Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Last weekend of the NFL season. For the Minnesota Vikings, the task is simple. Win, and they clinch a playoff berth. Lose, and they still clinch a spot if one of two other teams loses too. If, however, the Vikings lose and both their immediate challengers lose, too…well, it’s deja vu all over again.
You seen this one before? Me too: it’s called the 2003 NFL season. The Vikings strolled into Sun Devil Stadium in Tempa, AZ needing only a win against the lowly, borderline inept Arizona Cardinals to sew up the NFC North division title and secure a home playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. With two minutes left to play the Vikings led 17-6. When the clock ran out the score was 18-17 Cardinals, and the Vikings had been eliminated from postseason contention. They’d led the NFC North from the opening game until the final play of the last game of the season…and in one fell swoop, it had all disappeared.
Fast-forward to 2004. The Vikings, losers of four of their past seven games, can clinch a playoff berth if they beat the lowly, borderline inept Washington Redskins. Or, if that isn’t enough, they can also clinch if either the St. Louis Rams or the Carolina Panthers lose their remaining game. How uncomfortable am I right now? The answer: very, very uncomfortable.
I should also point out the following eerie set of circumstances. Each of the Vikings’ three most recent epic collapses have occured within a four-day span of…
- My grandmother’s death (1999 NFC Championship)
- My epic breakup with Eva (2001 NFC Championship)
- My grandfather’s death (Vikings/Cardinals)
I’m knocking on wood even as I’m typing out this sentence, but…everyone in my family is relatively healthy and me and Brianna are as happy as two proverbial clams. But it’s only five days before kickoff. If anything changes in the next couple days, however, I’ll be sure to let you know–then hunker down as I await the inevitable implosion.