December 2, 2016

Great defensive effort wasted in Vikings loss to Cowboys, 17-15

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:41

The Dallas Cowboys visited Minnesota on Thursday night, bringing their NFL-best record and a ten-game winning streak. They left town with their streak still intact, but it came down to the last minute of the game to secure the win.

With Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer resting at home after emergency eye surgery, special teams co-ordinator Mike Priefer was acting head coach, to allow offensive co-ordinator Pat Shurmur and defensive co-ordinator George Edwards to concentrate on their respective areas of responsibility. The Vikings got a few key players back from injury, with wide receiver Stefon Diggs and cornerback Terence Newman both suited up for the game.

The game was very close from start to finish, which meant that minor miscues could have huge ramifications on the scoreboard. I missed most of the first quarter, but my Twitter feed provided all the “T.J. Clemmings is garbage” content during that time to assure me that things were back to their putrid normal on the offensive line. Cowboys quarterback phenomenon was shown to be merely human through most of the game, and his biggest contributions to keeping drives alive were on scrambles (aided by some pretty blatant holding on the offensive line, especially against Brian Robison).

Both of the Cowboys’ touchdowns came after a minor glitch gave Dallas an opportunity and they were able to capitalize. Other than that, the Vikings defence kept the lid on all game. One was a mistake in coverage, as Harrison Smith was too aggressive in covering Dez Bryant, and the second was a fumbled punt by Adam Thielen deep inside Viking territory.


September 11, 2016

Jim Souhan explains why the Vikings are interesting (for all the wrong reasons)

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:42

Later today, the Vikings will kick off the 2016 regular season against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The season hadn’t started before they’d already lost their rising star quarterback for the year, traded away a first round pick in the 2017 draft, and just generally been historically Viking-like … at least according to Jim Souhan at the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

On my first assignment covering the NFL, I listened to new Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gleefully discuss replacing legend Tom Landry with a brash college coach named Jimmy Johnson while promising to oversee every aspect of the Cowboys’ organization “from socks and jocks.”

Later that year in Dallas, Buddy Ryan made fun of Johnson’s hair and put out an unofficial bounty on the Cowboys kicker, and then Johnson traded Herschel Walker to Minnesota for a dozen players and draft picks and 5,000 lakes.

Then, I left Dallas for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and found out that the Cowboys could not match the masters of American sports drama. The Minnesota Vikings are the kings of interesting.

Two weeks ago, the Vikings were inspiring justified optimism while demonstrating organizational stability and unveiling a new stadium that reminds everyone within eyesight of downtown Minneapolis that the NFL dominates American sports.

Then Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee while making a throw during a practice and without getting hit, and the Vikings traded a first-round draft pick and another high pick for another team’s starting quarterback.

The events were shocking only if you expect normalcy.

Remember, this is a franchise that gave you the Love Boat, the Original Whizzinator, a kicker being accused and acquitted of drug smuggling charges, a coach threatening to sue his owners, Randy Moss’ Book of Memorable Memes, Moss’ Lambeau goalpost butt rub, a coach scandalized for scalping Super Bowl tickets, Brad Childress’ quarterback wars, helicopters circling above Brett Favre’s arrival, excruciating NFC title game losses, the Bounty on Brett, Joe Webb starting a playoff game, Adrian Peterson breaking records and wielding switches and Percy Harvin throwing a weight at a coach.

There are NFL teams that have been relentlessly uninteresting, like the Titans, and those that have attracted interest by winning, like the Packers and Patriots. The Vikings may stand alone when it comes to attracting interest while not winning it all.

August 30, 2015

Vikings beat Dallas 28-14 to keep preseason winning streak alive

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:10

I sat down in front of the TV last night, expecting to watch the Vikings at the Cowboys, but after scrolling through the 500+ listings on Rogers, they were only showing one preseason game, and that was the Seattle versus San Diego contest. I ended up watching the NFL Network in order to catch the odd play and keep up with the scores. By the time I got to see any of the game I was interested in, Teddy Bridgewater and the first team offense had already handed over to the backups.

