The Vikings’ bandwagon is a little sparse today after Minnesota was upset at Soldier Field Monday night by Jay Cutler and the Bears — even after the Bears handed them a chance to win with a missed FG.
Add in an Adrian Peterson fumble, and now the Vikings — who were thinking about home-field advantage for the playoffs — find themselves a Philly win away from playing on wild card weekend.
Yes, Brett Favre was great last night and fun to watch, but when you’re a team that’s fighting for a No.1 seed in the playoffs, you can’t go on the road and drop one to a five-win team with a QB who’s leading the league in interceptions — and allow him to throw four TD passes against you.
It shouldn’t happen, but then again, this is a classic example of a team falling from grace at the end of the season — and it’s dangerous territory.
I was a member of the 2002 Green Bay Packers, a 12-3 team that headed to New York to face Chad Pennington and the Jets with a chance to lock up home field throughout the postseason. Instead, we lost and went from the No.1 seed in the NFC to hosting the Atlanta Falcons six days later on wild card Saturday.
The result: the Packers’ first home playoff loss at Lambeau Field — ever. We didn’t recover from the Jets loss and played like it, chasing Michael Vick all over the field in the snow, turning the ball over and looking like anything but a No.1 seed. Hey, I even allowed a punt to be blocked for a TD (something the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn still can’t seem to get over).
The point here is simple: We went from being the NFC favorites to out of the playoffs and at home on the couch in a span of six days.
That’s how fragile the Vikings’ season is right now. Dropping three of four has exposed them in areas that weren’t even a concern over the first three months of the season. Can they fix this? Of course, but the big players — guys like Jared Allen, Antoine Winfield, A.P., Bryant McKinnie — will have to start playing playoff-caliber football if they want to keep up with Favre.
Every team goes through this type of slide in the NFL. It’s happening to the Saints, it happened to the Patriots, and the Chargers went through it when they were sitting at 2-3. But teams that make a run in the playoffs figure it out.
And now the Vikings need to win Sunday and get the week off or else they could be just like that 2002 Packers team.
One and done.
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