So, because I'm lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities, I got free access to the NFL Network product. And I'm so happy to learn that Bryant Gumbel hasn't got any cooler since he got all pissy at Letterman. (Truly a classic moment in Letterman history here)
But what about the game? With the Packers facing the Vikings, with Playoff implications aplenty! And let's just pretend that isn't all about how bad the NFC is, and pretend that these two teams are deserving of going to the playoffs--(even though Vikings have been passed on for career highs by the likes of Joey Harrington and Chad Pennington. No truth to the Rumor that Green Bay changed Favre's named Favrington. Even though the Packers have been, frankly, brutal in their offensive play).
Close game, no doubt. The victor was in doubt even in the final minutes, kind of. But in the worst way possible.
Key stat: 0 (ZERO) offensive Touchdowns. Brett Favre against an extremely porous pass defense threw two picks, both of them almost completely inexplicable (you know, classic Brett Favre interceptions). One was run back for a touchdown by Fred Smoot, of all people. There's your one (defensive) touchdown of the game.
The Packers put up 3 FG's, thanks to the charismatic foot of Dave Rayner. Of course, even in Field Goals, the Packers could only manage a 60% completion rate. They went 3 for 5, the two misses coming after the Packers had gone up 3-0. They missed chances to go up 6-0 when Rayner fell over and went boom on the wet, slippery turf, and missed a chance to go 6-0 again (or even, in the most perfect of worlds, 9-0) when Rayner kicked one that hit the left upright. To be fair, it struck that upright with a good deal of force.
It was perhaps telling that when the Packers refused to go up all of 9-0, commentators Bryant Gumbel and Cris "Really, I was a Successful NFL Player" Collingsworth noted that the Vikings were lucky to still be in it. The most they could have been down, if the Packers had hit on all cylinders, was 9 points. That, according to the commentators, would have been too much for the Vikings to overcome.
They were absolutely right to make that assumption.
Make no mistake, the Packer offense looked awful, for the most part. No one runs on the Vikings this year, which means you pass all over them to beat them, like the Dolphins and the Jets and the Patriots did. Favre couldn't really do it, with two interceptions, and he had no help from the likes of Bubba Franks who dropped passes, fumbled completed passes, and got called for holding on the goal line negating the Packer's best drive.
Did I mention that Favre threw his interception for the Touchdown when his team was up 6-0? And that he threw his second interception on the ensuing possession? Yeah. He did.
But that was nothing compared to the Vikings offense. Let's document the atrocities:
3 First Downs. Total. For the game. A new record!
Tavaris Jackson threw for 50 yards. For the game. Rookie QB who has said along he wasn't ready to play in the NFL. You can't really blame him. But man, when Cris is pointing out basic QB shit you should be doing that you aren't doing? That's a worry.
Chester Taylor ran for less than 50 yards. It is typical that a RB runs for less yardage compared to what the QB throws for, but not when the QB throws for 50 yards. I'm being unfair to Chester. He ran for 49 yards, which is only one yard less. He got that on 15 carries, which is a very solid 3.2 yards per carry. He was also the leading receiver, with 3 catches for 18 yards!
The stories (and I've seen the early copy already) is going to be about Brett Favre winning his possibly last game in Lambeau, and that's fantastic. But really, this is one of the ugliest games ever. I'm pretty sure if you gave Favre the option, he'd rather go out like Theismann than let this be his last game. That said, I can't wait for Favre to get into a booth and start commentatin'.
But again, against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, the Packers managed 0 TD's, and less than 300 yards passing, and 2 interceptions. Embarassing. If the Packers are allowed into the playoffs, the team in the AFC who doesn't make it in should be allowed to sue the NFL.
Worst Packers-Vikings game...Ever!
(and perhaps Barnyard can weigh in on how the Evil NFL and the Evil Cable companies kept this game from being watchable for the countless Packer fans who live in Madison, WI. I think they were done a favor, but Barnyard might disagree).