Unless he plays in the final preseason game, that gives Teddy a preseason stat line of 7-for-7 and 76 yards in this game and 29 of 35 for 295 yards and a TD with no interceptions over four games. That’s a completion rate of 82.8%, which would be very impressive if he carries that over into the regular season. He’d said earlier this week that his season goal is to complete 70% of his passes.

In the various final roster predictions that have been showing up in the fan pages lately, a popular “hot taek” has been that Cordarrelle Patterson was on the bubble and might not make the team. Then he does something like this and reminds everyone why teams didn’t want to kick to him if they could possibly avoid it. That’s a 107-yard kick return for a Vikings TD.


July 4, 2015

Which NFL team is the most AMERICA?

It’s the bitter end of the off-season in the NFL: everyone is waiting for training camps to open and there’s no football news at all (except disciplinary announcements). To help fill these empty days, Dave Rappoccio ranks all 32 NFL teams by how AMERICA they are:

32. Bills
Buffalo is basically Canada


15. Vikings
Yes, they are Norsemen, but charging into villages, burning everything to the ground and ruining lives is totally American as hell.


5. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are very AMERICA. Bald Eagles? Hell yes, slap our big ass scary national bird on it. The face on the logo faces left! Totally different than every other logo, a special snowflake, just like we think we are! It’s angry, SO AMERICA. They are based in Philadelphia, which was literally our capital city for a while! The liberty bell is there! Why aren’t they higher? Because the Eagles ain’t won sh*t, and America wins sh*t.

4. The Patriots
Giant annoying bullies who talk stupid and are too proud of themselves, so much so that they make their own rules, man. So America.

3. The Cowboys
What? How are they not no. 1? Because no matter how gloriously American the cowboy is, The Cowboys are loyal to Texas, and Texas would be its own country if we let it.

2. The Steelers
Fat, angry, out of work industrial giants. Go America.

1. The Redskins
The Redskins? First? Why? Think about it. They are the actual first Americans. If you want to look at it a different way, the Skins represent all the shaming and systematic oppression of those people, the most American way to treat others! Plus how we totally ignore them and forget to change the name! They are based in Washington DC, the capital of the country, and is run by a greedy capitalistic megalomaniac with no regard for others but claims to support “traditions” which are actually offensive! Plus, we haven’t actually been all that great since the 90s and we have horrible gun related tragedies all the time (Sean Taylor). That is ‘MERCA as Sh*t.

November 4, 2013

Vikings lose to Cowboys in last-minute TD drive

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:01

The 27-23 result won’t surprise anyone who saw any Viking games earlier this season, although the score was closer than you (or the bookies) might have expected. With so many key players missing in Minnesota’s secondary, the Cowboys were supposed to keep the scoreboard numbers spinning, but the game was close right down to the final drive. It’s that final drive — where the Vikings couldn’t force a stop — that has been the signature of this year’s team.

With yesterday’s loss, the Vikings have now matched the worst start to a season in franchise history (1-7 was also the 1961 team’s opening record) — and will host Washington on Thursday night for an attempt to make it their worst all-time start. Adrian Peterson had his best performance in over a month, rushing for 140 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. Christian Ponder’s last-gasp Hail Mary fell short, but his stats were respectable: 25 of 37 for 236 yards, one touchdown and one interception (82.7 QB rating) and a rushing TD of his own. Kicker Blair Walsh had his first career missed extra point after Peterson’s TD run, but the single point didn’t make any difference in the final result. It may have influenced the coaching decision to punt rather than attempting a 54-yard field goal later in the game (post-game, Leslie Frazier said that Walsh’s hamstring injury was the actual reason for not trying the long FG).

Over the course of the game, the Vikings lost even more players to injury, with right guard Phil Loadholt suffering a concussion, tight end Kyle Rudolph injuring his ankle on his touchdown reception, nose tackle Letroy Guion had a shoulder injury, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes being injured in a collision with linebacker Chad Greenway. Rhodes attempted to return to the game, but left after just one play.

