Posted on Tue, Sep. 26, 2006

[size=13pt]Vikings must learn to finish off their foes[/size]

The Vikings had the game won. At least it looked that way after Antoine Winfield scored on a short interception return early in the fourth quarter. Usually, teams that score off turnovers win.

The Vikings found a way to lose.

A fumble led to Chicago's winning touchdown. Then, after the Vikings got the ball back, the play selection was peculiar. A run on third down with 1:18 left in the game. A long incomplete pass down the sideline on fourth and 2.

As I watched the Vikings self-destruct, I thought back to another team that self-destructed after looking as if it had a game won: the 2003 Gophers.

Those Gophers had a 21-point lead on Michigan in the fourth quarter. And lost.

I'll say about the Vikings what I said then about the Gophers. They haven't yet figured out how to handle success.

In the evolution of a team, the ability to handle success is what lifts it to that next level. In the Vikings' case, that next level includes making it to the postseason and advancing in the playoffs.

At his Monday news conference, I asked Vikings coach Brad Childress if he agreed his team still doesn't know how to handle success.

"I didn't see any indicators that would have told me there was any complacency involved with prosperity," Childress said.

It's not a matter of being complacent with prosperity. It has to do with dealing efficiently with prosperity.

And the Vikings still haven't figured that out.

Bob Sansevere can be reached at [email protected]