There's something about the Vikings playing in Green Bay with freaky plays and controversy. Sunday's…
Controversy Doesn't Fit The Script
Of course, I'm talking about last Sunday's game between the Vikings and Packers, "won" by Green Bay by a 34-31 score. With the score tied at 31 and the Packers returning the kickoff, the Vikings forced a fumble. The ball roll forward about 20 yards and then there was a huge pile-up of players. The Vikings celebrated, certain that they had secured the ball. After a long delay, the officials awarded the ball … to the Packers.
Unfortunately for the Viking and their fans, it appeared on the television replay that Minnesota's Derek Ross had secured the ball and was on the ground before the Packers piled on top of him. The Vikings most likely would have challenged the ruling if it had not been inside the two-minute mark of the game, when only the officials may ask for a review.
Apparently there was a consensus that the replay would be inconclusive; too many players involved to see the bottom of a pile. There is a fault in this logic, however, in that once Ross had secured the ball and was the ground, any contact with him would make him down by contact, and thus give the ball to the Vikings. Fox had the shot, and the officials wouldn't even look at it. Why not? What would be the problem in simply looking at the play to see if possession could have been established before the pile-up?
Even though this play should be controversial, none of the national media is covering this angle. To say the Vikings got robbed doesn't fit in with the script that people want to read. I've heard a few reporters say that the Packers have "taken over first place". They have only tied for first place, but who cares about details when you're selling the Brett Favre/Frozen Tundra/Cheesehead story? Because it fits the script that most of the media seems to want, no one really cares that the officials blew the call.
Obviously, there are other reasons the Vikings lost this game — defense and special teams coverages were both horrible. The Vikings will have to improve in these areas if they want to make a serious playoff run. However, the idea that they are done and the Packers are going to run away with the division now is far-fetched if you ask me.
The schedule favors the Vikes; they have four remaining home games and the three road games they have left are against weaker teams (Bears, Lions, Skins). The Pack, on the other hand, have remaining road games at Philly and Minnesota (Dec. 24), plus St. Louis and Jacksonville at home. The Vikings are through the toughest part of their schedule, having played three night games on the road, and the absurd situation of playing the Packers on a short week with the Packers coming off a bye. The Vikings also have an advantage as of now in that the Packers lost a division game to the Bears early in the season. If Minnesota can avoid a loss to the Bears or Lions and win the rematch against the Packers, they will own the tie-breaker for the division. I still expect the Vikings to win the NFC North.
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