Ah, sports fans, welcome to Minnesota, a magical place where anything can happen and it even snows in early-ish October.
The Twins pulled off an exciting series of wins to get into the postseason by the skin of their teeth, only to lose their postseason momentum with three straight losses to the Yankees. The Timberwolves managed to draft Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio, but then weren’t able to sign him. The Minnesota Wild have started their first season under new coach Todd Richards to very little fanfare and, possibly, less public attention than catfish noodling and trout tickling. And, the Minnesota Vikings, in a move that surprised and shocked, fought off the emotional letdown that inevitably followed their big Monday night win over the Green Bay Packers to win convincingly, if not perfectly, yesterday over the St. Louis Rams.
Being a fan rather than a journalist or player or analyst, I can maintain a starry-eyed optimism for my team that has nothing to do with history or reality, but even I wondered how the Vikings would do facing St. Louis after their highly hyped victory over the Packers. I don’t want to say I had doubts, but I wasn’t brimming with confidence either.
The game against the Packers was thick with emotion for two big reasons. First, Brett Favre was facing his former team for that awkward first time since he was unceremoniously dumped. Second, if the Vikings are going to make a deep play-off run, then they absolutely had to prove that they can win within their division. And they did.
So it wouldn’t be surprising if after such a crucial game there was an emotional letdown. And the tendency to coast. After all, the Rams hadn’t won a game since some time last season.
Despite the Vikings’ tendency in previous years to play to the level of their opponents (bad or good), the Vikings pulled off a decisive victory against St. Louis. It wasn’t pretty, but it also wasn’t a nail-biter. Adrian Peterson was held to 69 rushing yards, something that used to mean the Vikings were going to lose. But now, with Brett Favre dishing the ball out to just about everyone on the offense with hands (and twice to opposing defenses), Peterson doesn’t have the pressure to save the game all by himself. While the Vikings defense has not been as stingy against the run as they were last season, they have more turnovers to their credit than any other team. No matter what kind of skills a team may have running the ball, it is difficult to amass points if you can’t keep your mitts on the ball. And, I was thrilled to see that the Vikings decided to rest their starters in the fourth quarter when they were leading by three touchdowns instead of during the first half when they were trailing the way they did during the first two weeks.
These are the kind of things that give me hope for my Vikings because they seem to show consistent progress and momentum and that we weren’t drinking tainted Kool-Aid when we said this year’s team was built to go deep in the play-offs and maybe even win a championship. The next three games are likely to provide the strongest test of just how good and how resilient this team is. Baltimore, Pittsburg, and Green Bay should be challenging and it will be interesting to see if the Vikings continue to hone and improve their play they way they have with less feisty opponents. But here’s to hoping and believing anything can happen and knowing that starting 5-0 is not too shabby. It is also still more interesting than the rest of the Minnesota sports scene, including catfish noodling.
This article is also posted on vikingsmix.com under the screen name Skol Girl. Check out vikingsmix.com for more news stories and blogs about the Minnesota Vikings than you can shake a stick at.