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The Favre and Peterson Show or A Tale of Two Teams

The preseason is over, the elation of the ’09 Vikings potential is wearing off and everything on the field counts now. With those thoughts in mind, I sat down with my beautiful wife and some wonderful friends to watch what I expected would be a complete dismantling of the Cleveland Browns by the Minnesota Vikings.

What we got was a team that looked hesitant, mismanaged and downright confused at times over the course of the first two quarters. The offensive line wasn’t doing Favre or the running game any favors, the defensive line certainly didn’t look like the best in the league over the last few years and the playcalling was every bit as vanilla as it had been last season. The QB-Receiver timing was poor, at best, and All-Day had only 25 yards by the time they walked off the field at halftime.

When Joshua Cribbs ran in a 67-yard punt return, I really wondered if this Vikings team had been reading too much of their own hype and were going to stand around slack-jawed and watch as the lowly Browns beat them soundly.

Now, don’t get me started on the poor officiating (the blatant hold that sprung Cribbs’ race for the endzone, the pass interference on Sydney Rice that almost resulted in an interception, etc.) because the NFL’s officials have long been the source of erroneously changed outcomes, so why should Kickoff 2009 be any different?

So, the Vikings head for the locker room, down by three to a team that shouldn’t even be able to think of a way to stop Minnesota, much less actually execute such a plan. The tone in my living room was a mixture of stunned disbelief and disgust. This was the Vikings year, wasn’t it?

Thankfully, in the visitors’ locker room inside the Cleveland Browns Stadium several voices echoed the ones in my living room. While I wasn’t a witness to what was said in there, whatever it was, the Vikings came out in the second half ready to charge the very gates of hell armed only with squirt guns and Gatorade.

Favre managed the game like the wily vet he is. Adrian racked up an amazing 155-yards and the defense held their own against Brady Quinn and his orange clad Browns (too bad my suggestion they rename their team the Minute Maids fell on deaf ears). By the time T-Jack took the field in the fourth quarter, it was all over.

While the second half was far more exciting than the first, it left me with several questions regarding our beloved Vikings. Is this team for real? Could the same guys that let the Browns take a lead to the locker room at half time face more daunting opponents with better results? What happens when Green Bay, Baltimore and the New York Giants come to town? How about when the Vikes travel to Pittsburgh, Seattle and Chicago? You can guarantee the Vikings of yesterday’s first half will lose all those games. But if the other guys in purple, the ones who charged onto the field for the second half and laid the smack down on the Browns, hit those other teams with the same intensity that halftime speech unleashed, then we’ll all be smiling come playoff time.

Unfortunately, right now all we can do is revel in a win and hope for more of the same from a team that’s still trying to gel. While we do that, I’d suggest we all take a minute to pray that those fifty-three men reach down deep every game and bring up the ferocity God put there and use that to clobber anyone who stands in their way. After all these years without it, the Twin Cities needs that Lombardi trophy and this team can bring it. Anything else is unacceptable.

Here's a final "Quick Hit": If Adrian Peterson could play against a Rob Ryan defense every game, he'd end the season with 2880 yards, 48 Touchdowns and one giant smile.

-Mike Bullock

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