddenly felt meaningless and irrelevant. The team went from taking a ten point lead, all the momentum, and a little swagger into halftime, to playing back on their heels, waiting for the next big punch.
Yes, the next week, the Vikings absolutely obliterated Matthew Stafford and beat the Detroit Lions to head into the bye week on a positive. Dalvin Cook returned and looked pretty good. But anybody who watched the game could tell you that the Vikings were playing an inferior opponent. The Lions had absolutely no life, and the vibe going into the bye was definitely not a positive one - even for a Kool-Aid drinker like me.
So - for me, at least - October 28, 2018 was the day the season ended. Sure, hope and good faith kept me watching. But, I knew.
Deep down, I knew.