Did yesterday really happen?
Did the Minnesota Vikings really come back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Green Bay Packers? Did Paul Edinger actually hit a 56-yard game-winning field goal–only the second-longest final-second field goal in NFL history? Was that the same Daunte Culpepper who’d thrown twelve interceptions in the team’s first five games slicing open the Packers’ defence with disarming ease? And did Minnesota’s defence really stop the Packers on a crucial 3rd-and-short?
The answer is “yes” to all of the above–and in the process, the Vikings might have salvaged their 2005 season. Sure, there’s a long ways to go–their next game is on the road against Carolina–but yesterday’s game at least confirmed that the Vikings can actually play football. For the first time in the Mike Tice Era, there were faint signs of actual coaching. For the first time in over a year, Culpepper led a fourth quarter comeback; for the first time since…uh, since I can’t remember, actually, the Vikings shut down a quality opposing quarterback when it mattered most. (Brett Favre was lights out for yesterday’s first half, then hit a wall in the second. Of course, this didn’t stop the FOX broadcast team from constantly referring to him as “the great Brett Favre” or from pointing out time and time again, “You can’t defend a perfectly-thrown pass.” If you don’t believe me, ask Bri Johnson. And yet I digress.) Again, none of this really means anything if the Vikings don’t take the ball and run with it; they still need to win at least six games to have a shot at the playoffs and have a brutal remaining schedule (including road games versus Carolina, Green Bay, Baltimore and the Giants, plus home dates with St. Louis and Pittsburgh; if my math is right they’ll need to win at least two of those games). But yesterday was the first time it felt good to be a Vikings fan for a long, long time–probably since last year’s playoff game versus the Packers. Who knows? Maybe yesterday was their “Right Now” game; in the meantime, I’ll won’t write them off just yet.