With a week off and a 1-7 team coming to the
Metrodome Mall of America Field, the Vikings should have completely dismantled the Detroit Lions.
Though the score suggests a blowout of sorts, it was anything but. A string of mistakes, including 13 penalties, two fumbles, and a couple of questionable coaching decisions, kept the Vikings from generating a margin of 30 points or more.
And it actually gave the Lions a chance to win the thing.
At times, it seemed that the Vikings were trying too hard to get future opponents thinking about wrinkles that might be added in the future. A double-reverse play, with Adrian Peterson sweeping left and flipping the ball to rookie receiver Percy Harvin, killed an early drive. Later, the failure of Peterson to wrap up while being caught from behind by cornerback Philip Buchanon allowed the ball to be punched out, resulting in a halftime score of 10-3 instead of 17-0.
Detroit drives were extended by boneheaded penalties like offsides on a punt when the Vikings weren’t really trying to block the thing, and defensive end Ray Edwards launching himself like a makeshift scud missile into the head of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Really, the game remained in doubt until the first play of the fourth quarter, when Brett Favre unfurled a 56-yard rainbow to receiver Sidney Rice, who caught the ball at the Detroit four and rolled into the end zone. (It appeared that Rice wasn’t touched, but coach Brad Childress kept the red flag in his pocket. We wish he’d get his contract extension already; maybe then he’d be less afraid of screwing something up.)
The star of the show was Rice, who had 201 yards receiving. It prompted NFLN’s Deion Sanders to declare on GameDay Final, “Favre to Rice is starting to look like Montana to Rice.”
Though it remains to be seen whether Sidney Rice can play like Jerry Rice without Favre on the team (indeed, Sidney played more like Condoleezza Rice in the days pre-Brett), it’s working well for now — and will continue to do so for as long as Favre is a member of the team.
But if Favre’s first season in purple is going to extend into an 18th or 19th game, the Vikings need to learn how to reduce the blunders, and to deliver the knockout blow to bad teams long before the final 15 minutes of the game.