It is the rare individual who is able honestly to say that they have not felt cheated out of precious time at some point in their life. And while many things rank much higher on a scale of events that deprive one of livable moments, few things combine the robbing nature with voluntary participation the way my viewing of the Patriots' mauling of the Vikings on Monday night did.
Give me a bowl of sweet, crispy grapes and I'll eat them all even though I know that, right around the corner, there will be a hefty price to pay. I understand the trade-off and except it every time it confronts me. In its entirety, the transaction is a net gain for me--more positive than negative.
Unlike the bowl of grapes, however, watching the Vikings submit to the Patriots had all of the downside of a painful experience with none of the upside associated with voluntarily partaking in an activity with, at a minimum, a downside of time spent. And the three hours spent only further called into question my decision.
After spending yet another first half killing an early game deep drive and settling for no points while also ceding an improbable 17 points to a team intent on showing Mike Tomlin why sagging corners and slow safetys don't cut it as a recipe for a pass defense against a credible quarterback, the Vikings stormed out of the lockerroom for the second half only to do more of the same.
For the game, the Vikings amassed 284 yards--on par with their season performance to date. That was good for exactly zero points, however, as quarterback Brad Johnson had fans reminiscing about Daunte Culpepper's final season in Minnesota. With three picks, all of them brutal decisions, Johnson removed any prospect that Minnesota had of staying with the Patriots.
But as dubious as was Johnson's performance on Monday night, the Vikings' defense and special teams coverage were far more inept. Laurence Maroney averaged 45 yards on two punt returns--one with the game still theoretically in reach for the Vikings if the defense would only return two or three picks for TDs. Punt returner Kevin Faulk chipped in a 29-yard punt return for good measure.
Defensively, the Vikings were non-existant and looked as bad as at any time during last season's lopsided losses to Carolina, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. The Vikings gave up 25 first downs, 430 yards of offense, mostly in the first three quarters, 345 passing yards, and looked rudderless.
One of the most telling statistics from the game is one that ostensibly favored the Vikings. For the game, the Vikings had the ball 30 minutes and 15 seconds to the Patriots 29 mintes and 45 seconds. Yes, that's thirty minutes, nearly 300 yards of offense, and zero points.
One drive, in particular, summed up the Vikings' offensive performance. Starting at New England's 45-yard line, the Vikings ate up a healthy 6:38 of game time, but moved the ball a mere 40 yards in twelve plays culminating with interception number one. Astounding.
Worse yet is the fact that the Patriots required virtually no time to score, cutting through the Vikings' sagging, Gopherlike defense with abandon. No Patriot scoring drive took longer than 3:57, despite three drives of 74, 86, and 93 yards.
Overall, it would be a night to forget. But the Vikings' offense is looking less and less comptetent over time--even allowing for the outburst in Seattle. That's an issue that even a soft schedule will not mask.
Up Next: APBs on Bryant McKinnie, Marcus Johnson, Artis Hicks, Fred Smoot, and Dwight Smith.