Vikings are set to make amends

The potential turnaround of the Minnesota Vikings could be the story of the week.

By WILL BENDETSON
September 19, 2006 06:47
3 minute read.
good ol' pigskin

USA football ball 88. (photo credit: )

The promotions about Eli Manning facing his brother Peyton in the Sunday Night NFL opener ran all summer on American television and they were certainly successful with a record number of viewers tuning in to watch the game. After all the opening weekend hype, NFL week two was "not too shabby," to borrow a line from Adam Sandler's Hanukka song. Sandler, himself, was on the New York Jets sideline during the Patriots/Jets game. What a week of football it was. The New York Giants came from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to win in overtime, and New York's other team nearly came back to defeat the New England Patriots. But the potential turnaround of the Minnesota Vikings could be the story of the week. It was a franchise that was marred in controversy last year after Vikings players were caught on a boat cruise with strippers. A once proud franchise became the butt of latenight jokes on American television and symbolized to many all that is wrong with professional sports. Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, who is the first Orthodox Jewish owner in NFL history, vowed to clean up the mess, giving his players a stern message: either shape up or ship out. After hiring Brad Childress as their new coach, the Vikings were not afraid to cut their most talented, yet troubled, wide receiver, Koren Robinson, after he was convicted on drunken driving charges. The message was clear: players who wanted to play for the Vikings needed to play well on the field and stay clean off the field. So far, it is hard to argue with results: the Vikings are 2-0 and have beaten two teams they were not supposed to beat. Aside from their improved attitude, the Vikings have become better at judging talent. In the NFL, finding that mid-level free agent who can produce results is the envy of every NFL general manager, and the Vikings might have found two of them. Perhaps, there is no better example than Chester Taylor, who has rushed for 88 and 113 yards in his first two games, while another Ravens castoff, Travis Taylor, caught a 36-yard pass that put the Vikings into scoring position to kick the game-winning field goal. While the Chicago Bears are still the favorite in the NFC central, they might have competition in the Minnesota Vikings. Vikings fans will find out next weekend when the Bears travel to Minnesota. Who's Hot 1. Plaxico Burress yelled at veteran Giants offensive lineman Lou Petitgout for not protecting Eli Manning during the game. Burress, however, caught the winning touchdown pass while Petitgout and his offensive line prevented blitzing Philadelphia defenders from getting to Eli Manning. Surely, the two are friends now. 2. Patriots Punter Josh Miller, a member of the tribe, punted three times for an average of nearly 53 yards. His longest was a captivating 61-yarder. The player simply gets better with age. Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi also returned and it is no surprise that the Pats defense was much better with him than without him. 3. Minnesota Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, who threw for the game's tying touchdown in the fourth quarter and then made the game winning kick in overtime. Who's Not 1. The Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff for leaving a rookie cornerback in single coverage with Plaxico Burress, 1.96 meters tall. Eagles running back Brian Westbrook's fumbling late in the fourth quarter leading to a Giants touchdown and Philadelphia's unnecessary roughness penalty that allowed the Giants to kick the game-tying field goal also did not help. 2. Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper, as the Dolphins mustered only six points against a Buffalo Bills defense that started five rookies. 3. The Oakland Raiders might be the worst NFL team in five years.


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