Sunday, October 27, 2013

Packers say good-bye to the Hump/Metro/MOA dome in stylish fashion.

Just so you know, I have nothing but admiration for the state of Minnesota. I have many good friends that call MN their home and all are excellent folk. Brother Russ (an even bigger Packer fan than I) and his lovely wife call the state their home. Great state, great people. Heck, I travel there once every year just to bike and raise money for MS and I’m more than happy to do it. My only problem with Minnesota? It’s entirely infested with Vikings fans.

Viking “fans” are the worst kind of football fans there are. Unless their team is destroying every team they face, they can’t be bothered. If they win a game, they are going to the Super Bowl. If they lose a game, their coach, QB and owner should be executed at the 50-yard line. If the season isn’t going as planned, well, they’re all hanging at the Mall of America on Sundays instead of watching the game. It’s all or nothing with Queens fans.

So when the Green Bay Packers come to town, the biggest rivalry the Vikings have, and the seats in the Hump Dome have almost as many Green-and-Gold butts in them as Purple-and-Gold, you have to question their status as “fans”. Just a bit. 

I’d love to pronounce total dominance over the hated ViQueens but I can’t get the awful taste of a sloppy Packer defense out of my mouth. The Packer D committed three penalties that directly led to 17 Viking points, over half their total on the evening. Sure, you hold Adrian Peterson to 60 yards on 13 carries smother Ponder for 149 yards on 21 attempts. Good stuff. Now go look at the scoreboard. Take away the ridiculous 109-yard kickoff run back to start the game and you let this terrible, dysfunctional offense run up 24 points on you. NOT something to be proud of.

One thing the defense did and did well was keep Greg Jennings (1 reception for 9 yards) from being a factor in the game. His best play, by far, was to be the “victim” of a phantom interference call that kept a 2nd quarter Minnesota drive alive  that resulted in their first offensive TD of the day. I was never happy that Jennings felt he had to go and play in Minnesota but hey, at least he wasn’t acting like a jerk like some ex-Packers tended to be when first they don the horned helmet. Then he started mouthing off about Rodgers and then the Packers and then, well, acting like a jerk. So a pox upon his house. You wanted a big boatload of cash? Fine. Now you get to play on a really crappy team with a merry-go-round at quarterback. Enjoy your stay and your quick slide to irrelevance! As Hienz Ward said on the pre-game, there are no All Spice commercials coming your way in Minneapolis, Greg.

I keep having to talk about the Packer running game in this space, dang it! How I yearn for the simpler days when all the Packers had was a superstar QB and a half-dozen ninja wide-outs. Oh, woe is me! Seriously, Eddie Lacy (29-for-94, 1 TD), James Starks (7-for-57, 1 TD) and Rodgers himself (6-for-31) tallied up 182 yards, two scores and huge chunks of clock-chewing. Did you see the Vikings in the third quarter? Neither did anyone else! The Packers own time of possession 13 minutes to 2 minutes. That’s just crazy talk and that was directly the result of a Packer running game that has evolved from “keep the defense honest” to “hey, we just might have something here” in just seven football games.

The aforementioned Aaron Rodgers was stellar again. He hit six different receivers (I  think I saw Jones snag a couple balls on the sidelines...) including Jordy Nelson seven times for 123 yards and two scores including a gorgeous 73-yard TD on a quick slant across the middle. You had to figure the Vikes would double him, seeing the lack of experience in the rest of the Packer pass-catching roster. Didn’t matter. Boykin had another good game as did Miles White and Andrew Quarless. This ground isn’t Jones, Cobb and Finley but they are doing a pretty fair impersonation. While we wait for guys to get healthy, these men are gaining valuable experience. I’ve said it before - come the late season and playoffs, this offense could be an unstoppable juggernaut.

The special teams, starting the day off by allowing a 109-yard kickoff return, had the look of a unit that could cost the Packers this game. Simply awful. Then Micah Hyde took a punt return 93-yards to the house. So you gotta call that even. Mason Crosby 3-for-3 including a 45-yarder, so generally you can’t cry too much.

The game tonight was the last ever Packer vs. Vikings in the Mall of America Dome, AKA The Metro Dome, AKA The Hump Dome. Too bad so many Viking fans chose to sell  their seats or just plain skip the game. I’ve never seen a football game played there in person but from all accounts, I understand it was one crappy venue for professional football. One of the worst Packer games I’ve ever watched happened when Diva Favre led his new ViQueen team onto the nappy turf in the Hump Dome and destroyed my team. Favre himself had so little success there that the TV announcers took to calling hit his personal house of horrors. Whatever. I’m sure Zygi Wilf’s extortion-based (“State of Minnesota: Kick in a billion dollars during a recession or I’m moving to LA!”) new stadium will be the most glorious thing this side of The Jerry Dome in Dallas. Of course, if you can’t sell out your current facility and you keep putting mediocre (or worse) teams in it, I can’t say I like your business model. However, as a Packer fan, I am delighted to have you at the helm.

Next Monday night we get to see Da Bears limp into a real football stadium (named after an NFL demigod, not a shopping mall) for their first tilt against the Packers this season. Missing leaders on offense (Cutler) and defense (Briggs) this Chicago team will have a decidedly odd feel to it. No brash trash talk here: Bears vs. Packers is always a knock-down-drag-out contest, whoever the players are. The Packers will be one more week healthier and one more week experienced for the younger players. I love when the Division games start stacking up! So much to play for and so much history involved. 

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