At The Viking Age, Dan Zinski says this “has become a nightmare sort of season”:

For a minute it looked like the Vikings might pull off a stunning, draft-position-ruining upset over the Cowboys. The Vikings were trailing 20-17 early in the fourth when Adrian Peterson went into full-on beast mode, ripping off a 52-yard run to put Minnesota in scoring range, then hitting paydirt on an absolutely filthy tackler-dragging monster of an effort. By force of Peterson’s will alone the Vikes took a 23-20 lead, then watched their kicker Blair Walsh miss the extra point to keep the Cowboys within a field goal.

But momentum quickly swung back in the Vikings’ favor when on the ensuing Cowboys possession A.J. Jefferson picked off Tony Romo on a sideline pass. The Vikes had a chance to ice the game away there but came up short and elected to punt rather than have Blair Walsh try a 54-yard field goal. Was this the right move? Walsh has hit plenty of 50-plus yarders in his young career, but he’s also had hamstring problems, and he had just missed a PAT wide right. Leslie Frazier did not have faith in his young kicker to boot it through and rather than give the Cowboys good field position he elected to pin them.

In the end it wouldn’t matter. The Cowboys got the ball back with plenty of time and did what you were almost certain they would. Tony Romo worked the ball rather easily down the field against the Vikings’ defense and the Cowboys were finally able to stick it in when Romo hit Dwayne Harris on a 7-yard TD pass. The Vikes got the ball back in decent field position after a short kickoff but were unable to get into position and had to settle for a Christian Ponder final-second hail mary that fell well short.

The Daily Norseman‘s Eric Thompson says the Vikings played their best game of the season yesterday:

I know the headline sounds like it was something from The Onion Sports or Sports Pickle, but it’s sadly true.

When you think about it, Sunday’s game against the Cowboys was the best of both worlds for the two major camps of Vikings fans. On one hand, you have the #TankForTeddy, #MissionMariota, #SuckForTheDuck, and #JohhnyFootballGoesToMinnesota fans that know the season is already lost and don’t want any pesky wins screwing up our 2014 draft position. They were satisfied because the Vikings lost again. On the other hand you have the fans that can’t stand the team laying down and getting blown out every week. They were satisfied because the Vikings actually played pretty well against a division leader on the road.

I get that many Vikings fans that don’t mind the losses since it could eventually lead to a better future for the team: better draft picks, new coaches, an overhaul of a largely inept roster. But you guys realize that we’re only halfway through the season, right? Are you sure that you can endure eight more weeks of this crap? Because I certainly wouldn’t mind a win or two sprinkled in with all the misery.

November 3, 2013

Jim Souhan – It’s time to tank, Vikings!

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:29

In today’s Star Tribune, Jim Souhan makes a strong case for the Vikings to deliberately tank the rest of the 2013 season:

Let’s give the Vikings the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are trying to lose.

There is no reason to play Christian Ponder in a tackle football game unless you’re aggressively pursuing the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

While Vikings fans spend today watching Ponder run for 5 yards on third-and-10, remember that this, too, shall pass, even if the Vikings can’t.

Starting 1-6 should prompt Vikings management to orchestrate the first one-win season in franchise history.

It’s important to set goals.

Losing big doesn’t guarantee future success, but it gives an intelligent management team a chance. That’s been proved in every sport, every decade, and the best example of losing to win might belong to the franchise the Vikings will face today in Texas.

In 1989, Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys and hired Jimmy Johnson as his coach. Texans were appalled at Jones’ glib firing of the legendary Tom Landry, and at Jones’ clownish demeanor. Jones actually said he would be in charge of all phases of football from “socks to jocks,” even though Jones’ football experience was limited to playing in college and watching on television.

The JJs played up their chances of winning immediately. Then Johnson got halfway through his first preseason game and ditched all immediate ambition.

