For the Minnesota Vikings, the week started with the all-too-well-known question, "will Brett Favre play, or won't he play?" A question that has been asked perhaps more than any other in the NFL the past several years. The question often pertains to retirement or unretirement, and at other times whether or not the various assortment of injuries will keep Favre from continuing his record consecutive-games-started-streak or not.
This time, the question pertained to the latter. With the shoulder injury suffered against the Buffalo Bills in the previous week keeping Favre out of practice for most of the time leading up to this past week's game against the New York "Football" Giants (never understood the emphasis on "football" when referring to them, what other New York Giants is there currently anyway?) much of the NFL world wondered if the streak would see regular season game 298.
Then the blizzard came. As it turns out, the Giants got stranded in Kansas City in their efforts to get to Minnesota due to the storm. After the league moved the game scheduled for Sunday afternoon, to Monday night, the Metrodome roof collapsed under the weight of 17 inches of snow!
Thank goodness tragedy was avoided by there being no game in progress at the time, but that was way too close for comfort. So, it was off to Detroit to play a Minnesota "home" game on Monday night.
At least the Vikings did not have to go to Giants Stadium to have their "home" game against the Giants. Remember in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, when the New Orleans Saints had to play their "home" game against the Giants in the Meadowlands? It did not work out too well for the Saints, 27-10 losers, and upon retrospect, that might have been a bad omen for the Vikings in 2010.
Given mother nature's providing an extra day for Favre's shoulder injury to get better, speculation was only fueled all day Sunday as to whether it was just enough time to allow, perhaps the most impressive sports streak of all-time, to continue.
On Monday, it was announced that Favre would watch from the sidelines for the first time since 1992. In all - including the post-season - Favre's string of 321 games started, was snapped when quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson, returned to the starting lineup for the first time since 2008.
With the NFL providing free tickets, Detroit's Ford Field was almost a packed house. The field featured a nifty Viking emblem at the 50 yard line along with the end zones sporting the Vikings' colors also. Unfortunately, in their apparent haste to scramble down to Detroit on a day's notice, the Vikings forgot to pack their performance from a week earlier against the Bills. They would need it.
Coming into the contest, Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, was 0-4 as a starter against the Vikings, and since his career began in 2004, has met the Vikings each year except 2006 (Kurt Warner started against the Vikings in 2004). In his four starts, Manning, had thrown four touchdown passes to Viking defenders, and two touchdown passes to his own receivers. In all, the Vikings intercepted Manning nine times in his four starts coming in.
Monday night, with Manning throwing two more interceptions in the first half bringing that total to 11, things seemed fairly bright for the Vikings. In the first quarter wide receiver, Sidney Rice, seemingly caught a ball in the end zone, but the play wound up being ruled as a trapped ball. The Vikings had to settle for a field goal, but for much of the first half nursed a 3-0 lead.
An ugly game in which third down conversions were few and far between (both teams combined for five out of 31), featured 10 punts and 10 penalties by the Vikings, and seven punts and seven penalties by the Giants. From the middle of the second quarter on, the game eventually became a one-sided affair in favor of the Giants. Manning finally had a win against his nemisis, the Vikings, 21-3, and Leslie Frazier suffered his first loss as a head coach.
While the Giants were eventually able to muster some offense, the Vikings never were. With the two Giants' running backs, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw ripping off 73 and 48 yard runs respectively, the offensive fireworks for the night were pretty much provided by those two plays.
Coming off of a season-high 38-point outing a week earlier, the Vikings turned in a tied-for season low 3 points. Coming off of a 387 total yard game, the Vikings mustered a season low 164 yards of total offense and a season low 10 first downs. Running back, Adrian Peterson, was held to a season low 26 yards on 14 carries.
One thing that was revealed Monday night was, as overrated and underperforming as the Vikings' offensive line has been over the last few years, with All-Pro Guard, Steve Hutchinson, out of the lineup due to a thumb injury, it's significantly worse. The Giants defensive line treated their counterparts as though they were a high school all-star offensive line assembled to see what would happened if kids were allowed to play professional football while skipping college. The result was brutal.
Viking Quarterbacks, Jackson and rookie Joe Webb were shuffled in and out during the fourth quarter as both took turns being pummeled. If Favre were ever going to miss a start due to injury, that would have been the one to sit out. With two newly injured quarterbacks trying to finish the game, and the third not dressed in uniform (Favre), Peterson spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench. Either the franchise running back was hurt also, or Frazier was probably scared of getting him hurt by leaving him out there.
With an exciting week of Viking football having been concluded - none of the excitement of the desired variety - now the nomadic NFL franchise must seek another location to play its final "home" game of the season next Monday night. At present, it appears the Vikings will borrow the home field of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, TCF Bank Stadium.
Now, with three hurt quarterbacks on the Viking roster, and an offensive line seemingly unable to protect any of them, the physical Chicago Bears defense is coming to town and licking their chops no doubt. Veteran free agent quarterback, Patrick Ramsey, is reportedly set to work out for the Vikings this week. One has to wonder, if Ramsey watched Monday night's game, if he really wants to get signed, or is he just going through the obligatory motions?
In any event, all of this brings us back full circle and begs the big question for this upcoming Monday night's game, "will Brett Favre play, or won't he play?"