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Percy-verance

Archie
archambault.mn@gmail.com

By now, Vikings fans are well aware of the team's well-circulated drama off the field. ESPN seemed to lead off every episode of Sportscenter with an update on whether coach Childress will keep his job following the waive of Randy Moss and the reported displeasure by Viking's ownership on Childress' decision to cut the All-Pro wide receiver and the team's underachievement thus far. Reporters locally and nationally have heavily criticized the team all week long. Despite the negative attention surrounding the Viking's organisation, the team was able to come out on Sunday and manufacture a win against the Arizona Cardinals. I won't go any further into the negativity swirling around Eden Prairie right now. For the moment, let's focus on the positives.

Specifically, I'd like to highlight the performance of Percy Harvin on Sunday.

First, I'll take you back to the beginning of the week when Harvin expressed disappointment regarding the release of WR Randy Moss. Harvin had got along well with Moss and looked up to him as a mentor. Harvin was also unable to practice Wednesday and Thursday and was severely limited on Friday due to a bothersome ankle sprain.

Tensions were at a high on Friday when coach Childress and Harvin got into a shouting match at practice and had to be separated from each other. Coach wanted an MRI on Harvin's ankle, though Harvin refused, later saying “We had a little dispute. Me and coach are fine. It was about whether I was going to get an MRI or not.” Harvin did have the MRI on Saturday morning and it revealed no significant damage had been done to his ankle, thus clearing him to come out and play on Sunday.

And it was a game he'll always remember. The kid caught nine passes for 126 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, both career highs for Harvin. He looked to be running on all cylinders with the ball in his hands, though it was clear that Harvin was bothered by the sore ankle as he was slow to get up after several tackles.

The low point came on the 2nd half kickoff, which Harvin returned for a short gain but had the ball stripped from his hands, allowing the Cardinals to retrieve the football and run it in for a score. “They did a great job stripping the ball out” Harvin said. “I just have to have better ball security.”

If Brett Favre is the captain of this ship, Percy Harvin is his first mate. The tandem first showed terrific chemistry in the 2009 season and so far this year that chemistry has strengthened. Harvin called Sunday's performance the best game of his short career. Brett Favre contributed by throwing a career-best 446 passing yards and in doing so may have turned the ship around. If the Vikings can continue to play at a high level and persevere through the next two weeks, with games at Chicago and hosting Green Bay, we may have a very interesting 2nd half of the regular season on our hands.

Falling Behind

The Minnesota Vikings battled hard across the border in Green Bay, Wis. Sunday night against the Packers, but were unable to take advantage of a 4th quarter final-minute scoring opportunity and lost 28-24. The Vikings (2-4) look ahead next Sunday to the New England Patriots (5-1), but must first look in the mirror and find an identity the team can claim as it's own. Is the team one “of almosts” as Jared Allen put it, or is it one that “will” win a championship in this Super Bowl-or-bust season?

In the early goings of this one it looked like the game plan of the Vikings was to run the ball effectively and to sustain drives by converting on 3rd and short situations. That strategy worked effectively against the Packers, as Adrian Peterson finished with 131 yards off 28 carries and a score. Brett Favre played mistake-free football in the 1st half and the Vikings took a halftime lead into the locker room. But the team came out with a different identity in the 2nd half and disaster struck. Favre's play suffered severely. He threw 3 INTs in the 2nd half, two of them right into the hands of Packer defensive players almost as if he thought they were his own wide receivers. Could it be that Favre's senility made him believe he was a Packer again? His age must really be catching up with him. The turnovers resulted in 14 points for the Packers. Favre has 14 turnovers on the year.

Highlights come in no short supply for the Vikings offensive side of the ball. Against the Packers, the Vikings were able to use their young play makers Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson to run the ball into the end zone for two scores. On the game's final drive it appeared that Percy Harvin made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone for the win, however official review determined he did not get both feet down before going out-of-bounds. Randy Moss contributed with his 15th TD against Green Bay in 15 games on his career and his 2nd TD catch in as many games as a Viking.

