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MISSED OPPORTUNITES.

Thoughts by: Matthew Deery
www.DisputedKnowledge.com

Let me start off by saying that Sidney Rice is a beast, period. One would think his performance against the Ravens could not be topped as he pulled in 6 balls for 176 yards. Fast forward to last week against the Steerlers, he caught 10 passes for 136 yards. I'd say he topped his Raven performance. He really had an 11th catch which turned out to be a touchdown only to be taken away by one of the worst tripping calls by the referees I have ever seen.

The Vikings SHOULD have beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, exclamation point!

There is no way to describe this football game other than the title of this article. The Vikings missed or blew more opportunities in this game then I have seen since last year's team. The Vikings could have put this game out of reach against a very good team, the defending champion Steelers, in many different parts in football game.

The glaring failure by Minnesota was not the two red zone turnovers, but a 3rd quarter possession that made it all the way to the Steelers one yard line. How do the Vikings have first and goal on the one yard line and only come out with 3 points? The Vikings feature the best RB in the entire league and still can't punch it in? I personally believe the play calling is to blame for this disappointment. Bevell or Childress called two pass plays, and only one run play. Really, from the one yard line? I was watching the game with my father, and I told him over and over the rest of the game, "The Vikings needed to score a TD there, we are going to pay for that." What do you know...

Not to mention the 3rd and goal pass went to Jim Kleinsassser?? Someone needs to tell Favre, and tell him now, never to throw block hands Kleinsasser the football, EVER! He is a good blocker, but his pass catching abilities are that of Edward Scissorhands and I am disgusted anytime the Vikings waste a play throwing him the ball.

With a touchdown from the one yard line the Vikings would have only been down by 6 points with 1:00 left on the clock following the two red zone turnovers. Don't think for one second that the Vikings could not have scored in that last minute situation. They made it all the way to the Steelers 36 yard line, but it didn't matter at that point because they were down by 10 and not 6.
What a waste of a quality game turned in by most of the Vikings team (especially the weakened secondary), only to be wasted by a horrible call by the officials and two red zone turnovers to be returned for touchdowns. Two times the Steelers get turnovers in their own territory and run it all the way back for touchdowns? What kind of ridiculous blessing is that?

Don't get me wrong, the Steelers made those plays happen and I respect that. But any real football fan has to admit that a lot of luck is involved for two plays like that to happen and for two Steeler defenders to run 75+ yards untouched for touchdowns. Not to mention the strip on Favre happened on a 3rd and 8 that should never have happened because Sidney Rice made a great play to score and the refs took it way for a ridiculous tripping call on 1st and 10. So if the 3rd down never happens there is a 14 point swing, game over. The refs get reprimanded when they make bad calls, and I bet they will be getting a phone call from their boss.
I watch a lot of football, and I can honestly say I have never seen anything like that in my life. Two promising Viking drives that would put them on top terminated by a strip of Favre (not his fault) and a pass off Chester Taylor's hands that falls right into the arms of Keyaron Fox (also not Favre's fault). How could the Steelers get so lucky to be in the right place and time twice to return Viking turnovers for 77 yard and 82 yard touchdowns? A good defense might make plays like that two or three times in a season, but for it to happen twice in the 4th quarter? Even more importantly once on the "game winning" drive the Vikings had working with less than 2 minutes left on the clock, come on Chester.
I don't know about you, but when Adrian Peterson ran through William Gay like the Steelers cornerback was a 4th grade girl playing flag football in gym class I was 99% sure Minnesota was going to improve to 7-0. After the first huge turnover, the Vikings showed resilience and were still in position to win that football game.

Resilience took the form of soon to be Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin. He has shown that he is not just a fast or tough player, but a big time player who makes plays when it counts. I am sure Minnesota fans could never believe we would get a steal better than the 2007 draft when AP fell into the Vikings lap at #7 overall. Percy Harvin joining our roster as the #22 pick in the draft is by far a steal that surmounts getting AP. Twenty one NFL teams passed up this kid and now are kicking themselves.

IMPORTANT THINGS FROM THE GAME:
#1 Steve Hutchinson had a false start penalty. You must be thinking, "A false start penalty, who cares?" Believe this next piece of information or not, that was Hutchinson's first penalty in 27 games. I cannot even wrap my head around that. 27 games?! My hat is off to you Steve Hutchinson, Mr. Never-Gets-Penalties-football-plaaayer! (real men of genius, anyone?)