He tanked his first season, trading away his only name player, Herschel Walker, before finishing 1-15. He used prime draft slots and the bounty from the Walker deal to build a roster that won three Super Bowls and might have won more if Jones hadn’t fired him.

If the Cowboys had tried to contend in 1989, they might not have considered trading Walker, and wouldn’t have drafted near the top of each round. Inept play and intelligent management led to championships.

An interesting theory, but I really doubt that the Vikings are deliberately failing (although it would explain a few things like the quarterback controversy), and as with any conspiracy theory it’s hard to believe that such a design wouldn’t be leaked by at least a few disgruntled players and/or coaches (since the coaching staff is most likely to be negatively impacted by a terrible season).

I’d love to see the Vikings draft a genuine franchise quarterback next year, but I don’t want the team to quit playing this year.

October 28, 2012

The Two Scotts pick this week’s NFL matchups

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:55

Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk get serious about something … but not football, of course:

New York Giants (plus 2) at Dallas

Scott Reid: I have no way of knowing but I like to imagine that deep down, Tony Romo and Eli Manning loathe one another.

Romo’s hatred would be all bound up in his feelings of insecurity and gross inadequacy (not unlike your own feelings toward me, Mr. Feschuk). Manning probably just hates the dimples. My fondest hope is that deep in the fourth quarter of this week’s matchup – after the Giants gain a 10-point lead – Romo breaks down on television and begins to sob uncontrollably, confronted with the awful truth that he’ll never best his rival. Manning, meanwhile, will make Jessica Simpson jokes and snicker about the hands-off approach of John Mara. Eventually Romo cracks completely and beats Manning savagely with a Gatorade bottle – leaving Eli dead and himself condemned to a life behind bars. In no way would this scenario make Mike Vick the best starting quarterback in the NFC East. Pick: New York.

Scott Feschuk: That’s all very interesting but I have a more important question: What man would ever agree to date Taylor Swift? You’d have to know right from the get-go that everything that happens is basically fodder for her next three albums, right? Wouldn’t it get awkward pretty quick?

You and Taylor Swift are in bed.

You: That was amazing. Let’s do it again.

[Swift opens her journal and starts writing.]

You: What are you doing?

Taylor: Oh, nothing. What rhymes with horndog?

You: Are you writing a song about me and our relationship?

Taylor: What? No. No, of course not!

You: Then who are these guys? [Points to drummer, guitarist and fiddler in bed with them.]

Taylor: Take five, fellas. I need to work on the bridge anyways.

Pick: New York.

August 28, 2011

Cowboys 23 Vikings 17 in 3rd preseason match-up

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:07

The game was not being broadcast in my area, so all the information I had was via Twitter updates.

Vikings’ scratches for tonight’s game were Asher Allen (CB), Toby Gerhart (RB), Kenny Onatolu (LB), Ross Homan (LB), Heath Farwell (LB), Visanthe Shiancoe (TE), and Kevin Williams (DT). No surprises in any of those names.

This was the first start for Anthony Herrera, who suffered a torn ACL late last season. I hope he gets back into his game quickly, as the offensive line has been an area of concern even before Bryant McKinnie was released. Letroy Guion took the first team snaps for Kevin Williams, who is suffering from a lingering foot issue (plantar fasciitis).

Some positions are still tightly contested, including two (or three) wide receiver slots (take your pick of Camarillo, Aromashodu, Arceneaux, Iglesias, and Jaymar Johnson), strong safety (Tyrell Johnson, Jamarca Sanford, and Mistral Raymond), and dime cornerback (Asher Allen, Marcus Sherels, and Tony Carter). If any of them distinguish themselves tonight, it’ll be a big step towards making the 53-man roster.

Among the folks not able to attend the game: Zygi Wilf, the majority owner of the team. He lives in New Jersey and was prevented from getting to the game by Hurricane Irene (it’s only the second home game he’s missed since purchasing the team in 2006).

The first score of the game was a 49-yard pass from Donovan McNabb to Bernard Berrian for a TD. Dallas defender Abram Elam nearly had the pick, but the ball went through his hands.

