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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    [size=18px]Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle[/size]

    Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune
    Last update: December 11, 2005 at 11:36 PM


    Followers of the Vikings are a collection of ungrateful louts. This was demonstrated on Sunday, when Darren Bennett eased his soon-to-be 41-year-old Australian body off the couch and did some emergency punting in the Metrodome.

    Bennett was at his home in Edina, enjoying his family and not bothering anyone, when the Vikings called last week and said they needed a punter to fill in for the injured rookie, Chris Kluwe.

    Bennett had been unceremoniously dumped in favor of Kluwe before the season. Now, the Vikings were asking Bennett to rescue them from a predicament, and offering chump change in return.

    "Anything for my old mates," Bennett said, cancelling a trip to a business meeting in San Diego to help out the Purple.

    What was Bennett's reward from the Dome denizens? Boos after his first punt. Louder boos after his second punt. Derisive cheers when he hit the ball better on his third punt.

    Hoots and sarcasm. That's all you horn-heads had to offer for a noble veteran willing to risk torn muscles to serve as a pinch punter for a couple of weeks.

    Disgusting, right Darren?

    "I didn't think so," Bennett said. "You come in and expect to do the job. I struggled a bit early. When you don't do the job, you expect to be booed. I was booing myself."

    But you were retired, a man of leisure, and only in the Dome on Sunday as a favor to the Vikings?

    "We can't have excuses like that, can we?" he said. "If you're going to go out there, the fans should expect that you're going to be able to do the job. My kids were probably booing me, too.

    "Fortunately, things got a little better after the first two kicks. The only problem then was bad hops. Backspin! Where did that come from?"

    Bennett's two punts in the first quarter averaged 31 yards. He was a fraction under 40 for his next half-dozen punts.

    That's the thing about serving as the punter for this now-conservative Vikings offense: You're going to be called on frequently.

    "The leg's a little tired right now, but I had a blast," Bennett said. "Maybe we'll get one more week out of the right leg, and then the young fellow should be back."

    The Vikings had 14 possessions (before kneeling to run out the clock) and failed to get a first down on eight of those. Bennett followed all of those three-and-outs with punts -- none of which were blocked or returned for significant yards.

    So, why the hostility for your recycled punter, coach?

    "They were tough on him," Mike Tice said. "Now that we're winning, they want perfection."

    The Vikings were far from that again Sunday. Yet, the result was a routine victory -- 27-13 over the error- prone St. Louis Rams -- and that's six in a row.

    Through that streak, there have been many more moments of offensive futility than efficiency, but it matters not when the football gods have decided to shine a little sunlight on your backsides.

    Everything that can go wrong does go wrong for two months, and then you get to play Detroit in your Dome and that's a can't-lose, and then you get outplayed as badly as a team can get outplayed and win on a miracle in the Meadowlands, and then you beat the Packers and Cleveland (modest achievements), and then you get the Lions again, with chaos added to their ineptitude, and then you get the Rams with a rookie quarterback from Harvard throwing five interceptions, and wanting to throw seven.

    This is the most unimpressive six-game winning streak in history. This streak is more a tribute to the NFL's legislated mediocrity -- "perpetual putridity," ESPN.com's Bill Simmons called it last week -- than it is to rock-ribbed defense or well-designed offense.

    A week ago, Tice credited the surge to the players getting the "message" back in early November, whatever that might have been. Others have credited the wisdom brought by two old coaches, Foge Fazio and Jerry Rhome.

    With most of the Purple Faithful, the credit goes to the old quarterback, Brad Johnson. Brad's 6-0 -- evidence of what they knew all along about Daunte Culpepper's inadequacies, that they knew he was the problem even as he was putting up 25 touchdowns and 3,479 yards in 2004.

    Just one thing: After six victories in a row, we still don't know if these Vikings are any good.

    They have benefitted from one miracle and facing five putridities.

    That changes Sunday. Pittsburgh comes to town. "A solid football team," Tice said.

    Solid enough that the Dome crowd should have more to focus on than picking on a moth-balled punter trying to do some old mates a favor.


    Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 5:40 p.m. • [email protected]

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    michaelmazid is offline Team Alumni
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    win or lose, this game will define our season. If we lose, A holes like sean salisbury will call us a fluke and if we win, the same A holes will say things like "wow, the vikings are for real". I don't think that we have to win the division to get into the playoffs. If we win out from here, we will be in the playoffs for sure.

    On prime time last night, they said that if the playoffs started today, the vikings would be in as the 6th seed.

  3. #3
    C-PepNSalt is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    Naw, even if we win, they'll say the steelers beat themselves, and let the vikings win...
    they wont' give the vikes credit for the victory
    "Johnson, we will keep on beating them until morale improves."

  4. #4
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    F Reusse and especially F Simmons!!! I am ready and willing to give Simmons his fantasy of no parity in the NFL...the cost to him...that his team, the Patsies, gets to SUCK for the next 50 years! Let's see how quickly he would change his tune...self-righteous bastage!!! Typical Bahston fan...thinks he knows it ALL...the only one worse is Kevin Hench...f'n NE homers!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  5. #5
    snowinapril's Avatar
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    The Article could have been titled differently.

    I thought all a long that the Steelers game would be a defining game.

    Originally, B4 the season started, I thought it was going to be a showdown of a couple of the elite teams in the NFL. But it is a defining game in the fact that it is two teams struggling to make the playoffs. Two teams on the fringe of the playoffs, looking to play tough for their own survival in the NFL.

    Another "must win" game for the Vikes.

    I had to watch the Steelers and the Bears yesterday, and the Steelers looked tough. With the weather conditions, it was hard to judge the talent of the two teams. The team that was ahead when the snow started in was at a total advantage.

  6. #6
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    The Steelers are viewed by t he NFL public as a tough team. If the Vikings beat the Steelers they will get a LOT of respect.

    The Bears struggled and now everyone is saying, see the Bears can't beat a good team.

    The Vikinsg schedule is soft, so this is the toughest game of the year and if the Vikes lose, they will be hard pressed to make the playoffs.

  7. #7
    Jkurtkrauss's Avatar
    Jkurtkrauss is offline Rookie
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    We still need another Bear loss (other than at the Metrodome) to win the division. Otherwise we'll be in a dog fight with Atlanta, Carolina, & Dallas for the 6th seed.

    If you look back over the season, our losses were all to good teams (+.500).


    No letting up or we're sunk.
    Spread my ashes at the H^3

  8. #8
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    each game gets bigger and bigger as the season rolls on, and of coarse none are bigger than this one. if we win, the next game becomes the next biggest game. if we lose, we are in trouble and will need help to get in. right now all we have to do is win out and we are in. simple as that. this week, there is no tougher test.
    We're bringing purple back.

  9. #9
    StillPurple is offline Hall of Famer
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    Operation Stop the Bus

    To me, the upcoming game vs. the Steelers comes down to one thing: stopping the "Bus" (Bettis) on the line of scrimmage. If we can do that, we can make the Steelers one-dimensional, and I personally don't think Roethlisberger can beat us, especially with an injured hand. Thus, it remains critical that we jam Bettis at the line of scrimmage. I see Pat Williams playing a big role here, plus of course the linebackers like Keith Newman and Cowart. We can't let the Bus have 100 yards like he did against the Bears.

    What do you guys think about this ?

  10. #10
    CrazyVikingsFan is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Steelers will be a true test of Vikings' mettle

    To me the keys to our six game win streak is to score fast through the air. Then we just sit back on our defence and force turnovers. All we have to do is make the steelers play frome behind and they will be handing the ball over to us!!! WOOOHHOOOO My first Post

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