No Childress envy for Green Bay
MINNEAPOLIS -- There was evidence presented Sunday that not all males age 21-to-45 attending Minnesota Vikings games can be classified as brain-addled drunks. The Fox television cameras caught two gentlemen far too clever to be sharing a 0.24 blo...
MINNEAPOLIS -- There was evidence presented Sunday that not all males age 21-to-45 attending Minnesota Vikings games can be classified as brain-addled drunks. The Fox television cameras caught two gentlemen far too clever to be sharing a 0.24 blood alcohol reading with their peers.
These fellows were bedecked in tinted glasses, paste-on mustaches, purple baseball hats and white headsets. They also had a sketch of the Vikings playbook -- Chester Taylor running left.
To complete the parody of Brad Childress, they would cover their mouths with the play sheet, so that the Green Bay rivals couldn't pick up on the fact that Taylor was being ordered to run left.
As it turned out, Sunday's skit proved to be more reality than satire. The Vikings received the second-half kickoff, sent Taylor to the left for 10 yards, and then recorded their next first down at the 2-minute warning.
Yes, the mustachioed Little Major stood on the home sideline with his glasses, his headset, his purple hat and his mouth covered by that exotic play sheet, and his offense went from 14:13 of the third quarter to 2:00 of the fourth without a first down.
The Green Bay Packers had a modest seven first downs and kicked two field goals during those 27 minutes to push the lead to 23-14. The Packers were willing to retreat in the final moments, yet the Vikings -- in another parody of the entire season -- settled for a field goal with 58 seconds left and thus a 23-17 final.
Spectators leaving the Dome were overheard to say, "Thank goodness we didn't let Childress get on that plane to Green Bay," although the twist was that the people saying this were wearing green and gold.
You will recall that the new coach and owner Zygi Wilf offered assurances in January that the Packers' job was waiting for him, if Childress had been allowed to depart Minnesota for his next interview.
The Packers settled for Mike McCarthy, an offensive coordinator who actually called plays in 2005, albeit for lowly San Francisco. Childress had the title but offered only suggestions to his boss, Andy Reid, in Philadelphia.
McCarthy and Childress are both calling plays now. As chess matches go, what took place Sunday in the Dome wasn't quite a rerun of Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972.
The Vikings had two touchdowns -- the first when the Packers busted coverage, allowing Billy McMullen to stand near the end zone like a man waiting for a Hiawatha Line train, the other when hard-working Chester fumbled at the goal line and McMullen recovered.
That made it 14-10 for the Vikings midway through the second period. After that, Childress' offense made camera shots of the two guys in the stands funnier and funnier.
Fortunately for Childress and his revolutionary West Crawl Offense, McCarthy was making his share of idiotic play calls and allowing the futile home team to stay in contention.
McCarthy had the inexperienced Scott Wells at center and two rookies at guard. Then, the Packers went with a third rookie (Tony Moll) at tackle when Mark Tauscher was injured.
These neophytes had no chance to block Pat Williams in running situations, yet McCarthy kept his backs banging into that suffocating wall of a nose tackle on third-and-short.
This stubbornness caused the Packers to settle for a field goal on a first-quarter drive, to go from second-and-1 to third-and-5 (before Brett Favre's first touchdown passes) later in the first, and to punt early in the fourth when it still was 20-14.
More common sense on third-and-short from McCarthy and an afternoon of suspense for the Packer faithful could have been, instead, the relaxed celebration of a rout.
Watching these two head coaches match wits did leave the impression that football zealots on both sides of the river owe apologies to the guys they so badly wanted to replace - Mike Sherman to the east, Mike Tice to the west.
Neither the winners nor the losers offered evidence of being better coached than they were in 2005, although the Purple-clad Westies can lament this:
The Little Major's first shot at Green Bay ended the three-game winning streak he inherited from Tice.