Without Winfield, The Vikings Are in Deep Trouble

Andy RAnalyst IOctober 21, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 14:  Antoine Winfield #26 of the Minnesota Vikings kneels on one knee during a break in NFL game action against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 14, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona. The Vikings defeated the Cardinals 35-14. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Along with many other fans of the Vikings this past Sunday, I watched as Joe Flacco lit up a terrible defense play after play. Upon further inspection, I realized that the same player was giving up big plays time and time again, Karl Paymah.

I looked hard at the TV trying to see the number of the players on the Vikings defense. I couldn't find good ol' No. 26 anywhere. I thought to myself, "Where did Winfield go? Did he get hurt? Maybe he had a family emergency to attend to."

Not once did the announcers mention anything about Winfield's absence, but it became clear very fast.

Karl Paymah couldn't stop anything. Part of me wondered whether it was even worth it to have him on the field. He not only gave up a huge touchdown with his back to the play, he couldn't tackle to save his life.

The defense looked dreadful. They gave up two huge runs after shutting the running game down in the first three quarters. They couldn't tackle or deflect any pass.

It was almost as if the Ravens had told every player on the Vikings defense, "You guys won! Congratulations! You can go home now. We'll just shower and get on the first plane back to Baltimore. Pack up your things and head to Pittsburgh. This game is over."

The Vikings defense said, "Okay!" and walked off the field as the Ravens put up 21 points in under six minutes.

"Hey!" the Vikings defense squeaked. "You guys lied to us! The game isn't over yet!"

Well, they had me fooled too.

I thought the game was over. Up by 17 points in the fourth quarter with no sign of the Ravens showing up to play, I was sure Favre and Peterson would again be sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the game. But it all happened so fast.

We know how the story ended, but a new chapter could potentially unfold this Sunday when the Vikings take the field without their heart and soul, Antoine Winfield.

While no official announcement has been made, the purple warrior will likely have to sit a week and prepare for a slugfest in Green Bay.

One could easily tell it was not the same defense without Winfield.

Not only was Winfield injured, but backup cornerback/nickelback Benny Sapp was injured too. He was playing off and on, but repeatedly left the field because of a head injury he suffered in the early minutes of the game.

But please GOD do not make me watch Karl Paymah go up against Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Paymah wouldn't stand a chance and Roethlisberger would have a career day.

I will say this. If Winfield does not play, the Vikings have very little chance at pulling off a 7-0 record by the end of Sunday.

I think the offense is more than capable of putting up some big numbers, but the defense needs to show that they can live without its Pro Bowl cornerback for one game.

It could be an ugly game Vikings fans. Let's just hope that Winfield is near 100 percent and a massively improved Benny Sapp is ready to go.

SKOL VIKINGS...urgh...


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