This game they call football can drive a person nuts, especially when it's NFL football. I'm sure glad I'm not a coach, but the unpredictability of it also makes this a great game.
As a player on an NFL team, when you play against certain teams, you know you're going to win, whether it is a home game or an away game. When I was with the New York Giants, it just seemed that we always had the St. Louis Cardinals' number, and now members of the New York Football Giants have that same feeling when they play the Minnesota Vikings, and recent history backs me up. There is no amount of teaching, coaching or psychological searching that dictates this feeling, but it's real. When players have this feeling, as the Giants do, it doesn't help when the Vikings have enough turnovers to make it tough on any defensive team to survive the onslaught.
The Vikings this week seemed to come out a tad on the flat side, and it hurt them immensely in the first series when Daunte Culpepper threw a lateral that rookie Mewelde Moore couldn't handle. Nobody was hustling for the ball and all assumed it was a forward pass, but it was very obvious in the press box that it was a lateral. Not hearing a whistle and being a tad lackadaisical, which can happen at the start of a game, not only gave the Giants the emotional reassurance of dominance but also took up a Vikings time out when a red flag was thrown to challenge the ruling. The end result was just three points, but the emotional swing was enormous on the Giants' side. And then add Morten Andersen hitting the upright on a 38-yard field goal attempt and a non-existent rushing attack early in the game and it kept adding more gas to the fire.
I will give a tremendous amount of credit to the Giants defense, as they were constantly showing a different look, and I wondered at times if they showed the same look twice. It was a great game plan, but yet Culpepper was not sacked.
As for the Vikings defense, it seemed like when they made a mental mistake the Giants offense always took advantage. The linebackers seemed to be the ones having the most difficulty with the defensive scheme, but I think the defensive line actually played well, registering more than 25 tackles. That's a good number because normally the goal is to get two or three tackles from the defensive ends while getting three to five tackles from the defensive tackles. Five of those tackles were actually sacks, and they could just as easily have had five more sacks.
You can look at the stats of the game, break them down — look at Kurt Warner's mere 144 yards and keeping the NFL's best running back so far this season (Tiki Barber) to 101 yards — and second guess how the Vikings could have actually still won this game. But it would drive you nuts. In some cases, certain teams just know they're going to win no matter the obstacles or how hot the opposing quarterback is. Unfortunately, we saw that happen again Sunday against a disciplined and opportunistic New York Giants team.
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