The Vikings were in a position at the end of the game to win. A 63 yard drive got the team down to the 10 yard line with a minute to go, but crucial penalties against the Vikings backed them up to the 30 yard line and spelled L-O-S-S for Minnesota.
The Vikings sit at 1-2 in the month of October, which is arguably the toughest portion of the team's schedule. A terrifying match-up in New England on Halloween awaits. Which Viking team will show up to play, the ghastly helpless squad we saw for quarters 3 and 4 Sunday night or a team with a purpose and the competitiveness to defeat an NFL powerhouse like the New England Patriots? Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

The IMossible has Happened

By Brandon Merrill

Back in 2004 when Randy Moss was making his exit out of Minnesota, Vikings fans everywhere were heartbroken to say the least. He ended up playing for a terrible organization in the Oakland Raiders (well anyway a team that has little implications in the Minnesota sporting world). After several sub par seasons there, the idea of becoming a Packer and joining Brett Favre came into play. As a die hard Vikings fan, you would think that I would absolutely hate that very notion, but I must say that it may have been entertaining to see how the two would mesh. As we all know, Moss ended up playing for the Patriots, but that final question still remained. What if? What if the best wide out in the game teamed up with the best QB to have ever graced the gridiron?

Ask and thou shall receive. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf once again comes through in fine fashion and gives the fans what they want. Many are saying that this is more of a move of desperation by giving up a 3rd round draft pick to hire a “play when he wants to” wide out in the wake of finding a temporary replacement for the injured Sidney Rice. That is a sound argument, but Randy Moss wants to play for an organization that appreciates him, and I can tell you with a record of 1-2 and no deep pass threat, he will be more than appreciated.

Others argue that the Vikings are overly catering to Favre and giving him whatever he wants for his presumably last season. The pay increase and now Moss are signs of that, and maybe the Packers organization dodged a bullet in having to deal with that by signing Aaron Rodgers. What is clear with a slew of decent receivers, the man they call Favre can make magic happen on the field. With veteran Randy Moss on the team, this is not another dime a dozen move like Javon Walker or Hank Baskett. We have hired some real talent; a player who we know firsthand can play like no other.

You cannot stand there with a straight face and say that no improvement has been made with this deal. For starters a couple of people get put back into their comfort zones with the acquisition of Moss. Percy Harvin is back in the slot, Visanthe Shiancoe can focus on being a tight end, and not a receiver, Adrian Peterson will have more open running lanes, and defenses will have to plan for a deadly deep threat. Let us not forget that Sidney Rice will be back at some point. Do you remember the 3 Deep Crew in 1998 of Cris Carter, Jake Reed, and Randy Moss? That trio could make any quarterback look incredible. With Harvin, Moss, and Rice doing what they do best, I think it will make for a spectacular rest of the season. Oh yeah we also have Adrian Peterson, and Visanthe Shiancoe.

Finally, what this move should also do is be a serious morale booster for the entire squad. Yes the Vikes built some momentum with the victory over the Lions with Adrian Peterson having another breakout game, but they did that going into a bye week. Did they need the rest? You bet, and this move should force the rest of the team to wake up, the offensive line especially, and realize that they have the tools to comeback and make a serious Super Bowl run. Expect harder hits, faster play, and a protected QB Monday night and beyond for that matter. The naysayers claim that owner Zygi Wilf is running the team with a “Super Bowl or bust” mentality, and for the life of me I agree. Who, though, ever said that that was a bad thing?

No matter what happens, I think we will all be entertained and you can thank good ownership for that. Next season if we resign Peterson and Moss, I see no reason for a top flight quarterback to look our way if and when Favre decides to throw in the towel. The end goal of any professional sports organization is to win, but also to entertain the spectators, and I am as excited as I was last year upon hearing about Favre coming to MN. How could you not be ecstatic? This Monday Night you get to see “Purple Jesus” go deep to the “Super Freak” beating Darrelle Revis (again), watch how the Jets will crumble to a newly lifted offense, and see Jared Allen do a new sack celebration. I would guess if we are up by a huge margin late in the game he may still go down to one knee for no one other than you the fans.

