Doug Wolter: Yes, Vikings have been lucky, but luck matters in the NFL
The Minnesota Vikings seem to have luck (as well as talent) on their side this year. In the NFL, luck is important.
The Minnesota Vikings are the luckiest team in the NFL.
There. I said it.
But don’t worry about it, Purple Gang fans. It’s a good thing.
If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, then you don’t understand the nature of the NFL. It’s a league based upon the idea of parity, and where everybody knows each other like they know their sister there are relatively few surprises. A great many games aren’t decided until the very end, and the final result often comes down to a missed field goal, a fumble, an interception, or a penalty that is -- as many times as not -- a questionable judgment call.
Now don’t get me wrong about the Vikings. They’re also a very good team, and their topsy-turvy, ridiculous overtime victory over another good team -- the Buffalo Bills -- on Sunday should eliminate the heretofore general opinion that their triumphs haven’t been earned.
What’s that saying? Good teams make their own breaks.
I see that now, finally, the so-called experts are jumping on the Purples’ bandwagon. Some of them have actually put the Vikings in the top-two of their power rankings, either directly ahead or behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
OK. So the Vikings have finally “arrived.” But can it last?
In the Vikings’ case, that’s a very big question. For it to last, they have to go against their own history, which means that just when you think a Super Bowl is going to fall into their laps, they become Charlie Brown and the ball is pulled out from under them at the last second.
Let’s go back to what’s happened with the Vikings this year, week to week:
- Minnesota 23, Green Bay 7. The Packers were half-asleep, which is their usual state of mind in season openers.
- Philadelphia 24, Minnesota 7. OK, this one’s legit. The Eagles dominated.
- Minnesota 28, Detroit 24. The Lions were the better team for three and a half quarters, then inexplicably gave the game away (I believe there was an engraved invitation involved) through the worst play-calling buffoonery in the history of the league).
- Minnesota 28, New Orleans 25. Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed a 61-yard field goal on a game-tying try, bouncing it off the upright and then off the crossbar as time expired.
- Minnesota 29, Chicago 22. The Vikes struggled after a good start, but scored the game-winner with 2:26 remaining. Bears QB Justin Fields hadn’t discovered yet that he’s better running the football than throwing it.
- Minnesota 24, Miami 16. MVP candidate Tua Tagovailoa sat out this game. Third-string QB Skylar Thompson started and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater. Again, Minnesota scored late to win.
- Minnesota 34, Arizona 26. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 326 yards and three TDs. But he threw two costly second half interceptions that spoiled all that he had done previously.
- Minnesota 20, Washington 17. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins led three fourth quarter scoring drives. Kicker Greg Joseph kicked the game-winner with 12 seconds left.
- Minnesota 33, Buffalo 30 (OT). The Bills had this game won several times, but unexplainable mistakes kept the Vikings alive. Nothing more needs to be said other that it was meant to be.
Now, here’s the thing. Very few teams in this league ever get to the Super Bowl without receiving a few breaks along the way. And the Vikings have had enough awful luck over the years to last multiple lifetimes. Old-timers surely remember (and will never forget) the Cowboys’ Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson in 1975. And then there was that loss to Atlanta in the 1998 NFC championship game that could only make sense if it had happened in an alternative universe.
I could go on, but why bother?
I know. I know. Minnesota Vikings rooters all over this great land are nervous. Because of the past, they are hard-pressed to believe the football gods will continue to be in their corner. Something’s got to go horribly wrong, and it will obviously happen just when it’s least expected.
But fear not. Just because the Vikings have gotten stiffed in the past, that doesn’t mean their luck cannot hold. First of all, there are no great teams this year. Look at the Rams, the Bills, the Eagles, etc., etc. Heck, there are some people who believe that even the Lions, in a year like this one, still have a chance to make the playoffs.
And second of all, somebody HAS to be lucky all the way to the end. It might as well be Minnesota.