Lurtsema's Reaction: Rivalry Rekindled

In a close game, several key calls are bound to be analyzed. In this great rivalry game, that's to be expected.

The entire state of Minnesota sure is missing the boat on getting an outdoor stadium and tailgating facilities like those that the Green Bay Packers have in Lambeau Field. There are so many unique things going on by the creative fans, which I truly enjoyed — but then at the end I absolutely hated the results, as the Vikings lost their second straight heartbreaker on a last-second field goal.

I wonder if these great Packers fans will be ripping Green Bay coach Mike Sherman for his decision to go for a first down on fourth-and-inches on the 15-yard line with 6:50 to go in the third quarter and leading by 14 points. A field goal would have forced the Vikings to get three scores to even get an opportunity for overtime, and any time teams are at home, to some it's a very easy decision to take the three points. With a great stand by the Vikings, the momentum changed, and rather than being down 27-10 it was eventually 24-17 with 2:39 to go in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the Vikings' special teams gave up a 55-yard kickoff return, and even though Packer Jason Horton was flagrantly holding the play stood. Soon the lead would be 31-17, but there was no quit in a young Vikings team that is suddenly growing into a group that realizes there is no obstacle too big to overcome. I could feel the true energy that both sides of the ball were generating as the game progressed.

The Vikings came back and finally tied it 31-31 with 1:20 to go in the game, but once again there was a special teams coverage breakdown. But on this particular runback, Antoine Winfield caused a fumble by Robert Ferguson. Derek Ross obviously recovered it for the Vikings and, as the simple rule states, once a player has possession and an opponent touches him, the play is over no matter how many times the ball switches hands underneath the pile. Yet, as in missing Horton's hold, the officials totally missed this call.

Both the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings made a bundle of great plays. Unfortunately, the Packers made a few more, resulting in another win at Lambeau. The Vikings still are tied for first with seven games left in the season, and the schedule definitely favors the Vikings among the NFC North contenders. Now, the favorite holiday for me each and every year is Christmas Eve day, and as many of the Packers fans were gingerly harassing me, I'll tell you what I told them: "Thank you for the gift on Christmas Eve day."



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