Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Not Very Satisfying

A win is a win. That being said, barely hanging on against a Lions team that is in disarray is not exactly one to get excited about. The thing is, the Vikings should have won easily. When they went up 21-6 on their opening drive of the second half, the game was basically over. Despite continually shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and sacks, that should have been the back breaker. The defense was dominating the Lions' offense and everyone at Ford Field was more interested in watching the fans with "Fire Millen" signs try and dodge security then the game itself.

Then, after forcing the Lions to punt on their opening drive, the Vikings inexplicably went into the prevent defense with 5:25 left in the 3rd quarter and a 15 point lead. Even the Lions can move the ball against a prevent, and promptly drove 71 yards for a field goal. All of a sudden, they were starting to get back into the game. It didn't help that the Vikings kept stalling their own drives with penalties and by getting stuffed for losses on running plays. (Obviously, penalties and going to the prevent with 20 minutes left in a game where you're only up by two scores are signs that a team is well coached.) After another drive that ended in a punt (one that squandered a roughing the punter penalty that knocked Chris Kluwe out of the game), the Vikings inexplicably stayed in the prevent. They didn't go back to the aggressive, ball hawking defense that had won them the last four games, but continued to let Jeff Garcia and something called Artose Pinner get huge chunks of yardage on every play. And after Artose Pinner scored a touchdown to make it 21-16, it was suddenly a game again. Of course, the roughing the passer penalty on Pat Williams that negated a 75 yard interception return for a TD by Brian Williams didn't help.

What the Vikings needed at that point was a nice long drive that ended in a touchdown, similar to the one that they had started out the half with. They almost got it. In keeping with the theme, however, it stalled after another penalty (You'd think that a team with a head coach who was a good offensive line coach would have a well disciplined line, wouldn't you?). And despite the fact that the Lions had 2:46 and two timeouts, the Vikings stayed in the prevent. And, of course, the Lions moved the ball. And they probably would have scored had Garcia not tried to force the issue with about a minute left and thrown a jump ball that Chavous intercepted.

I'm sorry, but a good, well coached team does not allow the Lions to stay in that game. They don't need a stupid decision by Jeff Garcia and a nice interception by Chavous to hang on, because they would put the Lions away by the end of the 3rd Quarter. The Vikings are neither that good nor well coached. Sunday's game against the Lions reemphasized that the Vikings' five game winning streak is largely an artifact of their easy schedule (and one fluke victory). Luckily for their playoff chances, their next three opponents are not exactly having seasons their fans are going to treasure forever.

No comments: