Full disclosure – I missed the 2nd and 3rd quarters because I decided to drive my girlfriend back to Queens early because we had to run some errands in Manhattan on the way back to her place. But let’s be honest here – I didn’t miss much. The Vikings played a sloppy game and the Saints were out of sync (I’ll let you decide whether it was due to the Vikings and Leslie Frazier’s game plan (probably) or if the Saints were a bit overwhelmed by the moment (probably played a part as well.)
So instead of recapping a game that everyone either watched in its entirety, watched in part, or saw the highlights, I am going to take the time to address a few storylines that I am sure the media will be beating us over the head with today and tomorrow.
The referees did not cost the Vikings this game (re: the phantom pass interference on David Thomas.)
No one player lost the Vikings this game (i.e., Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, etc.)
A coin toss did not lose the Vikings this game.
And the overtime rules are just fine, thank you.
Here’s the deal: when I played football in high school we were forbidden from complaining about the referees or for worrying about things that were out of our control. I was always taught that if you allowed a game to be decided by the refs or something like a coin toss, then that’s on you. The Vikings had 60+ minutes to take care of business and they didn’t get it done. In fact, it was remarkable that this game even made it to overtime considering they turned the ball over 5 times. Refs will make bad calls. Weird plays happen. But, if you take care of business and even if the refs make a bad call, you should still end up on the winning side.
Further, to place the blame for a loss on a single play or a coin flip is ridiculous and diminishes the hundreds of other plays that happened over the course of a game. Of course any single play can swing the outcome of a tightly contested match, but to try and play this game of isolating THE play that swung the game is a fool’s errand and misses the point. Football is a team game and there will be many plays during the course of the game that do not go your way. Good teams minimize the bad plays against them and exploit the other team’s breakdowns.
As for the overtime rule, I love the NFL’s overtime rule. As a Packers’ fan I know first hand that winning the toss in OT does not guarantee victory or defeat (see Al Harris picking off Matt Hasselbeck, Corey Webster picking off Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers being “picked off” by the Cardinals in the first round this year.) Further, defense and special teams are part of the game! How about the Vikings make a play on special teams and not let Pierre Thomas return the overtime kickoff to the Saints’ 40? How about the defense step up and make a play? The trend over the last few years in the NFL has been to glorify offense and short change defense and special teams. I think this is a travesty and this is why I love the NFL overtime rule: it emphasizes all three phases of the game.
Additionally, as I alluded to earlier, to claim that a coin flip decided the game totally diminishes the 60 minutes of football that preceded overtime. There were plenty of opportunities for either team to handle their business in regulation. Heck, if Favre had just tucked the ball and ran with it, chances are Ryan Longwell nails a 50 yarder for the win. Games between teams as evenly matched as the Vikings and Saints are essentially sudden death matches anyway, with the team who has the ball last usually the one who wins. In fact, announcers say this all the time. So why does everyone lose their minds over the overtime rules. Isn’t it essentially luck that determines who ends up with the ball last in regulation of these types of contests?
Well now I am ranting so I’ll wrap this baby up. My ultimate point is that no single play or event determines the outcome of a football game. That might be the storyline the next day, but it’s false. Plays count just as much in the first quarter as they do in the 4th quarter or in overtime. The Vikings have no one to blame but themselves, as a TEAM, the same way my Packers had no one to blame but themselves for spotting the Cardinals a 14 point lead in the first round. To claim otherwise totally diminishes what else happened during the game.