Monday, December 21, 2009

Sorry, Vikes fans, the sad truth...

The Minnesota Vikings will not win the Super Bowl this season.

No, it has nothing to do with their loss to Carolina on Sunday night. The Panthers played well, and deserved that win. The sad truth for Vikings fans is this:

Your team quit in the 4th quarter.

I don't know that I have ever said that about any team I have watched with my own eyes, but what I saw from the Vikings was something I had never seen before.

Carolina was blasting the Vikings every chance they got. Julius Peppers was on top of Brett Favre so much, he could have been part of the soon-to-be-hall-of-famer's uniform. It got so bad, Head Coach Brad Childress wanted to lift his starter for fear of him getting hurt. To Favre's credit (and yes, I have blasted Favre for his on-the-fence approach to playing or retiring), the guy hung tough and stayed in, convincing Childress he was fine, and just let him go.

Why do I say Minnesota quit? Factor this all in.

At the start of the 4th, Minnesota LED 7-6. The Panthers had the ball, and scored :11 seconds into the final 15 minutes. They couldn't convert the 2-point try, and then led 12-7. That's a 5 point game.

Over the final 14:49, the Vikings ran 11 offensive plays, and gained 94 yards. Remove the dump off to Adrian Peterson, that turned into a 63 yard gain in their final drive, and it's 31 yards on 10 plays. Hats off to the Panthers defense for their work.

The real issue is with that stout Vikings defense. Carolina, in the final 14:49, had 3 possessions (the TD in the opening minute of the 4th qtr was a continuation of a 3rd quarter drive, so I am not counting it). The numbers for drive 1: 6 plays, 77 yards, TD, 3:00 time of possession. Drive 2: 8 plays, 80 yards, TD, 5:01 time of possession. Drive 3: 4 plays, 12 yards, ballgame.

The Vikings defense was reduced to a shell of itself. The fearsome front 4 was being man-handled by, what is now, a patchwork offensive front. Geoff Schwartz replacing Jeff Otah at right tackle, Travelle Wharton shifted to left tackle a few weeks ago due to Jordan Gross' broken leg, Mackenzy Bernadeau in at left guard....didn't matter. Minnesota's Pat and Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and Ray Edwards only got minimal whiffs of Matt Moore's after shave. They were held in check, allowing Jonathan Stewart to go over 100 yards, and score a pair of td's. Moore misses 300 yards passing by just 3 feet, Steve Smith catches 9 balls, 157 yards and a td.

The body language on the Vikings defensive players was telling. Heads hanging, shoulders slumped, basically, they were beaten like drums. Again, it was a 5 point deficit with virtually the entire 4th quarter to play. Carolina slugged the Vikes in the mouth, and Minnesota wilted.

The NFC Champion will be New Orleans once the playoffs wrap up, and if Minnesota makes it to the conference final, watch for the first sign of adversity to turn the Purple People Eaters in the teh conference runners-up.

Mike Solarte

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