Favre not to blame for Vikes' loss
Posted January 25, 2010
I know a lot of people want to blame Minnesota’s 31-28 loss to New Orleans Sunday night on 40-year old number four, but the real number they should be focusing on is five.
Five times the Vikings put the ball on the carpet, or field turf as the case may be, Sunday night, a number that many would consider high for an entire month, much less a three-hour period.
If you’re Adrian Peterson, how can you be the best running back in football and fail to secure the ball on a regular basis?
Sure, the third-year back out of Oklahoma didn’t lose either of his two fumbles to the Saints, but the worries they caused had an effect on play calling, personnel choices, and team confidence.
You not only lose yards when you cough up the pigskin, you lose options.
Vikings head coach Brad Childress didn’t feel comfortable giving the ball to his franchise player at critical moments of the NFC Championship Game, so he was forced to employ Percy Harvin in the backfield – the same Harvin that was questionable to even make the trip to the Bayou because of migraine headaches, and a guy who was catching screen passes from Tim Tebow last season.
Sure enough, it took Harvin exactly two plays, and one lost fumble, as the feature back to prove why most teams don’t like to lean too hard on rookies deep in the playoffs.
But, I have no sympathy in this situation for Childress – after all, despite the epic case of fumble-itis his team developed Sunday night, it was his own mismanagement of team personnel late in the game that cost his side a chance to win.
There will be hundreds of replays of Brett Favre’s ill-advised across-the-body throw ending up in Tracy Porter’s hands and not Sidney Rice’s with less than 30 seconds left in Sunday's game.
And, there’s no hiding the fact the pass immediately ended any chances of Minnesota kicking a game-winning field goal in regulation, and eventually robbed Favre of an opportunity to add another piece of jewelry to an already Hall of Fame career.
But, a lot fewer people will recall what led to that fateful toss, and that’s what takes me back to the number five - the number of yards a team is penalized for having “too many men in the huddle.”
Staring at a 3rd and 10 from the New Orleans 33-yard line, Minnesota was called for having 12 players in its huddle – just after spending a timeout.
That’s like a basketball coach calling a T.O. and then sending six players back on the court only to get nailed with a technical foul.
Apparently, Childress was trying to trick the Saints by starting with additional personnel on the field, but is that really the time to get cute?
Sure enough, the five yards Minnesota lost because of the infraction moved their possible field goal attempt from a distance of 50 yards, which was inside kicker Ryan Longwell’s range, to 55 yards, a much trickier ask.
From the 33-yard line Minnesota could run the ball up the middle, accept their likely minimal gain, and then take a shot from 150 feet away.
From the 38, you’re in a position where you need to gain yardage. Running the ball probably isn’t going to get the job done because you know the Saints are going to stack the line of scrimmage, so you’re best option is to pass.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
As a head coach you’re job is to put your players in the best possible position to win – Childress’ failure in that regard late in Sunday’s game was as visible as the bright yellow flag his ineptitude brought out of the referee’s pocket.
Those that want to blame Favre for the Vikings heading home will find their reasons, but for my money the number one reason is actually the number five.