I cheer each and every week like all Minnesota Vikings fans for an exciting game and, of course, a win. But I don't think I've ever rooted as hard as I did this Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens, as it was Mike Tice's first game as a head coach. Having only two days to prepare for the game, you really couldn't expect many changes. Basically I was hoping that the players would give Tice the effort and respect that he truly deserved, and they did.
With Tice only having two days to prepare, I did enjoy the Randy Moss to Cris Carter completion early in the first quarter, which let the fans know that Tice is not afraid to make change. I knew the players would put forth a great effort, as they all know and respect Tice from his coaching days with the Vikings, and some even played with him when he was a tight end for the Vikings. All the players knew he would not tolerate anything less than a full, all-out effort — and he was rewarded with that effort. But Mike Tice is an offensive guy and I'm a defensive guy, so it's obvious that I know more than he does (just kidding, Mike … checking to see if you still have a great sense of humor as a head coach).
Now, speaking of defense, this year has been awfully rough, but Monday night the defense played with emotion. Great defenses, of course, bend but don't break, and the Vikings followed that in Baltimore. As a matter of fact, in the second quarter the Vikings did something they have accomplished only once before in the past 10 years — they mounted a goal-line stand. The Ravens had first-and-goal at the 3-yard line, and by the time the Ravens completed that drive they had six opportunities to score, yet the end result was a mere field goal. It showed how defiant this defense can be, as they continued to keep working and fighting. There is no embarrassment in the defensive effort in this game, as the Ravens actually reached the Vikings 3-, 2- and 1-yard lines and settled for field goals each time.
As I mentioned, I truly am a Vikings fan, but yet to some degree I'm glad the season is over. In my 35-year association with the NFL, I've never seen a team endure more tragic circumstances than the Vikings this year, from the lovable Korey Stringer's death to Sept. 11, 2001 to losing their mentor of 10 years. There will be a lot of things going on in the next month or so, but after surviving this season, the 2002 Minnesota Vikings will be the best prepared team that I'll see in my 36 years of NFL affiliation. VU
Lurtsema's Reaction: An Honest Effort
Viking Update Top Stories
VIDEO: Zimmer on final preps for EaglesMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer discusses some key players for Philadelphia, his defense and if Jake Long could play.
Viking Update12:02 PM
Vikings have 3 receivers on injury reportThe Minnesota Vikings could be getting Stefon Diggs back in the lineup, but he is among three receivers on their injury report.
Viking Update11:37 AM
Notebook: Walsh ‘past the bad things?’The Minnesota Vikings are preparing to play “quite possibly the best special teams unit across the board that we've faced so far this year.” Plus, the Vikings are doing much better…
Viking Update8:49 AM
Hard-core stats: Vikings at EaglesThe Minnesota Vikings will look to exploit some of the weaknesses the Eagles have shown lately, including one strength for the Vikings and one weakness. We go deep into where the…
Viking Update5:04 AM
Born to run … with backups?Perhaps no other division came into 2016 more dependent on strong running games to succeed as much as the NFC North. But, in just the seventh week of the season, all four teams…
Viking UpdateYesterday at 10:23 PM