On the Cowboys’ next series, there was a scary moment for Vikings fans as starting cornerback Antoine Winfield went down after hitting Jason Witten. Winfield did not return to the field, but he described the injury as a “stinger”. Dallas scored a field goal on the drive, putting the score at 7-3 Vikings.

The Cowboys went ahead on a blocked field goal attempt when Kyle Rudolph missed a block on Orlando Scandrick. The ball was picked up and run in for the score by Alan Ball. 10-7 Cowboys.

On the following series, McNabb’s pass to Kleinsasser was tipped by defensive end Jason Hatcher and intercepted by safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Dallas turned that into a 17-7 lead on a TD by Felix Jones, powering through Tyrell Johnson and Cedric Griffin. (Tom Pelissero thought that Johnson may have lost his chance to stay with the team on a missed interception and poor tackling on the TD run.)

Cord Parks, who I was impressed with in the first two preseason games, has a nice return on the kick-off, putting the Vikings offence back in business on the Dallas 42-yard line. Unfortunately, Percy Harvin dropped a pass on third down, forcing a Ryan Longwell field goal to move the score to 17-10.

Christian Ballard got a sack inside the two-minute warning, to force a Dallas punt (his second sack in three games). At the half, the score was still 17-10 for Dallas.

The Vikings’ first team stayed in the game for one series, then gave way to the second team, led by Joe Webb. Dallas added a field goal on the following series. Webb completed a 43-yard pass to Manny Arceneaux, then followed that up with a rushing TD to move the score to 20-17.

Christian Ponder came in to the game with just over five minutes left to play, then had a bad exchange with center Brandon Fusco. Dallas moved the score to 23-17 on the next series, with a field goal by Dan Bailey.

That ended up being the final score. Significant stats were Donovan McNabb’s 12 of 18 passes for 164 yards, with one TD and one INT, Bernard Berrian with two passes for 64 yards (and a TD), and Adrian Peterson with 11 carries for 69 yards.

October 22, 2010

Percy Harvin starting to get the respect of opponents

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:56

Although I was watching the game, I didn’t notice this little drama:

In Sunday’s 24-21 victory over the Cowboys, the Vikings put Harvin in the backfield seven times. That includes two plays that were negated by penalties and another play the Cowboys quickly aborted.

With the score tied 21-21 with 6 minutes, 12 seconds left, the Vikings lined up at the Dallas 23-yard line. They had three receivers bunched near right, Randy Moss wide left and Harvin standing beside Brett Favre in the shotgun.

The sight of Harvin in the backfield caused not one, not two, but four Cowboys defenders to signal for a timeout. The Vikings went to a different formation after the timeout.

“Dallas probably didn’t have the personnel in the game to deal with that,” backup running back Albert Young said. “That’s the kind of mismatch that can catch a team off-guard. But I don’t think people will be caught off-guard anymore after seeing that one.”

When a player appearing in a different position causes the defenders to panic, you know that player is considered highly dangerous.

October 18, 2010

Vikings outlast Cowboys for 24-21 win

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:42

Yesterday’s game showed a lot of both the good and bad of this year’s Vikings team. They made fewer mistakes than in previous weeks, and (as always) got a great performance from their defence, but displayed yet another inconsistent offensive effort.

I didn’t see the first few series, tuning in with the score level at 7-7. It was yet another forgettable first half for Brett Favre and the offense, and they went into the locker room at the half down 14-7. According to Judd Zulgad, it was Randy Moss who gave the inspirational half-time speech to the troops:

Randy Moss departed the home locker room Sunday without talking to reporters. The mercurial wide receiver had five receptions for 55 yards in his first game as a Viking at Mall of America Field since 2004, and thus his silence did not come as a surprise.

It turned out, however, that Moss’ refusal to speak did not extend to venting at his teammates at halftime of the Vikings’ 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Moss, who rejoined the Vikings in an Oct. 6 trade with New England, let it be known that he had seen enough after watching a second consecutive opening half of offensive ineptitude from his new team.

