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The song remains the same for Vikings

January 20, 2000

If it's January, it must be time again to write about the Minnesota Vikings' annual collapse in the NFL playoffs.

I would just stick last year's column in this space and wager you couldn't tell the difference, but I lost it. Shame to say, however, the song remains the same.

Yes, the only sports team I really follow with a passion broke out on top of the St. Louis Rams 3-0 on their way to giving up 14 points in the next three plays and 49 points overall in the conference semi-finals.

Now I know a lot of people will say "You should just be happy your team made it to the playoffs," but I am here to say that this phrase is the mating call of the loser. Well, that and actually losing.

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The Vikings violated my prime directive this year, which is "never trust a man with two first names." So when they turned the ball over to Jeff George, I knew we were in trouble.

(Speaking of names, you have to feel for the yearbook staff at South High, which had Gov. Parris Glendening down as Gov. Glenn Denning. Memo to the yearbook staff at South: Don't feel so bad. I have done much, much worse.)

The Vikes actually came back and had a 17-14 lead at halftime, which is a cruel thing they do to fuel my delusion that "this might be their year."

(No, yearbook staff, I'm not going to tell you what it was.)

Fortunately they put me out of my misery fast in the second half starting with the kickoff, which the Rams ran back for a touchdown. This play set a National Football League record for being the only kickoff return all season not to be nullified by an illegal block in the back.

(Oh, all right, it involved Mack union rep Bill Casstevens.)

On the very next drive, the Vikings were halted by a bad call that negated a first-down catch by Cris Carter. All you football fans know how this works. If Carter gets credit for this catch, the Vikings go down and score to take the lead back and it inspires their defense to prevent those five extra Ram touchdowns, which prevents the offense from fumbling eight consecutive times inside their own 10 yardline and the V-men go on to win the game.

Sports fans are good rationalizers. As one of our editors said in reference to the Redskins' loss last weekend, if the ball had made it cleanly to the holder on that last-second field goal try, it would have meant that instead of getting all huffy and firing their center, the Skins probably would have fired their kicker.

(I mean, it sounds so natural, "Now introducing, Mr. Cas Stevens.")

A quick break here for all you ladies who have patiently been wading through this column knowing that it is my policy to always include a handy household tip in any sports-related article I write, just so you don't feel left out.

And this week's tip comes to you courtesy of The Herald-Mail's city editor, who suggests adding a cup of applesauce to your meatloaf to help keep it moist. Although don't make the same mistake I did, which was to add too much applesauce, which left me with a finished product that, as loafs go, was about two cloves shy of a fruitcake.

But because of this one mistake (the official's call, not the meatloaf) I must engage my annual January refrain of wait 'til next year. I just know they will find a defense between then and now.

And it could be worse. If you notice that I'm writing my annual Vikings-are-out-of-it column in November, you will know I've hit rock bottom.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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