October 23, 2004
1997 Summary Continued: Week 8, at Tampa Bay

The 1997 Season

Note: 1997 was the first season that I wrote down thoughts the entire year. Therefore, the 1997 season summary will come in multiple additions to my blog. Today's 1997 entry will be Week 8, at Tampa Bay thoughts.

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Week Eight: at Tampa Bay

“We’ve got no place in this outfit for good losers. We want tough hombres who will go in there and win!” Admiral Jonas Ingram, 1926

The Minnesota Viking offense has dozens of different ways of delivering destruction via running and passing of one sort or another or scoring so widespread, so unselective, that the game is won because the opposing defense has ceased to exist. Because of this, sometimes a professional NFL referee will give the Vikes a touchdown even when it’s not clear if it was, in fact, one.

The Viking offense can also be selective, precisely applying the necessary play at the designated moment to make the game as personal as a punch in the nose. Vikings offensive coordinator, Brian Billick, has never had to tell his unit to march down the field by running only to the left, but if he told them to, they could. They will. They did. Ask Leroy Hoard.

Head coach Dennis Green has built a team in which he can tell the boys to go to a particular place at H-hour, occupy a designated field, stand on it, dig the enemy out of their locker room, and force them then and there to surrender or die.

You see, the definition of an atheist in the Viking locker room is a player who doesn’t believe in Coach Green. Green wins because he coaches people, not football.

One of those people is running back Robert Smith. Earlier this week, a Buccaneers fan I work with asked me just how fast Smith runs the 40-yard dash. I simply replied, “You should know. He’s run past your secondary enough times.” Smith, unfortunately, left the game with a slight ankle sprain. Let’s hope it’s not a high ankle sprain and we’ll see Robert back on the home field next week.

Occasionally, just for kicks, the Vikings decided that the running game and time management were going so well, why not try passing? All quarterback Brad Johnson needed to keep in mind during the first half was this: When Cris Carter is covered, he’s open. During the second half, it was Jake Reed making the Buccaneers try to cover him with eleven players and prayers.

A lot will be made of the huge amount of possession time the Vikings had. Remember the old adage “Time of possession only counts in jail.” The Vikings came up short today once they reached the red-zone. The armchair quarterbacks will be jumping all over that fact this week rather than relishing the reality that, pending the outcome of Monday night’s contest between the Packers and the Patriots, the Purple are alone in first place. The important thing about this game is we got another “W” in the win column and we got to keep the game ball.

Viking special teams could have won or lost this game. Eddie Murray, such a steady kicker that he practices missing field goals, apparently forgot that this was a real game day situation and missed an early 30-yard field goal.

But the sawed-off shotgun known as David Palmer blasted down the sidelines on a 57-yard punt return in the second half to set up a Viking score. Considering that Palmer wasn’t even going to play this game because of injury, he was limited to just two speeds–here he comes and there he goes.

Keep in mind what the soon-to-be-next-Viking head coach (written with heavy sarcasm), Lou Holtz, said a few years back. Lisping Lou said, “There isn’t anything wrong with winning ugly. As a matter of fact, there isn’t anything wrong with being ugly–as long as you’re successful.”

Posted by maasx003 at October 23, 2004 6:29 AM