“I think it was a matter of fact, what we needed to hear,” quarterback Brett Favre said after the Vikings improved to 2-3 and dropped Dallas to 1-4. “It wasn’t anything scientific. It had a couple of choice words in it that I’d rather not use.”

Whatever Moss said, it worked.

Percy Harvin showed that he’d been paying attention to Moss, taking the second-half kickoff back for a touchdown, tying the score at 14-14. Adrian Peterson scored a short-yardage TD a series later, giving the Vikings their first lead of the game.

The Cowboys responded with a TD pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, victimizing backup cornerback Lito Sheppard, who appeared to be trying for the interception instead of the pass break-up. The final points of the game were a field goal by Ryan Longwell, which was set up by E.J. Henderson’s second interception of the game (and only the fourth of his career).

Update: I think this AP photograph by Andy King, published by the Pioneer Press clearly shows Sheppard’s attempt to catch the pass:

If he’d just gone for the block or deflection, I think he’d have broken up the pass nicely.

October 17, 2010

Another playoff rematch . . . of 1-3 teams

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:40

Minnesota will host the Dallas Cowboys today in a rematch of their playoff meeting earlier this year. At that time, both teams were expected to challenge for the SuperBowl again this season. Both teams, however, are seriously underperforming:

Dallas (1-3), Minnesota (1-3)
The bomb shelter alarms have already sounded for two presumed playoff contenders, and most football fans are loving it. Even more exciting, the teams play each this Sunday in the Failure Bowl. Or the Freakout Bowl. Or the Lehmann Brothers Bowl of Shame presented by Bear Stearns. Anyway, there’s a decent chance someone gets fired afterward. Place your wagers!

Chip Scoggins thinks the real reason for both teams’ lousy record is the turnover ratio:

Opinions vary on the reasons behind the disappointing starts for both teams, but talent is certainly not the issue. Their rosters are littered with Pro Bowl players. That makes the situation even more frustrating.

“Dallas is full of talent [so] I don’t think they thought they’d be 1-3,” Vikings nose tackle Pat Williams said. “We’re full of talent and I for sure never thought we’d be 1-3. But that’s the cards that are dealt. We have to get out of this hole ourselves. We can’t blame nobody but ourselves.”

If you’re looking for a common dominator, it’s turnover margin. Every coach points to that statistic as a telltale sign of a team’s success, and both the Vikings and Cowboys rank among the league’s worst in this area.

The Vikings are tied for 30th at minus-6; Dallas is No. 27 at minus-4. The teams have combined for only eight takeaways compared with 18 turnovers.

October 16, 2010

The 21st anniversary of the NFL’s biggest trade

Filed under: Football, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:17

Remember the Herschel Walker trade? Where the Vikings gave up just about everything to obtain a top-flight running back? It was such a big trade that Minnesotans joked that the NHL’s North Stars moving to Dallas was the final part of the deal (“joked” in the gallows humour style). The trade happened 21 years ago, and it gutted the Vikings for at least five years:

[T]he Vikings of 1989 vintage believed they were a running back away from being a Super Bowl contender. The Cowboys, under first-year owner Jerry Jones, were going nowhere. Yet, they had a marketable star named Herschel Walker who, as it would turn out, could fetch a king’s ransom in trade. The Vikings had nine Pro Bowlers on their roster — even though guys like Wade Wilson, while a Pro Bowl selection, weren’t really Pro Bowlers in the truest sense of the word — and all that was missing was a big-play guy who could make a difference.

What followed was the NFL equivalent to a burglary. The trade cost the Vikings five live bodies (RB Darrin Nelson, CB Issiac Holt, DE Alex Stewart and LBs Jesse Solomon and David Howard) and three first-round, three second-round and two third-round picks in return. It hamstrung the Vikings organization for five years and turned Dallas from a joke to the kingpin of the NFL. Walker, although talented, wasn’t anywhere close to being worth what the Vikings gave up to get him. That trade transformed the Cowboys from a 1-15 team to a Super Bowl champ and set the Vikings back for years, denying them the top draft choices that could re-stock their own shelves.

