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50 posts categorized "NFL"

July 27, 2014

Points On The Purple Daily, July 27: Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

Posted by: Feldman

The biggest news through the first three days of Minnesota Vikings training camp broke late tonight: Kyle Rudolph has been elevated to the top tier of NFL tight ends.

Rudolph, the Vikings' 2nd-round draft pick in 2011 (the year they drafted Christian Ponder in Round 1), signed a five-year, $36.5 million extension on Sunday, with $19.5 million guaranteed.

Tight ends don't get that kind of money for being good blockers in the running game. This big-money deal for Rudy says more about where the Vikings' new coaching staff expects him to go under Norv Turner's offense than what he's done in his first three seasons in the NFL.

This is a great deal for both sides. At 6-feet-6, 259 pounds, not only does Rudolph give QBs Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater a big target, he's also fast and agile for his size. The obvious comparison here is what the New Orleans Saints have done with Jimmy Graham. Of course, it's  not fair to expect Rudolph to catch 85 balls for 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns, BUT at $7.3 million per year, it's clear that Turner and head coach Mike Zimmer expect Rudolph to be a huge part of the passing game.

And that's exciting for Vikings fans, to add Rudolph's pass-catching skills on top of receivers Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright. 

There are some injury concerns with Rudolph, dating back to his time at Notre Dame. Rudolph only played in eight games last season because of a foot injury, but to be fair, Rudolph played in 31 of 32 games during his first two seasons, and he caught nine TD passes in 2012.

With Rudolph's combination of size, strength and agility, Turner has to be salivating about using him in red zone situations, especially when the Vikings have the ball near the goal line. 

According to OverTheCap.com, Rudolph's deal makes him the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL, in terms of average annual value of his contract behind Graham ($10.0 M/year); New England's Rob Gronkowksi ($9.0 M/year); Dallas' Jason Witten ($7.4 M/year) and San Francisco's Vernon Davis ($7.35 M/year).

"I'm extremely excited to get this extension completed and continue my career with the Minnesota Vikings," Rudolph said in a press release. "I've said all along I wanted to stay in Minnesota. I love the fans, the community and most importantly, I'm excited about where this team is going."

Rudolph has 109 catches for 1,055 yards and 15 TDs in 39 career games (32 starts).

July 26, 2014

Points On The Purple Daily, July 26

Posted by: Feldman 

A new head coach. (Possibly) a new starting quarterback. A new (temporary) home stadium. An old punter stirring the pot.

We're only two days into Minnesota Vikings training camp and there is already so much to talk about. Why not do some of that on this blog?
 
In every Weekend Post-Bulletin during the Vikings season, me and the P-B's version of Sid Hartman, sports writer Guy N. Limbeck, do a column called "Points on the Purple." It's a back-and-forth, give-and-take (usually me giving Limbeck the business for his homerish opinions) about the state of the Vikings.
 
We'll try to bring some of that to the Faceoff blog during training camp, the preseason and regular season. And by "we" I mean "me." I don't think Limbeck knows what a blog is, much less how to log in and write in this space. 
 
Enough about us, though, football season is here, so let's talk some Vikings!
 
Each day, I'll do my best to come up with four "Points" about the Purple. Some days I'll add an Extra Point, just because I feel like babbling on, and the Interwebs offer limitless space.
 
Here are today's Points On The Purple:
 
1. The QB Battle. I'm definitely in the minority with this opinion, at least if I use Twitter as a judge (and we all know, if you read something on Twitter, it has to be true. Right?), but to me, there's no battle for the starting QB job. At least right now. It's Matt Cassel's job. Could Teddy Bridgewater play his way into that spot, or at least make it a battle? Absolutely. But he hasn't yet. He hasn't had enough of a chance. Unless Bridgewater has a Russel Wilson-like presason, he'll be a backup when the Vikings open the regular season on Sept. 7 at St. Louis. This doesn't mean Cassel will still be the starter in Week 17, when Chicago comes to TCF Bank Stadium. It just means there's nothing wrong with letting Bridgewater be an attentive student for most, if not all, of the season.
 
