Ugly Teams Have Feelings Too: I realized after the final clock ticked a Minnesota Vikings win over the Arizona Cardinals, 21-14, that I've been writing all season trying to find out what kind of a team – EXACTLY – this 2012 Vikings team is. What's the offensive identity? Who are they on defense? Are they hard nosed? Do they like to take their shirts off, REALLY, or do they tease? These are complicated questions.
More and more I've found myself leaning towards a truth that says "These dudes don't know yet." That is equal parts frustrating and equal parts exciting, equal parts ugly chick at the prom dance and buxom blonde getting banged by the gym teacher. You know who I'm talking about! It's frustrating because it means that we get stuck in an offense that doesn't know how to throw 10 yards down the field during any portion or situation of the game. It also means we have a defense that, when up by even seven points in the fourth quarter, will play scared on their heals, drop into an archaic Cover-2 prevent and let other teams score on them and make games closer than they should be.
On the other hand, you get Purple Jesus bursting through holes in a power running game. Kyle Rudolph acting a beast in the red zone. Percy Harvin being God's gift to Purple Jesus to Earth. A defense that hits, makes plays, sacks people like they're Santa's bags, and coaches who make correct calls. Frankly, it ends up being a mishmash of hopes and dreams, trouble and heartbreak, fists through walls and high fives in the air, and – so far – five wins and two losses.
Point being, if this dysfunctional, young and confused team that is trying hard but still searching for themselves decides they want to go 11-5 on the season (extrapolating here), I am totally OK with that. Just imagine what they'd look like when they finally get smart to each other.
Mushroom Stamp of Approval: If everyone is being honest here, the real hero of this game was Purple Jesus. Without his 150+ yards and a touchdown, this team doesn't win. We don't get the yards for Percy's touchdown later (which was also BALLS by the way), and we don't eat clock and keep a horrible Cardinals team off the field.
However, yards don't equal points, and for that we needed cracker-ass rookie Harrison Smith to step up to the plate. His third quarter interception return for a touchdown was not only his first interception of his career, but obviously his first score too, and the first interception returned for a score by the Vikings since 2010 finale. Without it, the Vikings would have found themselves in a close game again, as the Cardinals waltzed down the field to score in the final minutes like other teams have on us all season. But Smith's big play there (as well as his five tackles and one pass defended) helped seal the W. For that, and for finally being an awesome safety on this Vikings team after so, so many depressing season, Smith gets this week's Mushroom Stamp of Approval!
Was This a Good Win? After seven weeks in the season, you can usually get a pretty good gauge on what teams are solid and which ones aren't. The Cardinals were a team that started off 4-0 on the year, and did so in semi-impressive fashion. Remember when they beat the world eating Patriots in week two? That sounded like a big deal then, but the Pats have shown they are vulnerable this year, so I'm not sure how great that win was anymore. Likewise, the Cardinals' win over the Eagles and Dolphins to get them to 4-0 don't seem super impressive either, just … kind of mediocre. Because then they go on to lose to the Rams, Bills, and now Vikings. Some of these teams may end up in the playoffs (Patriots, maybe Eagles, Bills?, VIKINGS!), but most probably won't. Which means the Vikings beating a team like this, while nice, probably isn't very impressive. I don't think anyone really considered the Cards to be NFC Champs this year, but being totally shut down by this team on offense is a bit disturbing, now too. I don't know. WE NEED MORE RESULTS FOR A PROPER SAMPLE SIZE! I so desperately want to define the 2012 Vikings and really, I should just be enjoying the season (as Mike Tice would say). I'm a moron.
Purple Jesus, Y'All! Let's preface this by saying that it hasn't been a full year since Purple Jesus had his knee put through a potato ricer, and he's already been back out on the field now for seven games and already has 650 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Not bad. However, it's pretty exciting to know that there is SO much more left for him to get back to as well, and he'd tell you likewise. And not saying that he hasn't been great this season, considering everything, but I would agree with him. There are so many times when it looks like he has hit a gap and is going to put on after burners and speed for a 70 yard touchdown, but then he gets shoelace tackled. It's aggravating, because I know he can do it. But he's close man, real close. The cuts he showed on the touchdown run? Good lord, I think I threw my back out because my groin area was spasming so hard in delight. That was fantastic, and was just further example of how deeply I love that man. THERE, I SAID IT. I'M NOT EVEN ASHAMED.
The IT List: Depending on whether the team wins or loses, we compile a SHIT or IT list of players (or franchise related people and things) that really affected the team in the last week. Since we won this week, we'll be doing the IT List and take a look at a group of people that made my abs smile:
– Harrison Smith (Competent white guys!)
– Percy Harvin (Competent black guys!)
– Purple Jesus (Competent deities!)
– Antoine Winfield (Little scamp just keeps making plays like a BAWS)
– Brian Robison (Jared Allen WHO, amirite?!)
– John Skelton (Thanks for not being that good!)
Notes and Nips: Lots of other items to cover from this game, so let's wrap on our panty mask breathers and dive in:
– I believe that Jerome Simpson now has three deep throw, pass interference calls on him, and zero actual caught deep thrown passes. If that's all he does for this offense … I guess I don't really care. It still serves a purpose.
– LOL, was ready to murder Marvin Mitchell after that block in the back to start the game! Never do that again, dick elbow.
– Ponder wasssnnn't very good. 58 yards? Who is this, Tavaris Jackson? His accuracy was way off, too, and that interception to end the half? Who can I blame so I can start throwing poop at them? Ponder or Musgrave? Listen, jerk faces, you have to stop this turn over crap, alright? It helps no one. But the other team, I mean.
– Seven sacks by the defense?! This is the type of game that will make Jared Allen apologist cream their pants!
– I can't stress enough how much I hate the way this team plays defense to end close games. Attack someone, please, especially an inexperienced quarterback that sucks and pressure him into more mistakes. Don't just keep the big play from happening if you're going to let the little play happen for a touchdown anyway. Blows, mah, mind.
– It's also funny how all the fans, after the first four games or so, were bitching about Ponder not throwing the ball downfield or taking chances, are now ready to not let him throw the ball at all during a game because he's … YUP, taken chances and thrown interceptions. Make up your mind, people. You can't have a girl who's smart, attractive, and NOT crazy.
– No Kyle Rudolph? Cool! I'm really glad I started him over Gronkowski this week. *Shoots self*
"Skol, Vikes, let's win games!
Skol, Vikings, let's employ one
Whatever. Maybe I'm just nitpicking. The Vikings still won and have a legitimate chance to get to 6-2 on this season (which just … what?! Who would have ever, HONESTLY, thought this would ever happen?) when they play a bad – but still dangerous offensively – Buccaneers team this Thursday night. Thursday Night Football? Sounds kind of sexy. Let's do it. See you then, folks.