Our in depth season prediction continues …
Week 2: @ Indianapolis Colts, noon –
Colts in 2019 – 7-9 – 3rd in AFC south
- no Andrew Luck; signed aging QB in Philip Rivers
- started 5-2 last year, but fizzled as QB Jacoby Brisset went down, as did T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack, and Eric Ebron.
- Have a 1st Team All-Pro offensive lineman (Quenton Nelson) and 2nd Team All-Pro Linebacker (Darius Leonard)
- Frank Reich – head coach – was he the guy who lit up the Vikes as on O.C. with Philly in 2018? Yes. He’s a cool guy and has had a pretty incredible run in the NFL as a player and coach. From 57th overall draft pick, he played for 4 NFL teams over 14 years before starting his coaching career with the Colts. He was a position coach there, then had stints in San Diego, Arizona, and Philly before arriving back in Indianapolis.
- Reason for optimism: Touchdownwire.com predicts they will finish 7-9 again, as they face a tough schedule and sit in a division with the Texans and Titans, two teams who have been strong as of late. However, they were 7-9 with a struggling QB, and have upgraded there and on defense. They have a decent o-line, and Darius Leonard was heard saying he wants the MVP, DPOY, and SBMVP next year. The 2nd round pick is notorious for having a chip on his shoulder and setting monster goals, and he is one of the best linebackers in the league. Who knew, since he is chilling in Indiana…
Tajae Sharp, who suffered a pre-season injury from Zoom Call mini-camps, is back in the line-up this week, and makes a quick impact for the Purple, scoring on an opening drive TD to make it 7-0. Fans, wary of their week one stomping of the Packers, are losing confidence in the validity of said victory as Fox drop ins show the Pack to be down 17-3 halfway through the first quarter in their week 2 matchup with the 0-1 Lions.
Sharp’s 13-yard score doesn’t seem to face the calm and collected Reich, whom, despite only getting one first down on their ensuing drive, keeps the Colts sideline optimistic. The teams go back and forth, with defenses generally preventing any significant plays from happening. At the end of one, it is 7-3 good guys.
To start the 2nd quarter, the Vikings lead what has the potential to be a game-owning drive. They use up 8 minutes of clock and a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook to bring the Minnesota moving company up to the 2-yard line. Then, things get typically frustrating, as we get called for off-sides, a false start, and run some stupid trick play, all leading to a 39-yard field goal try that goes wide-right. What looked to be us taking control of the game has become an invitation to the dance for Rivers, and he gladly accepts. For the next 20 minutes of game-time, Rivers racks up 208 yards through the air, making mincemeat out of the inexperienced Vikings’ secondary. The result is a 10-7 halftime score, which keep everyone in Minnesota at their TV’s, ready to waste an entire Sunday, yet again, only to leave feeling depressed at best and mentally deranged at worst (both normal conditions for the fan-base after 65 years). In the third, River’s control and prowess make it 17-7 before Thielen finally steps in and gets the club jumpstarted with a 34-yard reception which leads to another field goal attempt, one which goes in this time.
It’s 17-10, and the Vikings have found themselves in the meat grinder. The defense steps up late in the 3rd. With 2:34 remaining and the Colts on their own 45, Zimmer calls a blitz on 2nd down. Hunter gets to Rivers and hits his elbow in throwing motion, sending the pigskin high in the air and to the immediate left of center. Like sniped duck flailing down to the brush, the ball spins wildly towards Anthony Harris, who picks it off and takes it to the house. Paul Allen gets to say, “He’s loose!!!” and we are back in it. Meanwhile, the Packers and Lions are in a tussle, with a 4th quarter string of TD’s from Rodgers tying things up in the shootout, 27-27. The outcomes of both games are seeming to be monumental in determining early play-off advantages.
17-17, the defense, hyped up, forces another 3 and out, capitalized by a timely John Randle tackle for loss. A stat line comes up, showing the total running offense for the Colts to be a measly 37 yards, pretty impressive considering the duo of Faulk and James on the blue and white sideline.
