Lurtsema's Reaction: The Hidden Factor

The Vikings played much better football on the offensive and defensive lines, but there was a contributing factor most media won't acknowledge that helped the Vikings beat Seattle.

I just figured out why I love this game so much. It's because I can't figure it out, and just when I think I know it all, well, you know the answer to that. Some things, though, are predictable in the NFL, at least to a small degree.

Today, with the offensive and defensive lines playing so well for the Minnesota Vikings, it was exciting to see them jump on the Seattle Seahawks early in this game. Being on the road creates a lot of negative situations, one of them being the crowd noise, as was demonstrated last week in St. Louis when the Vikings' offensive line had one its worst games of the year. The Seahawks are now 1-5 on the road and 7-0 at home, so that gives credence to what I'm about to say. Having played two years with the Seattle Seahawks, I know that one factor that constantly affected our performance was traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast, a factor that few writers discuss. When coaches address it, the media seem to ignore it. The factor is, of course, the time change.

When the Seahawks played the Vikings, they had a two-hour time change. In other words, their normal 8 a.m. pregame meal was actually at 6 a.m. back home. Don't tell me it's 8 o'clock when my body knows it's 6 o'clock. In Seattle when Dennis Erickson was head coach, he even started his practices at 5 a.m. during the week to combat this disadvantage. This two-hour lag, which is three hours for a West Coast team playing in New York, will cause many players to start the game out slow, even though they try everything possible to pick up the pace. Finally, they are able to jump-start their engines, and when that happens they just hope their team hasn't dug too big a hole to recover. With the West Coast teams, that is why you often see them fall behind early when they are out of their time zone and playing against a raucous home crowd.

Now, taking into account the improved play on the Vikings' offensive and defensive lines, you can see why it was so important to get off to an early lead. An early lead allows them to control the tempo of the game and gives them a much better chance to win. This was by far the best the Vikings have played as a unit to date, producing an easy 34-7 victory over an 8-4 playoff-contending team.

Now that the Vikings have figured out how to beat a West Coast team in the Metrodome, they need to find a way to go on the road and beat the Chicago Bears, a team that always plays them close in Soldier Field and needs a victory to have any chance of keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. Go figure.

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