#2 The Steelers defense is definitely the best defense the Vikings have faced yet. If it wasn't for some bad play calling and unfortunate events (i.e. turnovers) the Vikings offense would have thrown a big number points-wise on the Steel Curtain.The offense also showed that even after a horrific turnover like the fumble return for a touchdown they can still bounce back and mount a drive, or return kick offs. Unfortunately for us the next promising possession also screeched to a crashing halt with an interception. But as I stated earlier, resilience is a trait our team has, and it is a very important one. A football team never actually believing they are out of a game no matter what happens is paramount. Every play is a new opportunity.

#3 The vulnerable pass defense held its own against one of the leagues fiercest passing attacks. Pittsburgh's two biggest threats Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward were held to 3 catches between them. Even the dangerous Heath Miller was held in check. He caught 6 passes but only netted 38 yards and no touchdowns. Pittsburgh scored 27 points and 14 of those came from well....you know by now. The Vikings defense held the Steelers offense to 13 points, which should fare very well against the Packers potent passing attack next week.

#4 Speaking of the Packers, Favre makes his anticipated return to Lambeau for the first time in a jersey other than green and gold. The ironic thing will be the hated purple jersey he will be wearing. Who would have honestly thought 2 or more years ago Favre would ever be a Viking?

An important stat from last weeks Packers/Browns game is the number of times Aaron Rodgers was sacked, 0. Granted stats versus the Browns are hardly an accomplishment, but the Packers have worked hard to protect Rodgers since the first match up. Go get'em again Jared.

#5 Bernard Berrian, E.J. Henderson, and Antoine Winfield have all been missing practice time this week because of injuries. I am sure E.J. will play because he only has a sore knee and he is a warrior. We all saw Berrian get hurt on Sunday, and this is the same hamstring that kept him out of preseason action. Not good. Antoine is almost a surefire absence on Sunday in Green Bay, especially with the prospective of the bye for week 9. We need Antoine healthy for the long haul, and his substitutes held their own against the Steelers. The Packers have some notable injuries themselves including: Jermichael Finley, Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, and Clay Matthews. Only Nelson is out indefinitely.

#6 Sidney Rice cannot be stopped by any cornerback in the NFL today. Favre and Rice are not only on the same page, but the same sentence so to speak. I always had confidence that Sidney could turn out to be a big time NFL wideout, and he has proven his worth with a quarterback like Favre. How about that sideline grab he held onto while being whacked by Troy Palamalu while still keeping his toes in bounds?
Legen...wait for it, DARY. Bring on Champ Bailey!

How about this equation: Pro + Bowl = Sidney + Rice

Sidney has 545 receiving yards on 33 catches. He is 7th in the NFL and 3rd in the NFC in yards. Only two touchdowns, (should be three!) so we gotta put him in the paydirt.


#7 Look for AP to rebound from his lack luster performance against Green Bay the first time around. I'm sure he cannot be pleased with being held in check by the hated rival Packers. AP proved he can have plenty of success against the leagues best 3-4 defense, the Ravens. Any observer could tell he was pumped up at the end of the Steelers game; look for that to carry over into this important NFC North battle. We need a big game out of him to take some pressure of Favre's shoulders, and he knows it. Just for one of my faithful readers Mitch, I am going to predict The Diesel finishing with over 100 yards...hopefully a couple touchdowns.


3 VERY IMPORTANT THINGS FROM WEEK 7:


#1 The Bengals gave any team playing the Bears this year the recipe to destroy their defense. Pass first, run second. The Bears secondary is so weak. Favre and his arsenal of wide receivers should have no problems picking apart their heralded Cover 2 scheme that is a shell of what it used to be. Carson Palmer threw for 5 touchdowns by the 3rd quarter! The Vikings need to follow suit with a heavy passing attack when we play Chicago. After the Bengals jumped up to a huge lead, the started pounding Cedric Benson down the Bears throats. The Vikings also have to play this amazing Bengals offense Week 14.
#2 The Saints look impervious to anything a NFL team throws at them. They have not even had a close game yet. There closest game was their 12 point over the Dolphins this week, and the Miami wasn't even the best team the Saints played. The Saints showed some Vikings type resilience against the Dolphins this past week overcoming a 21 point deficit to stay perfect. The Saints have outscored opponents 238 to 127. Their defense allows points, but they score so much and so often it doesn't matter. Not looking forward to seeing them in the post season.


#3 The Giants lost again. They lost to the Arizona Cardinals, who are also and upcoming foe for the Vikings. The Giants looked like the best team in the NFL (arguable obviously) through the first 5 weeks and now have dropped 2 straight. The Giants secondary is greatly weakened by injuries and the Vikings has an opportunity to take advantage of that on Week 17. The Cardinals have rebounded with three straight victories after looking nothing like a 2008 Superbowl team the first three weeks of the season. Just another NFC opponent for Minnesota faithful to worry about.

Any thoughts?

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