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Vikings Win on Paper, Lose on the Field… or Not.

For anyone watching the game yesterday, including thousands in the stands at the Metrodome, the Vikings lost long before the clock hit zero in the fourth quarter. The defense couldn’t seem to stop Vernon Davis, Favre should have been picked off at least three times, Peterson was unable to find daylight and these were the same old Vikings who just couldn’t catch a break.

Or were they?

After seven straight go routes, the electric Percy Harvin came out of the game for the last play. In to replace him was the oft-maligned Greg Lewis, the man who was signed to take the role vacated by the questionable release of last year’s best receiver, Bobby Wade.

With Bernard Berrian blanketed, Visanthe Shiancoe neutralized, Sydney Rice removed and Favre under pressure, Lewis was the Vikings only hope of snatching victory from the jaws of certain defeat.

And, snatch it he did.

In prime Favre fashion, the old man summoned up some of that old magic and fired a laser beam into the back of the end zone for a leaping Greg Lewis, who amazingly came down with both feet in bounds.

Not sure if Wisconsin, Iowa or South Dakota felt it or not, but I really think the entire state of Minnesota erupted in screams of joy when Lewis landed with the rock held tight and two seconds left on the clock. I know 49ers coach Mike Singletary felt it, because the air that powered it was sucked right out of his lungs, officially deflating his team’s sense of accomplishment at beating a team that was better on paper.

For the last few weeks, the one question on the lips of Vikings fans has been “Can we beat a good team?” Well, the answer came yesterday. And with it came validation of exactly why Favre was brought in, and to a lesser extent, why Lewis was signed. There’s still a lot of head scratching about Wade’s sudden release, but I wouldn’t undo it now if I could.

Looking forward, the Vikings must now learn to make a complete game of things. Week one brought a near perfect running attack, week two a solid offensive effort in the second half, and week three showed the Vikings can win in the final seconds – and pass for over three hundred yards while doing it.

But, in order to beat the hated Packers, the team must put all those things on the table at once. Make no mistake, Green Bay isn’t the Lions, Browns or even the 49ers. They’re the cream of the NFC crop and if the Vikings want to hold the pre-season distinction of Superbowl contender, they must bring it to Monday Night Football next week. The team effort displayed in weeks one through three won’t get it done.

But, for now, it’s Monday morning, Brett Favre just pulled a rabbit out of his purple hat and all is well in Viking land. Enjoy it. It’s the calm before the storm…

-Mike Bullock

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