Lurtsema's Reaction: Halftime Adjustments

Halftime adjustments allowed the Vikings to erase an eight-point deficit and cruise to a 39-26 win that even left veteran NFL coach Dan Reeves wondering exactly what happened.

What a great way to start a football game on the road, as I watched this beautiful Lanner Falcon fly around the stadium and land on the trainer's hand at midfield. Then to continue the excitement of following a 4-0 team, I was ready to sit back, relax and watch a casual rout of an Atlanta team in disarray.

Suddenly at halftime, the Vikings were trailing 20-12 to a preseason playoff team that desperately needed a win and were hoping that the Vikings were looking forward to their upcoming bye, as more than a third of the players were allowed to leave Atlanta for parts other than the Twin Cities to enjoy three days off before returning for practice Thursday. That really doesn't paint a very positive picture, but in the press box at halftime many writers were discussing the possibility of that attitude from the Vikings.

Without coaching leadership, some teams could have these distractions overcome them, but not this 2003 Minnesota Vikings 5-0 football team. Calm ran throughout at halftime, as the Vikings coaches made halftime adjustments that were received by the players, who felt confident about succeeding in the second half. No frustration was evident, as they scored on three of their first four possessions of the second half and outscored this Falcons team 27-6 in the second half.

This truly was another huge step to becoming a legitimate playoff team that can, on any given Sunday, beat any opponent. I was in the visiting locker room after the game, talking with a few of the Falcons players, including two University of Minnesota products, Derek Rackley and Karon Riley. I noticed that head coach Dan Reeves was holding his press conference at the same time. So casually, I leaned in on the conference and was lucky enough to ask him a question: What did he think of the Vikings defensive backs and defense in general? He praised their play and improvement, and then added how the Vikings had totally confused the Falcons in the third quarter by creating different defensive alignments and stunts. He said he would have to check the film to see what actually happened. What a great compliment to Mike Tice and his staff from a very successful coach who unfortunately (not that unfortunately) didn't reach his 200th career victory. At the same time, Coach Tice won his eighth game in a row, counting the three-game winning streak at the end of the 2002 season.

I started to think that the only part of this game I would like would be the flying Falcon. But things sure changed with halftime adjustments, and now I look at this upcoming three-game home stand as an opportunity to take these players and coaches to another level of confidence — one that soars.

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