Cousins steps back onto the field and rifles a strike to Jefferson for 11 yards. Then, Rudolph for 7 on 2nd and 6. Cook gets 23 on a screen, and Rudolph does his best Gronk for another redzone TD. We miss the field goal, leaving the door open again, but seem to be in control – 23-17.
The Colts are in crunch time, and the lovable uncle Frank Reich still looks like the coach from Facing the Giants. He chats with Peyton Manning on the sideline before we are taken to commercials. There is 3:34 left to go – just enough time for us to blow it.
The Colts come out and systematically break down the hearts and souls of not only every member of the Minnesota resistance, but every resident who has ever been born or died in the states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. They face 4 consecutive 3 downs of 8 yards or more, and convert on all of them. On the fifth, at the Vikings 23, they fail. On 4th down, with 39 seconds to go, they go for it. Rivers steps back and hits TY Hilton, who is 3 yards short, but as he’s coming down, is clearly whipped from the facemask by Viking’s rookie Fred Smoot. 15 yards. Automatic first down. New life.
First and goal from the 5. First, a running play. 1 yard. The clock is stopped, as the Colts have all their timeouts left, thanks to the excellent coaching from the Facing the Giants guy and all of the realistic and Biblically sound producers at Faith TV. 2nd down: play-action, Rivers rolls to his right and is looking for Ebron, but Smoot has him covered – or at least he’s in the vicinity and River’s forgot that he is Fred Smoot, not Deion Sanders. Either way, he checks down and ends up throwing it away. 3rd down, 6 seconds. There is still time for two plays. Vikings fan can literally feel themselves losing quarantine weight from sweat loss at this point – maybe you are right now – as they anticipate the inevitable. The Colts try a surprise run which goes nowhere and quickly call timeout. It is the interesting call that will provide sports talk show hosts across the country something to chew on, which they will, way too much, for the next 5 days. It’s 4th down, on the 4 yard line. The crowd is on their feet. The TV starts from behind center. We can see Hunter’s steely eyes as he gets down in the crouch. It pans to the opposite side, and we glance at Rivers, whose eyes are twitching across the field, trying to size up a potential audible. To the right, a close up of Harrison Smith, a grizzled veteran who looks ready to make exactly the right call. A quick close up of Zimmer, who is still masked up so he doesn’t spread Co-Vid. The other sideline – Reich is calm. Fred Smoot is on the sideline, thankfully, but it almost looks like his toes are on the field. Thankfully, no refs see this and flag the team, and the ball is snapped. Rivers sits in the pocket for what seems like 4.5 years, but he can’t find anyone. He fires a lob to back center of the endzone and it looks like a game of 500 at Probstfield Elementary. A pile of Colts and Vikings end up on the ground, and we can’t even tell what happened to the ball. After a few seconds, a Colts player emerges and lifts the ball up, causing an absolute rucus from the fans — er — -automated fan sound.
Refs go to the review, because it’s a scoring play. Most Minnesotans had to the laundry room to grab a vacuum and start with the chores their wives wanted them to do — they’ve had enough of THIS garbage. In the amount of time required to vacuum 10 full-sized mansions, we have had a deliberation between refs, coaches, and players that would have made the writers of the constitution blush with inadequacy. Finally, the refs have come to a conclusion. The head guy with the white hat comes out and says, “Pass interference, offense, number 81.” It is a startling call, one which has the fake crowd noise very frustrated. In fact, the guy controlling the sound forgets to click anything, and viewers are left stunned in silence as the game, now overtime by about 15 minutes, has to quickly send viewers to the afternoon matchups. For Colts fans, it is not only inexplicable, disappointing, and seemingly unfair … it is also downright awkward. Vikes fans can hardly believe their stroke of good luck, and quickly turn off the TV’s before someone comes on and, as would be typically expected, changes their minds.
Vikes are 2-0 on the year.