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2nd Half Strikeout

Like many games so far this season, the Vikings had another thriller of a 4th quarter. In a marquee matchup versus the defending Super Bowl champion, Pittsburgh Steelers, the boys in purple had three prime opportunities to take the lead and close out the game for good. Unfortunately, things didn’t finish up like MN fans have grown accustomed to as of late with the Steeler’s handing the Vikes their first loss of the 2009 NFL season.


Perhaps the best chance the Vikings had was the first and goal series that started inside the Steelers 1-yard line in the 3rd quarter down 13-7. When you have the best running back in football, a monstrous offensive line, and at least four chances to stuff it in for six, it kind of makes you wonder how that drive ended with a field goal that was a shorter kick than an extra point attempt. Why not take another opportunity on 4th down to come away with a touchdown with the worst case scenario resulting in the Steelers offense starting at their own goal line? Needless to say, the conservative play-calling from Childress continued and our first real chance to take the lead slipped away. Strike one.

The next breakdown occurred after an impressive drive that began at the Vikings own 3-yard line. The Vikings methodically marched down the field, taking nearly eight minutes off the clock. This time, the team was killed by poor calls from the officials. On a third and 18, Sidney Rice made a beautiful 25-yard catch on the sidelines for a first down, clearly planting both feet in bounds before being shoved from behind by Mr. Polamalu. The officials ruled ‘no catch’ and a peeved Childress immediately threw the red challenge flag. The call was overturned, but the challenge shouldn’t have even needed to happen in the first place. And it didn’t end there. Later in the drive, Favre connected with Sidney again, this time for a touchdown. This would have given the Vikings that much-needed lead, but the play was nullified by a tripping call on backup tight end, Jeff Dugan. The replay showed Dugan taking out linebacker James Harrison with a low block that resulted in Harrison going airborne. There was no tripping involved, but the damage from the penalty had been done and the Vikings were forced to have another crack at a score. Two plays later on 3rd down, Favre had the ball slapped loose and a very excited LaMarr Woodley scooped it up and scampered 77 yards the other way for a touchdown and the first major counterattack by the Steelers D. Strike two.

At this point, most of us were too disgusted to even think about what needed to happen for us to have a legitimate shot at coming back. The only way we might have a chance would be to gain some momentum back through an equally big play as the fumble TD. No sooner had this though crossed my mind than our rookie sensation, Percy Harvin, turned on the afterburners and outran all 11 of the Steeler’s special teamers on the ensuing kickoff for an 88-yard return score. And just like that, we were all given another dose of false hope.

After a quick offensive series for the Steelers, the Vikings got the ball back with a little more than 3 minutes remaining and were looking like they’d make it another last second nail biter. It was during this drive that the best “Dear God!” moment of the game went down. AP got a short pass from Favre coming across the middle and absolutely plowed over cornerback, William Gay. The destruction that was unleashed on this play even made Steeler fans giddy. Down 17-20 at this point, the Vikings moved the ball to the Steelers 19 with about a minute to go. The play calling again comes into question as a screen to a usually reliable Chester Taylor was set up, only to have the ball bounce off the hands of Taylor and into the lap of linebacker Keyaron Fox who ran with a cloud of Steelers defenders for an 82-yard slap in the face, putting the game out of reach for good. Strike three, you’re out.

You can chalk up the loss to a number of different meltdowns by the Vikings offense. Every time there was the slightest mistake made, the Steelers defense countered and countered fast. It’s tough to enter Heinz Field and leave victorious even with a perfect record in the mix. Overall, it was not a poorly played game by either team. Sure, there were certain plays that could have and probably should have yielded different results, but this is the world of sports and nothing is a given. It’s time to start planning for next week when the Vikings travel next door to Green Bay to square off against a dangerous Packers squad that’s reeling to even the score.

-- Ryan Fortune

3 comments:

  1. Great review, well written, and with comedic relief thrown in every once and awhile to cool the nerves of those Viking fans still upset about the loss.

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  2. Yeah, that was a hard ending to watch. Nice review, though.

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  3. Good work man. The refs hurt us bad. We should have won that game though.

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