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Look on the bright side, Vikings fans

Be honest, Vikings fans. If someone promised you before the season started that after six weeks your team would be tied for first place, Gus Frerotte would be 3-1 as a starter and the offense would generate last-minute scoring drives to win conse...

Be honest, Vikings fans. If someone promised you before the season started that after six weeks your team would be tied for first place, Gus Frerotte would be 3-1 as a starter and the offense would generate last-minute scoring drives to win consecutive games, every one of you would have promised to grow Brad Childress push-broom mustaches and order lunch while holding the menu over your mouth like it was Chilly's play chart.

So why, as the Vikings accomplished all of the above on Sunday, did we hear chants of "Fire Childress"?

Why, when the informational banner informed fans that they could call if they encountered anything interfering with their enjoyment of the game, did you assume they were providing Childress' home phone number?

Why, when Childress tried out four punters this week, did you assume his sales pitch was, "If you're a punter, my offense can make you a star"?

Admittedly, you had reason to jeer. The offensive line often looked inept against the NFL's worst defense. The Vikings needed almost all 60 minutes to beat the league's worst team.

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And penalties, turnovers and sacks kept the offense moving sideways or backward for most of what should have been an easy victory.

Childress even hinted that he hadn't thought through a key piece of strategy, saying he went for a one-point conversion that made it 10-9 Lions late in the third quarter, because going for one meant that a field goal would win the game.

Of course, a field goal would have won the game even if Childress had gone for two and failed. He probably had a reason for going for one at the time, but by the end of the game he seemed confused.

It was that kind of game -- aesthetic of a landfill, logical as St. Paul's street grid.

"What a pretty game," Frerotte said, rolling his eyes.

"That game should have been a blowout," receiver Bernard Berrian said, shaking his head.

If you watched the game, you probably were calling for Bob Schnelker to return as offensive coordinator.

If you had time to pump your stomach, take a few migraine pills and rub your bloodshot eyes, you could actually buy into the cliche of the day, that, as Childress said, "a win is a win is a win," because ...

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* Beating the criminally inept Lions moved the Vikings to 3-3 at a juncture of the schedule when 3-3 should be considered a triumph. Small picture: The Vikings frequently have played lousy, and already have changed quarterbacks. Big picture: They've survived the toughest portion of their schedule while moving into a tie for first place.

* Beating the perpetually cursed Lions on a last-second field goal at home is borderline pathetic, but Washington (a better team than the Vikings) lost on a last-second field goal to St. Louis (a team almost as inept as Detroit). Upsets occur every week in the NFL; the Vikings got embarrassed but not victimized.

* Beating the remarkably consistent Lions because of a questionable pass-interference call obscured a few encouraging developments.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 100 yards for the first time in four games. Berrian became the first Vikings receiver to reach 100 yards in consecutive games since 2004 and broke the second-longest pass play in Vikings history. Frerotte made it through another day without any of his body parts fossilizing (that we know of).

Oh, and Childress survived the game without thinking too deeply about 2-point conversions or, he says, hearing negative chants. "I don't hear all that stuff," Childress said.

Sunday, if you were employed by the Vikings, it was best to be oblivious to criticism and forgetful of details.

After six tumultuous weeks, the Purple are tied for first. Leave it to forensic scientists to figure out how.

JIM SOUHAN is a sports columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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