Minnesota's Miracle at the Metrodome Can't Mask Vikings' Flaws
Brett Favre, you magnificent graybeard, you've done it again.
You completed barely 50 percent of your passes. You threw ducks that should've been intercepted; you threw an interception. You missed receivers, you settled for field goals, and you looked like the aging fighter most people pegged you as.
And absolutely nobody cares about that now, because you won.
With 1:29 on the clock and no timeouts, Favre led the Vikings 80 yards for a game-winning touchdown the whole world has seen by now. Journeyman Greg Lewis—who was signed for special teams purposes and was only playing because Percy Harvin was exhausted—made the catch of his career by dropping his feet between a defender and the end line.
None of it should have happened.
Favre and the Vikings were supposed to fall on their faces. They deserved to lose to a 49ers team that could gain only 246 total yards after losing Frank Gore during the first series of the game. The Vikings were going to hand a win to a team that went 0-for-11 on third downs.
Phil Loadholt had already packed his suitcases and ordered a ticket for the midnight train, where he would leave town in the middle of the night with his tail between his legs and his head hanging low.
Loadholt and Anthony Herrera couldn't hold the right side of the line. Outside of a 35-yard run—which Adrian Peterson created when he ran away from a broken play—the running game was nonexistent, totaling 26 carries for 59 yards.
John Sullivan was driven backwards 90 percent of the time, collapsing the pocket throughout the game. Effigies of him were going to be ablaze during the multiple rallies and protests in the streets of Bloomington today, presided over by deacons, and we would all yell "Burn!"
The most die-hard of Vikings fans would be thinking of ways to slip steroids into his morning coffee and/or afternoon tea—and everyone would be saying they miss Matty Birk.
The line did nothing to help for the first 58:40 of the game, but the worst of the bile would be directed at Tarvaris Favre himself if he had not pulled that throw out of his bag of tricks.
Favre was playing like every detractor had hoped he'd play like. Sloppy throws, inaccurate throws, lazy reads, etc., etc., he did it—against a team that does not have nearly the talent the Vikings have.
However, the 49ers should be considered the favorite to win the NFC West right now if Gore can return quickly and stay healthy. That is the truth and would be more obvious today if 3-0 was sitting next to their name.
Unfairly, their record is 2-1 today. Or maybe it is fair. While the Niners deserved to win, and most certainly did not "choke" away the game, they also did not win the game.
That is all that matters today.
While the Vikings did win the game, they have problems to rectify in the coming weeks if they want to be considered a serious threat to win the Super Bowl.
The offensive line is problem one. Special teams has given up a couple of big returns and allowed that miserable blocked field goal on Sunday (thankfully, Percy Harvin's kick return touchdown canceled that out). The pass defense allowed Shaun Hill to lead a 49ers comeback, something that seemed impossible prior to the game.
Adrian Peterson also needs to get more than 21 touches. That's just science.
But for now, they are 3-0, riding high, and we still have no clue how good this team can be.
The Vikings have had three good halves in their three games this season; the second halves against Detroit and Cleveland, and they got a good half of football in somewhere during their weird game Sunday.
If they ever put together four straight quarters of their brand of football, there's no reason to think they won't be in the hunt for the NFC Championship.
But even though they're 3-0, and everyone is understandably giddy about the Miracle at the Metrodome, the Vikings still don't look like the Super Bowl contenders they claim to be, because a Super Bowl team would not have been in that situation.
A Super Bowl team would have dug their cleats in the throats of a team that lost its best player; they would have given the ball to the best running back in the NFL and let him go to town behind a supposedly good offensive line; and they would not have needed a 39-year-old quarterback to throw the ball 46 times.
Luckily it's only week three, the Vikings are undefeated, and they have room to improve.
Now all they have to do is improve.
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