Lurtsema's Reaction: Inconsistent Play

When Todd Bouman threw his first interception of the game and Chris Walsh was blocked out of making the tackle during the return, it illustrated how an 11-man effort by the Lions can often make the difference in a game. The Vikings haven't had enough total team efforts this year.

One play turning a different way during an NFL game and the outcome can be reversed. That was rather obvious Sunday in Detroit, as quarterback Todd Bouman had one pass he wished he could have taken back. That was the one that Detroit cornerback Todd Lyght picked off at the Lions 41-yard line and took 59 yards the other way for the first score of the game, which, of course, turned out to be the difference in a 27-24 loss for the Vikings.

It's bad enough to have an interception, but a return of 59 yards is the killer, and that runback was set up by a defensive player from an 0-12 team giving a little extra. What happened was Bouman, while in pursuit, actually gave the Vikings' offensive players the opportunity to catch Lyght from behind, but linebacker Chris Claiborne took down Chris Walsh with a very aggressive block. That took away Walsh's opportunity to catch Lyght. It goes to show that no matter what a team's record is, there are a lot of good, hardcore players who are alert to everything that is going on around them.

If a team could maintain this from 11 players, they would probably walk their way through the Super Bowl, but obviously that just doesn't happen. Actually, that is what I think has happened to the Minnesota Vikings this year, as they just seem to be in an inconsistent mode on both sides of the ball. They'll make great defensive plays for a period of time, but when it comes to crunch time they just don't seem to pull the trigger each and every time. Actually, the defense played well enough to beat Detroit, but just when you thought they had the game under control, the Lions would either bounce a play outside, make an easy completion or have young, inexperienced quarterback Mike McMahon scramble either outside or between the tackles. It kind of reminds me of Chicago's old Bobby Douglas. A quarterback like this can create havoc with a defense, as McMahon ended up with 74 yards rushing on just 12 carries.

On the Vikings' offensive side of the ball, the Lions didn't blitz much, but rather stunted their defensive linemen on a few occasions. It seemed like every time they ran a stunt it was the right defensive call for the Vikings' offensive play selection. Or if it was a passing situation, it seemed like the offensive linemen scraped off just a tad early on a few occasions. It's just the way things have seemed to go this season for the Vikings.

The players are not pointing fingers, and at this time it would be an easy thing to do, since they just broke the bank at Las Vegas with the 1-and-1 exacta, giving up one win to the Carolina Panthers and one to the Detroit Lions. This has been a rather weird year for the Vikings, going 0-6 on the road, and having two of their last three games on the road could mean even more frustration. But it also means the Vikings will have a chance to prove that they can learn how to turn that one play in their favor as they mature as a team. VU

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