2. Keep calm about Cordarrelle. Vikings coaches and fans -- and many people around the NFL, for that matter -- are expecting big things from second-year WR Cordarrellle Patterson this season. So a few eyebrows were raised, as were some blood pressure rates, when fans found out Patterson didn't practice on the first two days of camp due to a foot injury. It's OK to take a deep breath and relax about this one. While the Vikings were practicing Saturday afternoon, Patterson was working with a trainer on one of the practice fields. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Patterson and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (hamstring) are close to returning.
 
3. Blanton and the safety battle. One of the position battles in the spotlight in Mankato is the competition for the starting job opposite Harrison Smith at safety. Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond are the names most often mentioned as the top candidates to win that job, as well as veteran free-agent acquisition Kurt Coleman. Andrew Sendejo had been considered a front runner, too, but he has started training camp on the PUP list and his return does not sound imminent. With players putting pads on for practice, beginning Sunday, every practice, every rep Sendejo misses is costly. Don't count out 2012 fifth-round draft pick Robert Blanton, though. Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards gave Blanton, who was teammates with Smith in college at Notre Dame, reps with the first team during mini-camp practices this summer. Blanton dressed for all 16 games last season, starting three in December. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder led the Vikings with 19 special teams tackles last season. In the season finale against Detroit, he started and recorded 14 tackles, the second-most in a game by a Viking last season (Sendejo had 17 vs. Washington). He was also credited with six pass breakups and two tackles for loss last year. 
 
4. Will the defensive ends hold up? The Vikings gave defense end Everson Griffen a five-year, $42.5 million contract in the offseason. They locked up DE Brian Robison a year earlier with a four-year, $28 million deal. That's a lot of money for guys who have never had a 10-sack season. Robison has been solid, recording 25.5 sacks over the past three years. Griffen has 17.5 in his four-year career. Last year, Robison appeared to shed his reputation of wearing down in the second half of seasons. He had eight of his nine sacks in the final nine games. The big question that will loom this season, though, is: Can they keep that up without Jared Allen's presence in the lineup? Perhaps Zimmer's scheme -- with pressure possibly coming from any direction on any given snap -- will help offset the loss of Allen. Griffen is saying all the right things, particularly that he thrives on and lives for the pressure he'll face this season. He'll be better against the run than Allen was, but, fairly or not, he'll likely be judged by the number of sacks he produces.
 
Extra Points: I made my first trip of this training camp to Mankato today and was reminded of a copule guys that you can count on seeing every year that make me chuckle or cringe, or both. These are guys to watch out for, and possibly mock, if you choose.
 
The first is Intense Fan. We've all seen this guy in the bleachers at MSU Mankato. He's the one who is so focused on a Day 2 training camp walkthru -- which, by the way, is nothing more than football players in jerseys and shorts, literally walking around and simulating game play -- that he can't be bothered by anyone or anything around him. "Honey, you have to keep the kids quiet! I'm trying to hear what's going on out there!" Intense Fan believes Jerick McKinnon will be a Pro Bowler because he witnessed first-hand McKinnon (wearing jerseys and shorts) catch a pass and run untouched to the end zone, while the defensive players (wearing jerseys and shorts) didn't even bother to pursue him. 
 
The second guy you'll see is Serious Security Guy. He's the guy who stands in the median on Stadium Road, halting traffic when a Vikings player or coach needs to cross the road from Myers Field House to the practice fields. Serious Security Guy will quickly and emphatically hold his arm straight out, with his palm facing you, making sure you know you need to stop your vehicle while a person is walking across the road, in a crosswalk. Once said person has safely crossed the road, SSG will start waving his arm toward you like he's telling you to hurry up and round third base because the throw is already at the cutoff man. I learned today that Serious Security Guy does not like it when you chuckle at him as you drive past while he's urging you toward home plate. 
 
Oh, there's also Sunburned Journalist Guy. He usually gets mocked by Intense Fan and Serious Security Guy. Feel free to join in. He can take it.

January 08, 2013

PHERSY AND FELDY SHOW: Welcome back!

PHERSY: Well, it's been what, like two years since we've done one of these things ... so Feldy and I got off our rear-ends and decided to tape a show tonight.

We plan to make this a far more regular feature here at Faceoff. Now, with a few of the changes at the P-B, it sounds like we'll have more time for "fun" stuff like this.

