Well, now we know what the cost was going to be of me getting all four games right two weekends ago: the comedy of errors that the Vikings put on yesterday. If you had told me that the Vikings would hold the Saints to 257 total yards and put up 475 total yards of offense themselves, I'd have thought there was no way that Minnesota wouldn't be in the Super Bowl. Well, except for the fact that I know you like to see me in pain.
Before the game, the Fox NFL crew made picks regarding the game, and someone (Bradshaw maybe?) said that he thought the Vikings had the better team, but picked the Saints to win because of "fate." I mentioned to a friend and fellow Vikings fan that I thought that was a pretty flimsy reason to pick a team, but it certainly seemed like things were stacked against the Vikings, a sentiment that came to a culmination on the Saints' overtime drive, the only possession of the overtime period (don't get me started).
The Saints earned their way to midfield on a great kickoff return and a holding penalty on Minnesota. After incompletions on first and second down, Drew Brees found Devery Henderson for a nine yard gain. The spot of the ball didn't seem to be in question by anyone, but the review officials called for another look, presumably to see if they could find a way to give the Saints a first down. They couldn't. On fourth and one, Pierre Thomas lunged over the pile and appeared to be right at the first down marker. I know I was watching the game with purple and yellow blinders on, but on review, it seemed that he was stopped short.
On the next play, Ben Leber was called for a phantom pass interference penalty because the Saints receiver fell over backpeddling to try to find an uncatchable ball. It was literally the worst pass interference call I've seen all season. But the Vikings weren't done. Leber came back on the next play and stuffed Reggie Bush for a five yard loss, pushing the Saints to what would be a 51-yard field goal attempt. On third and fifteen, Brees found Robert Meachem for a 12-yard gain, but upon review, the ball appeared to bounce up off the turf, suggesting that he may not have had complete possession of the football. While it was a difficult call, the right call was to acknowledge that when the ball bounces up, the receiver hasn't got control of it. New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley hit a pedestrian 40-yard field goal to win the game, and leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
But realistically, the Vikings didn't earn the victory any more than the Saints did. While the Vikings' defense did a fantastic job in stifling one of the most potent offenses in football, the offense put the ball on the turf SIX TIMES, losing three of those fumbles, and they couldn't have lost them in worst spots. Twice they fumbled inside the Saints' 10-yard line, and Percy Harvin's fourth quarter fumble gave the Saints the ball on the Vikings' 7-yard line, and led to a Saints' score.
By the way, the box score will tell you that Brett Favre fumbled the ball once, but that fumble should be attributed to Adrian Peterson, whose arms seemed to refuse the ball at the Saints' 4-yard line. Overall, Favre had a good game, and it's a shame that he'll be remembered for the one big mistake pass at the end of regulation that was intercepted, rather than the great plays he made all game, and all season, to give the Vikings a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Hope he's back next year. And somebody call Tom Coughlin, get him to help Peterson like he did Tiki Barber. Shit, fire Brad Childress and hire him, maybe he wouldn't send twelve guys into the huddle off of a timeout to push your team out of field goal range.
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