Who’s To Blame for the Late Letdown in the NFC Championship Game?
by Gus Jarvis
Jan 28, 2010 | 1553 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

For Brett Favre and the Vikings, it goes without saying that last weekend’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Saints in the NFC Championship is, and will forever be, a very, very tough pill to swallow. There’s nothing like having the wheels fall off your team’s victory bus just as it approaches the Super Bowl finish line. And that is exactly what happened to the men in purple late Sunday evening.

Of course, everybody wants to point the finger at 40-year-old Favre for his late game interception that caused the game to go into overtime. All Favre had to do was take advantage of the open field in front of him and run the ball four to five yards, call a timeout, and bring in the kicking unit to win the game as time expired. Instead, he scrambled to the right and forced a pass across his body (and across the field) into the hands of a defender.

An interception like this is a common mistake for rookies in the NFL, but not for veteran quarterbacks like Brett Favre, right? Well, he was rushed. He wanted to be a hero in the end. A storybook ending was in his grasp. He was living on the edge, just as he had done all year, but this time it bit him in the ass.

Brett Favre will be forever known for that terrible season-ending interception. Does it come as a surprise? Not really. This is the way Favre has played his entire career. Every coach knows that Brett’s Achilles’ Heel is the high risk pass into tight coverage. It has hurt him more times than I can count.

While Favre did throw that interception to send the game into overtime, I am certainly not blaming the loss on Favre. While a finger can be pointed for the loss, it shouldn’t be pointed at Favre.

First off, did you see the beating the old man took? His effort was as valiant as I have ever seen a quarterback endure. He played through a wretched ankle sprain and too many harsh helmet shots to his chin. He was constantly blasted onto his back. When he walked, it looked like his hips were about to fall out of place. This guy was beat up, but he played on. It’s no wonder he threw the ball when he had to scramble rather than run it. Hell, at that point in the game, even a slide would probably rattle his bones in pain. Make no mistake, Favre took an absolutely severe beating.

So maybe we should point the finger at the Vikings coaching staff for that completely unnecessary 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty (which occurred just before Favre’s interception, bringing them out of field goal range). Such a penalty in an NFC Championship game is so juvenile and so unnecessary. And it hurt so bad. Blame the coaches on that one.

I would also like to blame Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress for calling a pass when that fateful interception occurred. Run the ball with Adrian Peterson for three or four yards. Call a timeout. Kick the winning field goal.

You could blame the referees with their terrible, third down overtime pass interference call that kept the Saints’ winning drive alive. This call was among the worst I have ever seen. The New Orleans receiver was in no position to catch the ball. In fact, I am pretty sure that he and Drew Brees weren’t on the same page with that pass. It was a screw up. Yet the ref believed that the receiver could have caught the ball and that minor (very minor) contact caused him to miss the ball. A completely blown call.

The one person I want to blame the most is the Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, who can’t seem to hold on to the ball. He’s the cough up king of the NFL right now. While he rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the fifth running back in the NFL to do so in a championship game, he fumbled two times and caused a turnover when he mishandled a handoff on the Saints’ goal line. A running back in the NFL is only good if he can hold on to the ball. He can be the shiftiest, fastest, quickest, smartest running back of all time, but if he doesn’t have the mentality to hold on to the ball, he is completely worthless. As we all know, the turnover ratio is the most important statistic in a football game.

So, I guess I have to point the big finger at Peterson. He is the main reason the Vikings lost. He got benched during the game because of his fumbles. I can’t stand seeing an offensive line work hard for a running back only for the running back to cough up the ball. Favre screwed up, and he knows he did, but the man played as tough as anyone could. (For those of you wondering why I am only paying attention to the Vikings mishaps rather than the Saints successes in last weekend’s game, it’s simple: The Vikings were the better team and lost because of their own demise.

To my surprise, I loved watching Favre play football this season. He was awesome. But now, we must endure what I hate most in Favre – his slow-moving, shifty decision making process on whether or not he is going to retire. Here we go again.
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