Holler: Vikings saved season; now what?

The Vikings rebounded with their own late heroics, giving them at least a chance to be relevant in the second half of the season.

Coming off one of the more impressive late-game comebacks, as we hit the midway point of the Vikings season, one can only wonder how different things could have been.

Even without Adrian Peterson, the centerpiece of the Vikings offense, the Vikings could be 4-4 at this point of the season and looking to build a more dominating defense that can carry the team into the future.

Second-guessing is part and parcel with fans and media. Players and coaches don’t have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight or forecasting the future. They’re like a combat unit. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. The present is a gift.

Should the Vikings be 4-4 right now? An unequivocal yes. Are they? Check the standings.

At 3-5, the Vikings are clinging to hope. They are not a Maserati. They are a Volkswagen van with the muffler being held up with a coat hanger. But, the Vikings of recent vintage would have folded like a card table when Tampa Bay scored the go-ahead touchdown. This Vikings team didn’t.

Had the Bucs won the game, there was the potential that the Vikings would start finger-pointing. It happens with competitors. For three quarters, the Vikings defense was oppressive. For 2½ quarters, the Vikings offense tripped over its own it feet before making critical plays from that point forward – to either score or win the field position battle in a low-scoring game.

As players are wont to say when they don’t want to give an honest answer, at the midway point of the season, 2014 “is what it is.” Should they be 4-4 and telling the rest of the division, let’s get it on! Yes? Are they? No.

Four the next five Vikings games will be at home. The only road game is at Chicago, where the Bears have found that, in 2014 anyway, there’s anyplace but home. Only three teams haven’t won at home – Oakland, which hasn’t won anywhere, Tampa Bay and Chicago.

When the season began back in early September, the plan was that the Vikings defense would be improved and the offense would ride the wide shoulders of A.P. Over the last three weeks, the Vikings haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points. The defense is doing its job, despite late-game gas-outs. The Teddy Bridgewater-based offense took a big step forward Sunday in panic-mode football – driving for a much-needed field goal in crunch time in both halves of Sunday’s game.

For most of October, there was nothing but misery for the Vikings. The final game of month turned the page. TCF Bank Stadium will be abuzz for most of November and early December. Therein lies the 2014 season for the Vikings.

The fuse got lit on Sunday. What the team does from here will define the 2014 season. It still holds its future in its own hands. The worst of the 2014 schedule is behind them. If Mike Zimmer is going to light a fire under this team, the spark has already been supplied.


MONDAY NOTES


  • Cordarrelle Patterson left Sunday’s game wearing a walking boot after injuring his ankle on the final kickoff return of regulation. Following the game, Patterson told reporters the boot was more of a precaution than a reason for concern, but, with ankle injuries, a lot of times you don’t know until the following day the full extent of the damage when your body tries to help protect the injured part. Stay tuned.

  • Joe Berger is becoming the Swiss Army knife of the offensive line. Last week, he replaced John Sullivan at center. Sunday, he replaced Vladimir Ducasse at right guard.

  • Sometimes, even the refs don’t know what’s going on when it comes to the rules. When Anthony Barr scored his touchdown in overtime to end the game, you never need to kick an extra point. That rule has been in effect since overtime began in the NFL. Somehow, Craig Wrolstad’s crew didn’t get the memo. The official end of the game wasn’t until a few minutes later when the officials finally got the word that there was no need for an extra point.

  • The NFL announced Sunday that next year it will be increasing the number of games in London to five games. It started as one. It went to two. This year there are three. Five next year? Do you smell a trend? Given that teams that play in London are required to have a bye week afterward, those five games are going to have to come in a pretty tight window of the standard plan for bye weeks unless the league moves to two bye weeks. The bye weeks currently run from Weeks 4-12 – meaning that there will be a game every other week in that nine-week window next year.

  • As the Vikings prepared for their final drive of the game, whether orchestrated or not, the Bucs cheerleaders did a routine almost in the Vikings huddle. It’s almost like the kicker going through practice with the band surrounding him. Something seems a little fishy and, if it happens to a Bill Belichick-coached team, you can bet that such “down time” activities will be curbed if not eliminated.

  • On the CBS pre-game show, Boomer Esiason referred to Percy Harvin as a “malcontent.” Those who know Harvin, understand that, while he can get easily frustrated, his beef is almost always centered around how he is used.


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