I shoveled the driveway tonight when I got home from watching the Vikings game. I could not stop giggling the entire time.
Friends and family who know me will attest to this: The older I get, the more I hate dealing with the cold and snow of winter. But tonight it was a little less cold and a lot less laborious – though it did take a bit longer than it otherwise might have because I spent a fair amount of time answering text messages from friends and family.
I heard from a couple of my favorite Packers fans, a favorite Bears fan and many, many fellow Vikings fans who were, frankly, in disbelief at the ending. It would have been hard enough to believe if it had been a game in which I had no true rooting interest. It would have been much easier to believe had it been the Saints snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over Minnesota – I’ve been through that one a few times in my lifetime.
But nope, tonight I finally got to experience the thrill of a late-game, shocking playoff win. And it was all the sweeter coming against a Saints team that knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs nine years ago.
Now, even that ending didn’t come without anxiety. My first reaction after Stefon Diggs caught the ball was “Why aren’t you getting out of bounds, you dumb motherfQ#$%, so you can try to kick a field goal to win.” My second reaction a second or two later was “Holy motherfu#$%^ s#$^ball, you’re going to score a f$%^#$% touchdown! Holy f$%^& s$%^.”
Sorry – it’s not the cleanest reaction one might have, but it was exactly what was going through my mind.
We here at Zoneblitz try to maintain as unbiased an approach to our content here as possible. We acknowledge our Vikings-fandom, but we try not to wear it loudly in what we write. But Minnesota is our hometown team and we are fans. And we, to a large degree, laugh along when our friends from other cities talk about their rings or razz us about the NFC championship losses in 1987 against Washington, in 1998 against Atlanta, in 2009 against New Orleans and, to some degree, the 2000 game against the Giants, though 41-0 is, believe it or not, easier to swallow than losing in the last seconds by a touchdown or less.
At this point, we can even joke at least a little bit … well, not that much, but some … with Dallas fans who insist that Drew Pearson was in bounds on 4th and long in the waning minutes of the divisional round game right before Roger Staubach hit Pearson again on the long TD pass that coined the term Hail Mary, when the Cowboys knocked Bud Grant’s best Vikings team out of the playoffs in 1975 (admission – I was a month from being born at that point, but I’ve heard ABOUT that game from the time I was small).
But inside it makes us churn. I think it’s why, as my cousin Rich Larson wrote on his site last week, we are outwardly or inwardly more than a little bit sensitive and defensive – perhaps even paranoid – when going into a playoff game like the one today against New Orleans. The Vikings are, actually, a proud franchise with a long history of regular season success. And, hell, it’s no small feat to get to the Super Bowl four times, even though they all ended in losses and it’s been 40 years since the last one.
The team has just never been able to close the deal. We want it like crazy, but at this point we’ve been programmed to expect the worst.
Tonight’s win against New Orleans won’t heal all those wounds. I suspect that my nerves about the Philadelphia game will start ratcheting up plenty starting probably sometime tomorrow afternoon. But I have ESPN on while I’m writing this, I’ve been reading newspaper accounts of the game and I’ll be checking out as much local and national media on this game as I possibly can before I start thinking about what might happen next Sunday.
Because today I was on the right side of a last-minute, dramatic, post-season win that brought excitement even to people who typically could not care less about who wins a football game.
And sumbitch, I’m not gonna lie. It’s f#%$& sweet.