Lurtsema's Reaction: Bold Calls

Despite making calls that instill confidence in players and putting the Vikings in a position to win, Mike Tice lost his second game as full-time head coach. Even with multiple opportunities to win and bad decisions by Bills coach Gregg Williams, the Vikings still couldn't finish the job.

This year's Minnesota Vikings offense is as well-balanced as there is in the National Football League, and they're going to get better. When your running game turns out a 213-yard performance — and only 6 of that came in overtime — for a 5.5-yard average per play and you go 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions, something is going right. Actually, one of the few things wrong was that terrible score at the end, a second straight heartbreaking loss at 45-39.

And what makes this even worse is that Buffalo's second-year head coach Gregg Williams tried to hand the game to the Vikings while making two unusual decisions in overtime. Here Vikings coach Mike Tice is making the right calls, getting the crowd involved and winning over the players' support for the entire year by showing the confidence he has in them by going for it on three fourth-down situations, and yet Williams ends up on the winning end of this game. Players will continue to support a confident, aggressive coaching staff, and that makes a tremendous difference in a long, grueling NFL season. It's the opposite for someone like Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg, the coach respected least by his players of any other head coach in the league. I wish I had the time and the space to tell you how he fits into that category, but last year's performance and this year's start can be placed on his decisions.

Anyway, back to Williams. On the second possession in overtime, with first-and-5 on the Minnesota 19-yard line and sitting with one of the better field goal kickers in Mike Hollis on his sideline, Williams called a pass play that ended with Drew Beldsoe being sacked at the 28-yard line by Lorenzo Bromell. Actually, the sack resulted from a stunt that was called at the line of scrimmage by Bromell. Then, after getting just 2 yards on the next play, the Bills had the ball on the right hash. Now, on third down, Williams brings in the field goal team to attempt a 44-yarder from the right hash, which obviously is not the best angle.

How easy is it to take the third-down play and move to the center of the field, which would greatly enhance Hollis' chance to make it. Of course, he misses it left to my delight and gives the Vikings another great opportunity to win this game.

In games like this, your Monday morning quarterback will feast. And just to throw a little teaser at you Monday morning quarterbacks, what do you think would have happened if Brian Williams hadn't touched down Peerless Price on the 36-yard line with 3 seconds to go in regulation to enable lucky Hollis to bounce one off and over the crossbar to take the game into overtime? If Price hadn't been immediately touched down, time could have run out without the Bills and Hollis getting the opportunity to capitalize.

This year in the NFL, it's going to be a wild free-for-all going down to the final weeks to see who will make the playoffs, as the first two weeks have shown. For the Vikings, the opening of their season has brought two unbelievably tough losses, but in the locker room there was unified support for the team's effort and enthusiasm, a good sign that the Vikes will beat Caroline next Sunday to give the coach that Vikings players respect his first victory.

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