So, our lone reader ... enjoy!

This week, we wrap up the Vikings season, we talk about the Wild and the upcoming NHL season, and then Feldy talks high school hockey, and I talk about the Rochester Ice Hawks.

PhersyandFeldyShow010813

September 02, 2011

NFL | Taking a stab at the #Vikings 53-man roster

FELDY: ESPN 1500's Tom Pelissero gave his best guess earlier today at how the Minnesota Vikings final roster will shake out. Tom, a former co-worker of Phersy's, by the way (insert your favorite Sid Hartman "close personal friend" reference here) is with the team on a daily basis and clearly has a better understanding of who should make the team and who shouldn't.

But, there are so many "bubble" players this year, that there are toss-ups at almost every position, so I'll give this a whack, too, to see if we at Faceoff can guess who won't be a Viking by late Saturday afternoon.

Pelissero has Rochester's Marcus Sherels making the team, which would make sense considering he has outplayed several of the team's CBs who are also on the bubble. That said, NFL teams place a high value on players they drafted. Sherels was not drafted and, despite his strong play in the preseason, has been stuck behind some of these other guys (Asher Allen comes to mind) on the depth chart. With all of the teams in need of CB help due to injury, or just lack of consistent players, I have to believe Sherels will have a job in the NFL somewhere this season.

Elsewhere on the roster, with DT Kevin Williams being suspended for the first two games of the season, the Vikings will actually have to make one less cut than other teams. Suspended players do not count toward a team's roster total.

Anyway, here we go:

Quarterbacks: Donovan McNabb, Joe Webb, Christian Ponder. Comments: I'm going out on a limb here.

Running backs: A.P., Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker, Ryan D'Imperio (FB). Comments: D'Imperio could be a cut, depending on how many tight ends the Vikings want to keep. I'd keep D'Imperio over Jeff Dugan. D'Imperio gives you a younger body who can block and play special teams. Dugan's special-teams upside isn't enough, to me, to keep him over a young guy like D'Imperio. And, there's no chance Dugan is a part of the passing game. Rookie Caleb King will certainly land on the practice squad, if another team doesn't snap him up first.

Tight ends: Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser, Kyle Rudolph. Comments: This leaves Dugan and rookie Allen Reisner (undrafted, from Iowa) on the outside. Reisner, like King at running back, is an ideal practice squad guy, unless another team signs him to their 53-man, which is possible. He had a very good preseason, but is stuck behind three really good players. As for Dugan, see my comments in the RB's section. If he makes the team, it's because the coaches like his special teams value more than D'Imperio's. In that case, Dugan could be used at times as a blocking fullback.

Receivers: Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jaymar Johnson. Comments: Johnson didn't do anything to single himself out as the No. 1 choice to be the punt returner ahead of Sherels, but Sherels probably didn't do enough, either. Johnson had a decent game at receiver on Thursday and will come much cheaper than Greg Camarillo, who has nearly a $1.8 million cap hit. On a team that is pushed up against the salary cap, that could be a deciding factor. Aromashodu was good on special teams in the preseason and made a few nice catches, so he likely sticks. Emmanuel Arceneaux and Juaquin Iglesias performed well in camp, but not well enough to say definitively that they belong on the roster.

Offensive line: Steve Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Anthony Herrera, Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, Jon Cooper, DeMarcus Love, Ryan Cook, Chris DeGeare. Comments: This group could change if the Vikings find a player they like better on the waiver wire. Cook, from many reports, appears to be only an option at the three interior positions now, after playing as a tackle most often during his first few seasons in MInnesota. Love is raw, but likely wouldn't make it through waivers and onto the practice squad. Waiving draft pick Brandon Fusco (a center from Slippery Rock) is a risk, too, but he's not ready to occupy a place on the 53-man roster yet.

