It was not supposed to end like this, not the final season of Vikings football at Mall of America Field (the Metrodome), which opened in 1982. The Cleveland Browns traded away their best player, running back Trent Richardson, mid-week to the Indianapolis Colts for the Colts number-one 2014 NFL Draft pick. Big trades are rare indeed during an NFL season. In fact, I can remember only one when the Vikings traded six players and six draft picks to Dallas for Herschel Walker.
The deal gave the impression that the Browns had given up on 2013 and would come to Minneapolis and get spanked by the hungry Vikings. After all, the Vikings had outscored the Browns coming into
Sunday by a margin of 54-16. If that’s what the Vikings were thinking, they were deceived-hoodwinked-bamboozled.
The Browns beat the Vikings 31-27; they outplayed them, handing them their third straight loss. For the second straight game, the Vikings had the lead in the final minute of the game and gave up the game-winning touchdown.
The Browns’ Brian Hoyer, making his first start at quarterback, threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns to tight end Jordan Cameron, including the game winner with 0.51 seconds left. For the Vikings, same old story — they led early and late-scored first but failed to finish the game. Again the Vikings forced more turnovers (4-3) but still lost.
It was the third straight game the Vikings allowed an opponent to score 30 points or more: Detroit 34-24 and Chicago 31-30; seldom do you win in the NFL when that happens. Quarterback Christian Ponder ran for two touchdowns but again missed several open receivers and threw an interception. His QB rating is not good at 66.0; he’s thrown five interceptions and just two touchdown passes.
Adrian Peterson, the MVP, ran for 88 yards on 25 carries and grabbed six passes for 27 yards; he also had another costly fumble. The Vikings are not consistent on special teams. And they are not making opponents pay on defense for stacking the box and blitzing against Peterson to control the running game. They allowed the Browns to deceive them twice at critical times for big plays, once on a punt for 34 yards and with a fake field goal. The Browns got 10 points out of those two plays. Including last year’s playoff loss to Green Bay, the Vikings have lost four in a row.
This week the Vikings travel to London to play the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers in the International Series. Kickoff is 12 pm Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. Certainly the NFL did not think when this game was arranged for the world to see that both teams would be 0-3.
Things got even worse for Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf this week. Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson has ordered them to pay $84.5 million in damages. The New Jersey judge found that the Vikings owners committed fraud-breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and violated state civil racketeering law resulting from a 1992 real estate deal. The Wilfs have the right to appeal the ruling.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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