Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vikings Earn "W" and Gain Confidence In Team

Opening day for the Minnesota Vikings may not have played out the way most of us are used to, however the Vikings played a consistent game and walked away knowing that they can beat a playoff-winning team from 2005-2006 season.

"Good teams find a way to win down the stretch," Birk said. "This is a veteran group. In the huddle, it's pretty even-keeled. Coach was just talking last night about the ebbs and flows of the game, especially on the road. You're going to have to hang in there and sneak off with one in the end."

A part of being able to sneak off with a win, came when Williamson made a grab, facing third-and-9 at the Minnesota 48-yard line. Johnson hit Williamson, who drove for the first down and drew a face mask penalty to help set up the game-winning field goal. After Williamson dropped a 59-yard touchdown pass and two shorter tosses, Johnson went to him with the game on the line. "You've got to stick with him," Johnson said. "We're going to need him."

"I took my eyes off the ball at the last second, and it just went through," Williamson stated when asked about the miss. "That's just something I need to work on. Be more patient and calm down just a little bit more. Make the routine plays." Williamson went down on record with four catches for a game-high 77 receiving yards for the night. He said one key was the support he got from teammates after his miscues. " You have to have guys that are around you that build you up," said Williamson, who also returned four kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards. "That's what some of the receivers did and my coach did to keep me up and keep me going. Things like that are going to happen. You just have to keep on running with it and make the next play."

Childress spent all summer pushing his team at training camp. They pounded on each other and now are trying to build a physical, tough-minded team that won't beat itself. Marked penalties will be addressed this week. Sharper and cornerback Antoine Winfield both stated after training camp that it was the toughest camp they've experienced. Childress played his starters for about a half in all four preseason games.

"I think it paid off tonight," Winfield said.

"This game can keep you humble," Childress said. "It got a little emotional for me after the game. You win a game like that, against a team like that and a Hall of Fame coach (Joe Gibbs), you don't always get that chance. You wouldn't usually permit yourself that. You try to be businesslike. I'm just pleased with what they accomplished. We know that there is still a ton of work to be done. Good teams play on Monday night, and good teams find a way to come back and win that following Sunday."

Today the fans delight in the victory. Just this morning, I was certain to let everyone at the bus stop with my kids know how tickled I was that our state is sporting a 1-0 team! However, for the team and the coaches, it is practice and preparation for the season home opener Sunday, against the Carolina Panthers. Back to work, this is why they get paid, not for the games they play on Sunday....that is the reward. Don't believe me? Remember the emotions that Brad Johnson showed when he made the touchdown pass to Robinson? There is passion for playing the game of football! I felt just as excited as he did! Brad Johnson is the 40th ranked QB on the pay scale this season. Johnson stated to the commentators before the game, "It is that feeling when you throw a touchdown that keeps me playing! They are going to have to throw me off the football field."

Vikings fans could be in for a lot of these close, low-scoring games this season, however, if that is how it is, the defense proved on Monday Night Football that it is ready to do its part. "We knew from the preseason that the defense was going to stop the run and be solid all around," Sharper said. "Then the offense did enough to win and didn't turn the ball over. As long as we win, it doesn't matter. We'll win close games the rest of the season."

Can we get that in writing please? Hey, any furniture store out there willing to put free furniture on the line like they did in Illinois? How about a free IPOD....Best Buy? Probably not......but I will believe every game, every time.

Our question won't be whether the defense can hold the opposition to a reasonable point total this Viking season. The defense comes out from week 1 ranked as the 11th defensive unit in the NFL. It has been a long time since we were near the top 10. Our questions will be about the offense for the first time in many years. Will the offense score enough to win the game? I believe the answer is "yes".