For all their bravado and claims to be “America’s Team,” the Cowboys’ rise to the top of the NFL in the early 1990s was a direct result of the Walker trade. They were more Minnesota’s team, or at least Minnesota’s former players and draft picks, than anything.

The trade was so big that I still find it incredible that the Vikings ownership were willing to give up so much for a single player, no matter how talented. They gambled that Walker was the missing ingredient to a SuperBowl team, and lost . . . big.

The Wikipedia entry for Walker includes this information:

In 1989, at the height of his NFL career, the Cowboys traded Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a total of five players (LB Jesse Solomon, DB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, LB David Howard, DE Alex Stewart) and six draft picks (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson). This was judged to be one of the turning points in the rise of the Cowboys to the top echelon of the NFL. Nicknamed the “HWT” (Herschel Walker Trade), Walker’s trade was widely perceived as an exceptionally poor move considering what the Vikings had to give up in order to get him, and remains one of the most frequently vilified roster moves of the team’s history. The Vikings coaches reluctantly accepted Walker after the trade and never totally used the tool they had been given. Scout.com says, “Walker was never used properly by the coaching brain trust.” “Herschel the Turkey,” a mocking “honor” given out by the Star Tribune newspaper to particularly inept or disgraceful Minnesota sports personalities, is named for him.

Walker played for the Vikings for two and a half years, never amassing 1,000 rushing yards in a season. His rights were then acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles, and, subsequently, the New York Giants. Eventually, he was re-acquired by the Cowboys, where he was used not only as a running back but as a flanker and other offensive positions as well. In addition to running and catching passes, Walker was also often used to return kickoffs throughout his career.

[. . .]

While Herschel Walker’s NFL career was certainly notable, it was also a disappointment from the standpoint that he never played on a championship team. High expectations were placed on him due to his extraordinary college career and the dollar amount of his trade to the Minnesota Vikings. Many of those expectations were never realized. The move to Minnesota was the turning point in his NFL tenure. In 2008, the trade was selected by SI.com as the number one worst sports trade of all time. It was also the subject of an episode of ESPN Classic’s The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…

October 15, 2010

The Two Scotts both pick Minnesota over Dallas

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:28

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Feschuk-Reid affair without some light banter:

Dallas (plus 1.5) at Minnesota

Reid: I’ve always thought that when a girl plays hard to get, it’s time to start sending her up-close photos of your bait and tackle. On the field, Favre may be guided by pure instinct but off the field he appears to be a careful thinker. Shrewd strategies designed to achieve maximum impact. That’s what I take away from this entire Deadspin affair. And like Wade Phillips, I look forward to seeing how Tony Romo blows this game in the fourth quarter. Pick: Minnesota.

[. . .]

Feschuk: Favre got nailed in the bag with a pigskin during practice this week, and that’s not even a euphemism. Clearly, the football gods are taking rare pleasure in delivering the gunslinger’s comeuppance. The video of Favre taking one in the tenders was funny enough on its own, but even funnier in this treatment by the folks at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

Pick: Minnesota.

An alternate interpretation of the video was from Mark Craig who suggested that it was “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (not pictured) visited Winter Park today to deliver his punishment to the future Hall of Fame quarterback.”

January 19, 2010

TMQ’s view of the Minnesota-Dallas playoff game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 13:05

I don’t always agree with Gregg Easterbrook, but I always find him an interesting writer. Here’s some of his observations on the Vikings-Cowboys game:

Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees — the run-up to Title Weekend is sure to focus on them. For my money, the Colts, Jets, Saints and Vikings made the championship round because they have the league’s four best offensive lines.

