The Minnesota Vikings are now 3-0 — all against NFC North teams — with two of those wins coming on the road. How sweet it is. Plus, the Vikings are getting better each and every week, and the neat part of that is their best football is ahead of them for all of us die-hard fans to soak in.
The great part of this 23-13 win at Detroit is what the Vikings' big goal-line stand in the fourth quarter will do for their confidence entering this Sunday's game against San Francisco. That defensive stand definitely closed the door on the Lions' opportunity to come back. For those who watched last Monday's thriller between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, we all believe in Yogi Berra's famous quote: "It ain't over 'til it's over."
Another big positive for the Minnesota defense was that when Daunte Culpepper went down with 4:57 to go in the second quarter, backup Gus Frerotte came in and continued with the same game plan that was initiated for Culpepper, driving them down for an easy field goal after getting the ball with 43 seconds left in the half. Momentum during a game and the positives that can be carried over to the following week aren't always obvious, but you sure can feel them coming.
Those two, the goal-line stand and Frerotte's backup ability, are momentum carry-overs for next week's game against the 1-2 San Francisco 49ers. One of the bigger momentum swings during this game was when the Detroit Lions had three straight penalties before they could execute a punt with 13 minutes left in the first half while leading 10-0. That special teams breakdown was a great lift for the Vikings and a bubble-buster for the Lions. Special teams can truly determine the outcome of many games each season in the NFL.
The Vikings' special teams right now are not setting the world on fire. The defense put in another tremendous performance and for the sixth straight Vikings win (counting last year) held their opponent to less than 100 yards rushing while at the same time being put in some difficult field positions because of the various kick and punt coverage breakdowns. Those coverage teams from last year have lost three great players — Harold Morrow (to the Baltimore Ravens), sChris Walsh and Jack Brewer (for the first three weeks this year to a sternum injury). Moe Williams fills in, of course, but with the situation the Vikings are in, it would be awfully nice if they would bring back Chris Walsh. He came to the halftime ceremonies last week against Chicago for the retirement of Cris Carter's jersey. He is in great shape and itching to play one more year. This Vikings team, while improving every week, has a great opportunity to go some distance this year, and it would be a shame if special teams coverage mistakes would lose a game that would determine the outcome of this exciting 2003 season.
Even so, the Vikings are undefeated, with a two-game division lead, improving in every aspect, and it doesn't get much better.
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