Minnesota Vikings: Pants Around the Ankles
The Minnesota Vikings travelled to New Orleans hoping to chant their new mascot rendition of “Pants On the Ground” after winning the NFC Championship game Sunday.
Instead they returned home from New Orleans wearing their pants around their ankles after losing 31-28 to the opportunistic Saints in overtime.
The Vikings dominated the game against the Saints: They accumulated 217 more yards, the widest margin in NFC Championship history for a losing team, controlled the game clock for the majority of the game, (36 minutes to 24, excluding overtime), and held powerful Saints quarterback Drew Brees to just 17 completions and only 189 yards. As a team, the Saints had just 15 first downs for the entire game, three of them by penalty.
Brees, however, made the most of his opportunities, throwing three touchdown passes.
The Vikings dominated in nearly every offensive statistic, out-rushing the Saints by nearly 100 yards, and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre completed 28 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, the Vikings were victims of their own mistakes—no one, I think—will dispute they made mistakes, as the team committed six fumbles and veteran Favre threw two interceptions.
One of Favre’s interceptions came with less than 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and it denied the Vikings an opportunity to salvage the mistake-riddled game with a field goal attempt by generally reliable kicker Ryan Longwell.
Notwithstanding, the Saints capitalized effectively on many of the Viking miscues, particularly middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who had an interception and a fumble recovery, as well as forcing a fumble and four or five tackles.
As for the rest of the contest, my observations would include:
1) The Vikings' defense played their best outside the red zone. Inside the red zone, Drew Brees had his way, going 3-3. The Vikings' vaunted run defense allowed Pierre Thomas to run for nearly a ten yard touchdown. Actually, he made it look easy.
2) John Sullivan is no Matt Birk.
3) At our dinner table, we debated whether we should change Adrian Peterson’s name to Adrian Williamson.
3b) We also debated whether Jeremy Shockey, with his hair and tattoos, might be ready for a guest spot as a serial killer on "Criminal Minds."
4) I saw the Vikings attempt to blitz only once or twice all game. The blitz did not succeed. Was that why they used it only once? Because really the Vikings are not good at it? Because they don't know how? But, the Saints were only able to convert 3-12 third-down conversions. But the Vikings did not blitz, and the Saints put up 31 points. Evidently Leslie Frazier, who always seems to get a pass, felt they could deal with Brees using the same four-man rush that allowed Jay Cutler to dial up 36 points, a backup quarterback named Matt Moore, 27, and Kurt Warner, 31. For the record, the Vikings had one sack for the evening. The Saints scored 31 points. I report. You decide.
5) Officially, in the Vikings final four road games, they gave up an average of 31.25 points per game. Vikings fans are particularly sensitive about this. They think the defense is fine. Am I the only one who thinks that 31.25 points per game on the road is a not a good number?
6) Percy Harvin's fumble gave me a migraine. (Actually he is going to be a great player.)
7) If Brett Favre comes back, he should try practicing a few run and slides next year at training camp. You never know when he might some hit open field in front of him, and he could leg out a few yards.
8) I don’t blame the referees for anything. When you commit five turnovers, it is either sloppy and unfocused, or the other team is better.
9) The game reminded me a lot of the infamous 1999 NFC Championship game, where another player who got a pass, Todd Steussie, took a false start penalty that moved the Vikings back five yards and caused Gary Anderson to have to re-kick a field goal. You know the rest.
10) Finally, I have to give the game ball to Jonathan Vilma, the Saints' middle linebacker. He played a great game, and in my opinion, was the most deserving of the first star award. Congratulations, Jonathan, and best of luck in the Super Bowl.