Sunday afternoon brought me Downtown Minneapolis to the Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles Wild-Card playoff game. This was the first football playoff game in Minnesota in eight years, and the first for me as a season ticket holder.
I met Bury and Iggy at Sneaky Pete’s much later than originally planned, but knowing I wasn’t drinking, there wasn’t a lot of motivation to arrive at 11am to be around a ton of drunk people; I had three hours of that to look forward to at the dome. Both myself and Brian were lucky enough to find parking on the street for free, saving a minimum of $20 each. We left SP early with hopes of beating the masses to the dome. One comment: as useful as the Metro Transit Light Rail is, during peak times (ex: sporting events), entering and exiting the rail is a complete mess. Any small kid or small adult has little chance against people my size or larger. However, it is worth the $1 you spend to get a 6-hour ticket which covers you round trip.
My analysis of the game: the Vikings offensive minds, Coach Brad Childress and Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell, did not use quarterback Tavaris Jackson how they should have. He is not a pocket passer; he’s mobile and has the ability to keep defenses on their heels with a combination of his legs and arm. He misfired on 18 of his first 29 passes, most of which came within the hash marks. The Vikings offensive minds also showed very little amount of ‘new’ in their scheme. Other than one breakout run by Adrian Peterson, and one drive of substance, the Vikings offense was unimpressive. Another odd moment occurred at the end of the first half; the Vikings had just intercepted Donovan McNabb, and with 1:08 left, the ball on the Vikings 10 yard line, there wasn’t much to do there other than kill the clock and go into halftime with a two-point deficit. They chose to run the ball on first down for a 2 yard gain, then inexplicably pass the ball incomplete to stop the clock, then ran the ball on 3rd down for no gain allowing the Eagles to call time out before the punt to give themselves an opportunity to move the ball in field goal range. Fortunately, the Vikings stopped the Eagles from scoring before halftime.
The Vikings defense was ‘bendy’ for a lot of the game, but did have a nice interception by Cedric Griffin, a sack and caused fumble by Jared Allen. The Vikings line sorely missed DE Ray Edwards and DT Pat Williams, rarely getting any pressure on McNabb; he was able to slice and dice the Vikings defense throughout the game, converting on at least three 3rd down plays longer than 8 yards.
The big difference in this game were the big plays and capitalizing on them. The Eagles had the 44 yard interception for a touchdown by Asante Samuel; the 71 yard touchdown pass by McNabb to Brian Westbrook, a 62 yard punt return which led to a field goal and a 34 yard reception on another key 3rd down which led to a field goal, both by DeSean Jackson. The Vikings had the 40 yard run by Peterson, the interception by Griffin (which they did not capitalize on), and the fumble recovery by Fred Evans (which they did not capitalize on).
Overall, the game was entertaining, and not in doubt until the middle stages of the 4th quarter. I’m glad I’m not the type of fan that requires facepaint, or my body painted (which Bury saw a guy getting painted in one of the bathrooms… weird) to feel like a real fan. Sure, I’m a little bummed about the outcome, but this won’t effect my mood. Remember, it’s just a game and entertainment.
It was a different experience for me for a couple reasons: it was a playoff game; the intensity was there, the crowd was as loud as I’ve ever heard it, and I was sober throughout the whole game. The 09 resolution to attempt sobriety has been somewhat easy to do, and this weekend was a huge test to see if I could actually do this sobriety thing. So far, so good.
This caps the sports weekend extravaganza. There won’t be another opportunity to see three different professional sporting events in three nights in Minnesota for a long while. To be in the position to have the opportunity to do something like this is quite remarkable; I’m a very lucky person.
I go back to reality tomorrow, working for the first time since December 24th, and that was a half-day with a two-hour lunch. I’m very interested to see what will happen in the next couple weeks in the office.