Defensive backs: Husain Abdullah, Jamarca Sanford, Tyrell Johnson, Eric Frampton, Mistral Raymond, Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook, Brandon Burton, Asher Allen, Marcus Sherels. Comments: This could group, too, could be shaken up, based on who might become available in free agency. If Sherels is going to be the punt returner, he moves ahead of Burton, and possibly even Allen, on the list of CBs. I'd put him ahead of Allen now, but coaches and personnel men in the NFL put a ton of stock in players they drafted, especially in the early rounds. Allen was drafted in the third round in 2009. Sherels is an undrafted free agent. Hopefully, for Sherels' sake, the whole draft pick thing doesn't matter as much as I think it does. He deserves to be on the team. ... Now, I have 11 DBs making the team, including five safeties. That's a lot, but I don't know how the Vikes cut draft pick Mistral Raymond, and Eric Frampton is a tremendous special teams player.

Linebackers: E.J. Henderson, Chad Greenway, Erin Henderson, Heath Farwell, Kenny Onatolu, Ross Homan, Larry Dean. Comments: Dean may have played his way off the roster on Thursday, but the suspension to Williams gives the Vikings one more roster spot, for at least two weeks, and Dean may be the beneficiary. He did enough in the first three weeks to warrant serious consideration for a spot on the 53. The Vikings like Homan's potential too much to let him go, and Onatolu and Farwell are special teams aces. This list assumes Jasper Brinkley lands on I.R. and it leaves out David Herron, a veteran who was only with the team for a couple of weeks this preseason. Herron could well make the team in place of Dean, or they both could be cut.

Defensive linemen: Jared Allen, Kevin Wlliams, Remi Ayodele, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen, Adrian Awasom, LeTroy Guion, Fred Evans, Christian Ballard. Comments: Some of the team's toughest cuts may come here, with Stylez White and rookie D'Aundre Reed left on the outside. Griffen could be considered a linebacker, too, after getting some work there on Thursday, but after just one week of practicing (part-time) at LB, is he ready to play that spot against No. 1 offenses? And, can he cover slot receivers or tight ends? It's one thing to do it against the Texans backups, but what if he got matched up against Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates or Malcom Floyd in week 1? That's why I'll leave him at DE for now. And I'm betting they'll need him to sub for Robison far more than they're letting on. Guion will probably start alongside Ayodele in Williams' absence. Awasom was too good in the preseason to not have earned a spot on the 53, and Ballard could eventually out-perform his draft position. Evans could be a question mark here, though he'll likely stick around to add depth with Williams out.

Specialists: Ryan Longwell (K), Chris Kluwe (P), Cullen Loeffler (LS). Comments: duh.

July 31, 2011

Vikings | Stringer is still missed

Posted by: Feldman

Ten years ago today (Monday, Aug. 1), I was standing outside the Gage Hall dormitory on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, at one of the first days of Vikings training camp, 2001. I was waiting for my ride home, fellow P-B sports reporter Troy Young, when I overheard a radio reporter from the Twin Cities talking with Vikings linebacker Ed McDaniel.

McDaniel was in a hurry to get to lunch and, like a lot of veterans, didn't really want to talk, though he obviously understood it's part of the deal for players in the opening days of training camp.

"Who's the funniest guy on the team?" the reporter asked.

McDaniel's face lit up. With a big smile, he answered, "no question it's Korey Stringer. That guy could make anyone laugh."

On our drive home, we heard on the radio that Stringer had been taken from the field during the morning practice -- neither of us had noticed -- and that he had been transported to a local hospital.

Dehydration, we thought. Heat exhaustion, we thought. (The heat index that day had been close to 110; I remember wondering what in the world I had been thinking that morning when I put a dark blue polo shirt on). He'll be fine, back on the practice field in a couple of days, we thought.

The next morning, at about 7:45, I got a phone call from a friend and fellow Vikings fan.

"Dude, Stringer's dead."

I remember running to the TV to turn it on, speechless. I honestly don't know if I even said anything before I hung up the phone. Later that day, watching Denny Green, Cris Carter and Randy Moss give a tear-filled press conference, it was surreal. There's no other way to put it.

To watch Moss not be able to control his tears, to not care that he was breaking down in front of thousands of people watching on TV, it was a heavy reminder that these guys are people, just like the rest of us.

They may make more money, spend more money, have (much) bigger egos, and live a different lifestyle than many of us, but their emotions are the same.