Ninety percent of the action in football occurs away from the ball. When Jersey/B runners burst into the clear, or Favre casually dissects a defense, what’s going on is terrific blocking. Manning was sacked less than any other NFL quarterback this season because the Colts’ offensive line is tremendous. The Jets are in the championship round because of the holes their blockers open. The Vikings’ and Saints’ offensive lines both pass-block and run-block equally well, which is a rare combination. The TV commentators will be watching the glory boys holding the football. I’ll be watching the offensive lines. All four are tremendous.

[. . .] between a first-ever chance to host an NFC title game, and the travails of the city of New Orleans, there will be more energy in the Superdome on Sunday than in Iron Man’s pulse reactor. The sheer atmosphere-power within the facility may exceed the crowd feeling of any other game in NFL history. The Vikings are 9-0 at home this season, and 4-4 on the road — the only quality team they beat on the road was the Packers. NFL players are not intimidated by crowd noise. But it won’t just be crowd noise, it will be energy. The Vikings face an uphill climb.

Adrian Peterson — remember him? He hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game since Nov. 15. The New Orleans run defense is weak, while its pass defense is strong. A conservative, rush-oriented game plan might be just what the doctor ordered considering New Orleans’ personnel and the need to keep the Saints’ league-leading offense off the field. But with Brett Favre and Brad Childress both preoccupied with pumping up Favre’s stats (see below) will Minnesota be able to bring itself to do the smart thing and use a conservative game plan?

When the Saints have the ball, you just never know what is going to happen. They probably don’t either, which is the joy of watching this team. When attention turns to the Vikings, all eyes are on Favre. But what makes Minnesota special is the best pair of lines in the league. The offensive line is stout, the defensive line is fantastic. The Vikings just clobbered the Cowboys via superior line play — if they are to win in New Orleans, their lines will be the key.

I’m looking forward to watching the Saints-Vikings game, but Easterbrook’s praise of Minnesota is a tad overdone. The offensive and defensive lines are good, but they have had some bad outings in the last month, and the offensive line is much better at pass blocking than run blocking (Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs in the NFL, but even he can’t run if there are no running lanes opened up for him). It’s also not yet known how bad the leg injury to Ray Edwards was (no official word until tomorrow). If he can’t play, it’ll depend on Jared Allen fighting through double-team blocking without the same threat from the other side of the line.

The Brett-Favre-to-Sidney-Rice connection has been wonderful, but after Sunday’s game, New Orleans will be double-teaming Rice all afternoon. Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, and Visanthe Shiancoe will have to get open much more this week than they did this time. New Orleans is supposed to be weak against the run (they’ve jumped ahead in most games, so teams have had to throw against them to try to catch up). I hope that’s true, and that Adrian gets some good run blocking to let him do what he’s proven he can do best: hit those lanes and take it to the house.

January 17, 2010

The nailbiter-that-wasn’t

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 17:29

With most media reports emphasizing how Dallas on their five-game winning streak had the advantage over Minnesota, the results didn’t bear out the prognostications. DeMarcus Ware was going to make Phil Loadholt and Bryant McKinnie look like rag dolls. The Dallas nose tackle was going to use Vikings centre Sullivan as a welcome mat. Jason Whitten was going to have a career game against Minnesota’s notoriously bad secondary.

34-3 was the final score, clearly showing the experts knew what they were talking about.

Well, in another universe anyway. Dallas had a great start to the game, putting up lots of yards against the Vikings, while the Vikings had negative yardage. But Dallas couldn’t get into the end zone, while the Vikings started getting there on a regular basis. Brett Favre set yet another record (his 4 TD passes were a personal playoff mark), and receiver Sidney Rice was on the receiving end of three of them, the fourth going to Visanthe Shiancoe. Jared Allen made lots of noise in the Dallas backfield, drawing attention away from the other side of the line, where Ray Edwards tallied three sacks (half of the Vikings’ total in the game).

Although the Vikings’ offensive line kept Favre relatively untroubled, they still didn’t do enough to open running lanes for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Facing New Orleans for the NFC title game next week, the line had better do more to create those lanes, as the Saints are not good at defending against the run.

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