The Wide Angle: Questions of a Vikings Super Bowl and pie
In lieu of events this past Sunday I feel I have to add an amendment to last week’s column.
I wrote, if you remember, that Minnesota fans, especially Vikings fans, have to follow their team with a certain level of skepticism when grading a successful year. We, collectively as fans and a team, have suffered our fair share of heartbreak bordering sometimes on the wildly unfair.
Still looking at you Blair Walsh.
So it should come as no surprise that a vast majority of fans in those final 10 seconds of the Vikings’ playoff game against the New Orleans Saints were bracing for another year of trying to explain what just happened and why does God hate them.
Over the years I’ve managed to insert a cushion of distance between me and Minnesota teams, always aware of the heartbreak that most often follows after so much hype.
You can’t begin to know how I’m bracing for this year’s Minnesota Twins season. Dare I hope? No, I’ve been hurt to many times to believe again.
I watched on Sunday the Vikings do whatever they wanted to the Saints in the first half, only to watch with all too much familierity, the lead slowly start to slip in the second half.Yet Vikings wonderkid Case Keenum kept me there with his steady play that never lost a game for the Vikings.
And yet, I dared to hope with just over three minutes left that even though the Vikings were now trailing the Saints that the season wasn’t over. The Vikings have more than enough guns and for once three minutes didn’t seem like overwhelming odds.
Lets face it, the Vikings for a long time now haven’t had an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or, dare I say, Drew Brees, to lead final minute drives. And yet, this team has been different from those in the past.
There never seemed to be that desperate throwing of passes, a run game built on one man so much as to just give the playbook to the other team. There was magic here that perhaps the Vikings hadn’t seen since the days of the Purple People Eaters.
I watched Kai Forbath [quite possibly one of the best names in football] put the Vikings back on top with a needed field goal with over a minute left, forcing the Saints to drive against the top defense in the NFL.
And then — Drew Brees.
Brees seems like a nice enough guy. Doesn’t ever seem arrogant and is a guy that exemplifies sportsmanship and teamwork.
But its Drew Brees. The man pulls winning drives out of a hat and while I watched him go to work I just thought that in that moment I really disliked Drew Brees.
He shredded the Vikings defense and so the next thought was … “all right, here we go again,” followed right after that by, “Timberwolves are looking pretty good,” and “Why didn’t I bake that pie?”
The field goal to take the lead back came at a little over 20 seconds remaining and I began to see the writing on the wall.
The Vikings only needed to get to field goal distance and the kick would earn them the win, but even with a good chunk of yardage on the first snap and the call of Minnesota’s final timeout, I knew.
Vikings fans over the years have gotten good at just knowing. All the belief in the world, all the hope can’t surmount the feeling of just knowing when something is over.
And so, like any adult man my age in situations like this, I called my mom.
It’s not as dramatic as you think. I talk to my parents every weekend.
My mom answered and with a slight snicker of a woman who isn’t as invested in professional football as much, asked, “You’re not watching the game?”
“No,” I answered simply with the sigh of a man resigned to Fate’s dealing of a handful of jokers. “I know where this is going.”
I was sitting in my recliner, exchanging pleasantries with mom, resigned to the final moments as they played out, until … actually this is how the conversation went.
Mom: “Pretty good,” in answer to my question of how she was doing. “I … “
Me: “Holy *expletive* they’re going to win.”
Stunned disbelief as I watched the most missed tackle in the history of football and receiver Stefon Diggs’ race to the end zone for the remarkably unbelievable win that puts the Vikings up there with the Immaculate Reception.
For the first time in so many years the Vikings did to another team what had been done to us so many times before.
We were the winners for once and now Minnesota is one game away from the Super Bowl, in their own house.
I can almost hear Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” on a ghostly breeze.
I’m going into Sunday’s 5:40 p.m. game with a shifty amount of hope though. I feel conniving in a way, as if the Vikings are about to pull off the heist of the century. “Ocean’s 11” like.
But, maybe for the first time in so long, it’s actually okay to believe the Vikings are the team. So many great storylines are falling into place. The third-string quarterback hero, the feeling it had been done to us so many times, the biggest game of the year in our house.
Dare I dream like so many others?
Or do I grapple with continued doubt?
One game at a time, I suppose, and perhaps now the Vikings recognize and fix the mistakes and demons of long past.
I know I will. I will bake that pie.
Apple, if you care.