A couple of weeks later, I was in the Washington, D.C., area, covering the Rochester Redhawks baseball team in a national Babe Ruth tournament (they weren't a Legion team at the time), and I went to a sports bar to watch the Vikings' first preseason game, on the road against New Orleans, a nationally-televised game on ESPN (the Vikes and Saints had met in the playoffs the previous season). It was a bar full of Redskins fans, but when Moss caught a deep ball early in the game for a long TD, and pointed to the sky, the bar erupted.

I can't say it's my favorite sports memory, but it gave me chills and it's one I won't forget for a long, long time. Just like Vikings fans won't forget Stringer.

It's hard to belive 10 years have passed since that day. Stringer's son, Kodie, is 13 now. Stringer would be 37, maybe still playing football, maybe still in Minnesota.

No doubt, though, he would still be able to make anyone laugh.

April 28, 2011

LIVE NFL DRAFT/VIKINGS BLOG TONIGHT!!

PHERSY: I just wanted to get the word out to you Faceoff viewers.

Feldy, Guy N. Limbeck and I will have a live Vikings/NFL Draft blog tonight at PostBulletin.com starting at 6:45 p.m.

Please log in to make fun of Feldy, and that Limbeck clown as well. We may not have anything intelligent to say, but I'm sure we'll make you laugh with our stupidity.

SO, PostBulletin.com at 6:45 tonight ... watch for the link for our live blog!!!

Thanks peeps!

February 10, 2011

Phersy and Feldy Show, Volume II

PHERSY: Welcome back folks ... and if you're back, I guess that's a good start. Here's the second edition of the Phersy and Feldy Show.

This week we've shorten it up a bit. We talk about the upcoming Hockey Day Minnesota, the Ice Hawks' struggles and then we get into a healthy helpling of NFL talk (labor stoppage, Metrodome roof, draft, yada, yada).

So enjoy (or at least try):

 

PhersyAndFeldyShow2

 

February 06, 2011

Inside Brett Keisel's beard (or, still time to make a Super Bowl prediction)

FELDY: So we're still 90 minutes from kickoff of the biggest NFL game of the year (and, maybe the last NFL game we see for some time, depending upon whether NFL owners or the NFLPA are pacified first), which means there's still time to make a prediction. I know you've all (or one of you, at least) have awaited this, so here we go.

I'm convinced Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel's beard holds the key to this Super Bowl. (It has its own Facebook page, for crying out loud).

Kreisel's beard is so long and scraggly that there are some Steelers interns from 2008 still stuck in there somewhere. It's probably pretty smelly, too, which could significantly throw off the timing and concentration of Packers rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is no relation to one of these. Then again, Bulaga has had two weeks to prepare for The Beard, so I'm guessing he'll find a way to use it as leverage, you know, pull Kreisel around by the beard, somehow hiding it from the officials.

When it comes to predicting an outcome — hey, wait a minute. Aaron Rodgers is now on the Super Bowl pregame show doing an interview wearing a purple sweatshirt. Does his taunting of Vikings fans never end? When it comes to predicting an outcome, let's look at pros and cons for each team.

Pittsburgh
Pros
: 1. The Steelers front seven is extremely difficult to run against. This might actually work in Green Bay's favor because it obviously excels at the passing game. But, when it comes to those third-and-short situations, I'd put my money on the Steelers. That's if I was a betting man. I'm not; can't afford it.
2. The Steelers are outstanding in big games. They're 9-1 in the playoffs since 2005, with two Super Bowl wins (though, we could argue they beat two not-so-great teams in those Super Bowls, Seattle and Arizona).
Con
s: 1. This guy is starting at center. BJ Raji might eat him for a supper. Literally.
2. Pittsburgh hasn't been great against the league's best QBs (no, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez don't qualify as among the league's best QBs).

Green Bay
Pros: 1. The Packers don't need to run. Their quick-passing offense is going to be tough for Pittsburgh to defend. If I was making Green Bay's game plan (and there are so many good reasons I'm not), I'd go with some two-tight end, two-back sets and see if I could get Greg Jennings matched up one-on-one against Ike Taylor. I'll take Jennings' speed and ability to separate himself from DBs every time if he's one-on-one.
2. As I said before the NFC title game, Green Bay is a team that seems built to win indoors on a fast track, with a quick-hitting passing game and some speed guys on defense. The roof at Jerry Jones' Palace is closed. That's to Green Bay's advantage.
Cons: 1. The Packers' defense can be run on by teams that have patience in the run game. Green Bay can negate this one by getting out to a quick start.
2. Does Green Bay's D have the ability to keep Roethlisberger from scrambling? Big Ben threw for 504 yards when the Steelers beat the Packers in a regular season game last year. The Steelers offense is set up well to suit Roethlisberger's improvisational abilities.