Punch Up with Detroit at the Dome

by Skol Girl

On Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings beat the scrappy Detroit Lions 24 to 10 at Mall of America Field it was as if Vikings fans everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief. Gone were the dire predictions of what happens to teams that start the season 0-3—and not a moment too soon. Honestly, if I had to listen to another rousing rendition of “They’re Completely Screwed If They Start 0-3” statistics I would probably develop a twitch like Herbert Lom’s character Inspector Dreyfus did in the Pink Panther movies every time bumbling detective Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) made an appearance.

However, it looks as if statistics about how teams with an early bye-week perform will take its place so there’s still hope that I will become a twitchy mess.

While it would be nice to see the Vikings play again this coming weekend so it wouldn’t feel like a fluke or like the Vikings got lucky because the Lions still know how to sabotage their own success, that is not to be. Instead we’re staring down a bye-week and won’t see the Purple play again until they take on the New York Jets on the road.

I’m trying to be hopeful about it, but that’s still eleven days away and my post-win good vibrations could wear off by then. More concerning, the Vikings’ post-win good vibrations could wear off too—considering how long it took to get that winning feeling back, no one wants to see it disappear.

In a game that had moments of both amazingly brilliant plays (like Brett Favre’s touchdown pass to Percy Harvin or Adrian Peterson’s 80-yard touchdown run) and amazingly ugly flubs (the Vikings committed three turnovers and 12 penalties), one of the greatest moments of the team coming together didn’t exactly involve an actual play. Nope, it was a fight between Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill.

If you can believe it, Shaun Hill actually went after Jared Allen in the fight for the ball after a Brian Robison sack. Hill gets points for spirit, but not brains because Allen is big and crazy. It flashed me back to the time Lions offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus leveled his helmet into Jared Allen’s knee back in 2008. Allen already had a third-degree shoulder separation and he came up from that hit to his knee hopping on his one good leg, swinging his one good arm, fully prepared to kick Cherilus’s ass. If Ray Edwards hadn’t gotten in Allen’s grill and stopped him, he probably would have done it too. Allen is crazy, who picks a fight with him at all, let alone when he’s healthy?

But Shaun Hill must have a good dose of the crazy himself because he came at Jared Allen, Allen refused to back down or take that, and in split seconds the field was swarming with Vikings and Lions players trying to either help embattled teammates or separate them. At one point Viking defensive back Eric Frampton was trying to pull Jared Allen away from half the Lions’ team—a pretty funny thing to watch because Frampton is 5’11” 205lbs and Allen is 6’6” 270lbs. Really, it was like a six-year-old trying to take the Great Dane for a walk and it was just about that successful.

It’s fairly likely that the league will mail out some fines this week, and they probably should, but that fight seemed like a much-needed tension-breaker for the Vikings. Even though the Vikings were leading by 14 points, they still seemed so tense and brittle that, regardless of the score, they didn’t project a winning countenance. Considering the previous two games, it’s possible that despite needing to win and having a lead, they didn’t feel like winners.

However, stalking back to the sidelines full of righteous indignation, adrenaline, and relief only to be teased/congratulated by Brett Favre, well, it looked like the game stopped being about the Vikings’ desperate need to prevent a slide to 0-3 and more about kicking some Detroit ass. It looked like football was fun again. Well, fun for the Vikings anyway.

After the bye-week when the Vikings get back to Winter Park and they prepare for their Monday night game against the New York Jets, let’s hope that spirit is still with them. Or, we might get lucky and Mark Sanchez might try to throw a punch at Jared Allen in the first quarter. Hey, whatever it takes.

*This post is also available at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under the name Skol Girl and at http://chinspeaks.wordpress.com/ under my alter ego P.M. Chin.

Minnesota Vikings Mix blog featured writers Mike Zimmerman, Elizabeth Creehan, Rob Leath, Brandon Merrill, Skol Girl, Kudo's Korner
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