Lurtsema's Reaction: Confidence Yields Big Plays

The coaches are instilling confidence in the players and the playmakers are responding with confidence — and big plays.

There are so many ways to win a game in the National Football League that it would take months to describe them all, and I'm sure each fan has their unique way of justifying a win. As an ex-player, I actually look at some things in a much different manner than most good fans. An example, a happening in this 28-20 victory over the Broncos: The situation was set up when the Vikings had a fourth-and-1 decision to make with 7:23 to go in the first quarter of a scoreless game on their own 46-yard line. The decision was to go for the first down, and the result was a 2-yard gain on the sneak by Daunte Culpepper. This kept the drive alive and the end result was a 47-yard touchdown reception by Kelly Campbell.

The uniqueness of this call that was made quickly by the Vikings coaching staff is that it sends out a strong message to both the offensive and defensive players of the Vikings. The coaching staff is telling the defense that they feel comfortable enough with their play (boy, that defensive line played today) that if the sneak failed the Vikings defense would get the ball back for the offense. In the same breath, the decision told the offense that they believe in their effort as well. A situation like this really loosens up the ball club, more so than you can imagine, for when a player's confidence soars his ability increases as well.

Playing with this loose attitude allows a player to go with his instincts, having already been assured that he knows his responsibility — and a casual, fun performance can follow. There are two easy examples of this: On Culpepper's 47-yard TD pass to Campbell, as the quarterback strolled outside the pocket he pointed to Moe Williams to block a defender. Williams' execution of the block allowed Culpepper to make the big play. If you think that isn't a big enough play, how about the casual performance of Randy Moss? As he caught a pass on the 11-yard line with basically no time left on the clock in the first half, he lateraled back to Williams, who was trailing on the play. It was one of the prettiest plays I've seen in a long, long time created by two professionals having fun in a very unique situation.

But how unique is this situation? The Minnesota Vikings practice this play each and every Saturday. The drill is called "keep it alive." They work on lateraling from receiver to receiver, or receiver to running back, etc. The players are addressing these plays in such a way that they have the confidence and the assurance that if it fails the coaches understand that they are individuals trying to make something happen rather than waiting for something to happen. In other words, the coaches totally support the players' aggressive efforts no matter the outcome of the play. Good teams and good players working on little things create great results while keeping all the fans on the edge of their seats, not wondering "how are we going to lose this game" but rather "how are we going to win this game."

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