The stories have all been written and the outcome already well-chronicled. But for me, it doesn’t take paragraph upon paragraph of a game summary to characterize the aftermath of Sunday’s night’s NFC Championship Game.
It can be done in one word.
The Vikings 31-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Louisiana Superdome last night is agonizing for several reasons. The Vikings out-gained New Orleans 475 yards to 257. Brett Favre outplayed Drew Brees. Adrian Peterson had a great stat line (25 carries for 122 yards and 3 TDs), but more crushing fumbles. The Vikings had 31 first downs to New Orleans’ 15. We had the ball with 2 minutes and change remaining and 3 timeouts with Favre under center and the game tied.
It goes on and on.
Making matters worse is knowing that this loss will go down in Vikings history with other high-profile, big-game disappointments. The Drew Pearson Hail Mary. Four Super Bowl losses. Gary Anderson’s missed FG against Atlanta. Losing 41-0 to the Giants in the NFC title game. And now we add 12 men in the huddle to the list.
Through all of the disappointment and in spite of the agony, however, one must also credit the Vikings. They had a great season, going 12-4 to win their 2nd consecutive division title and secure a 1st-round bye. Favre had arguably his best season in the NFL. The Vikings dominated Cleveland in Week 1, pulled off a miraculous victory against San Francisco in Week 3, swept the Packers, went on a sensational 3-game tear coming out of the bye, picked up huge wins against the Bengals and Giants late in the season and dismantled the Cowboys in the Divisional Round.
But one trait that defines this Vikings team more than any other is resiliency. The team fought through adversity, from E.J. Henderson’s injury to the “schism” and everything in between. They were -4 in turnover ratio last night and yet had the game won with 19 seconds to play in regulation.
But the loss, and more specifically how the loss occurred, is agonizing.
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