Vikings Corner: Vikings must get over Arizona loss
An inability to finish games, that was the knock four weeks ago.
Halfway through the season the Minnesota Vikings were 7-1 and on the surface looked like one of the most dominant teams in football.
They claimed big wins over Green Bay and St. Louis, but were down at the half against both Cleveland and Detroit. Throw in a couple of last-second victories with Baltimore and San Francisco and it just emphasized Minnesota's lack of a "killer" instinct. It was the inability to close-out football games that would be the demise of the team.
Then came three more games against teams with losing records and the Viking's responded with three-straight blow outs and likewise, comparisons with the 15-1 team of 1998.
It all came crashing down in Arizona though and it had nothing to do with closing out a victory.
The purple ruled that game for exactly 5 minutes and 13 seconds. Then it was over, nothing. They couldn't move the ball on offense nor stop anyone on defense. The only consistency they showed was on the injury report and that was the key point in the loss.
Up until this week the Vikings were one of the healthiest teams in the league. Only one starter, Antoine Winfield, has missed any significant time. If you look across the league, no other team has had that luxury.
That's not to say, players haven't been hurt, they have, but they still played. Up until Sunday it hadn't interrupted the flow of the game
"Injuries are a part of it," said Brett Favre. "I'll still say it, we are a very good football team, but if you don't play very well you are going to get beat. It is as simple as that."
After their initial scoring drive the Vikings began shuffling through players at an alarming rate. The offensive line was missing three starters at one point. Same with the defensive backs, which was especially important late in the game with the E.J. Henderson injury. He collided with a diving Jamarca Sanford who had replaced the injured Tyrell Johnson.
If you're searching for an answer, here it is. Minnesota lost because they were dominated by the Arizona Cardinals. The physicality of that particular game affected the players more than they've ever had to deal with before.
Faced with a three-man rush and a patch-work line, Brett Favre and company looked completely ordinary. Afterwards coach Brad Childress tried to downplay that point.
"I know that there were some offensive linemen in and out. We were trading people in and out. I thought we had a chance to build on that (their first possession). Did he start to press? I don't use the word press. Did we start to throw more? Probably."
Forced to regroup, Sunday becomes an interesting match-up for the purple. Cincinnati has a three-game lead on the Ravens and Steelers and can clinch the AFC North title with a victory.
For Minnesota, its how they rebound from the rout in Arizona.
"I just remind them that we are a 10-2 football team," said Childress. "You put a loss behind you and you got to look forward. As I have said before; it's a forward looking business. We are in the fourth quarter of this schedule and it's December."
"We need to bounce back quickly," added Favre. "No different than coming back at practice. How you respond is so important. How we respond in this game early will be equally as important."
It's not necessarily how you finish the game, what's even more important is how you finish the season.
T.J. Melcher can be heard on KBUN-AM1450.