So, what does this all lead to? I've flip-flopped every hour this week on which team I'd pick, so I'm going back to my initial gut feeling, as much as it pains me to say it: Packers 27, Steelers 17. Super Bowl MVP? I'm going away from the obvious here (Rodgers, Jennings) and I'll go with Clay Matthews, though I think BJ Raji could have a monster game, too.

 

January 21, 2011

Packers-Bears breakdown (or things I'd rather be doing than watching the NFC Championship game)

So, the NFL season is still going on? Something called the playoffs (PLAYOFFS?! YOU TALKIN' 'BOUT PLAYOFFS?!?! YOU KIDDING ME?) are apparently happening, with some big games coming up this weekend.

In the AFC, I guess I'll go with the Steelers over the Jets because, well, Rex Ryan is the epitome of the guy you love when he's with your team, but detest when he's not. Plus, we have the whole Mike Tomlin angle with the Steelers. And (sarcasm alert) I can't tell you how much I love it when former Vikings coaches move on and win Super Bowls with other teams.

In the NFC, maybe Soldier Field will implode, or the Packers bus driver won't have enough change to get through the toll roads in Illinois. I guess I have to make a pick because I have friends who are Bears fans lobbying me to root for their team (C'mon! You HATE the Packers!) and friends who are Packers fans lobbying me to root for their team (C'mon! You watched the Bears spoil your first outdoor NFL game in 30 years! And you HATE the Bears!).

Truth be told, the only thing that would interest me less is if somehow the Bears and Packers met in the Super Bowl. Or if Doc Emmett Brown and his flux capacitor brought together this year's Bears and Packers teams, along with the 98 Falcons and last year's Saints, and had some sort of in-your-face-Vikings-fans tournament for the championship of the world.

So, will my TV be on Fox at 2 p.m. Saturday? Well, only if I decide against doing the following:

* Sun tanning in my backyard. No need to put ice in my drink.
* A Ben Affleck movie marathon. Maybe it's time to give Gigli a chance.
* An emergency trip to the dentist. There's nothing wrong with my teeth, but a root canal might be more enjoyable.
* A shopping spree with Mrs. Feldy. Sunday afternoon might be a good time to finally embrace Bed, Bath and Beyond.

OK, if I have to make a pick, let's actually break this thing down. As much as my tummy can tolerate breaking this thing down.

All week, when someone's asked me who I'd pick, I've been leaning toward the Bears because they're built to win games at a place like Soldier Field (or Lambeau, for that matter). Strange as it may sound, the Packers are a team built to steamroll teams in a controlled setting. Their quick-strike passing game is ideal for a place like the Georgia Dome, or fields with artificial turf.

Plus, it's extremely difficult to win three games on the road in the playoffs (and, let's not forget, the Packers are the No. 6 seed and had to come down to their last regular season game just to make it into the postseason). The Packers are playing better than any team remaining, though.

Here's my problem with picking the Bears, though: Jay Cutler. He can implode at any second (if the Seattle defender actually intercepted that pass near the Seahawks goal line early in last week's game, that game might have swung Seattle's way). I don't trust him to not make the bad throw.

So it comes down to Jay Cutler's ability to self-destruct vs. Green Bay's built-for-turf team.

I'll go with the Bears, 24-20, and trust that Cutler will save his self-destructing ways for the Super Bowl.

December 21, 2010

Outdoor football in late December ... from a fan's perspective

FELDY: It's no secret that, when it comes to the Vikings, I fully admit to being a rube. I've had season tickets for 13 years (and this underlying need to constantly point out that me having tickets has nothing to do with being a sports writer; I had them for five years before I got into the biz).

So, when I watched last night's game from one of the lower level corners at TCF Bank Stadium, I was among 40,000 who decided instantly that the Vikings need to play in one of these outdoor things some teams play football in.

Honestly, had the game been played at Metrodome, I likely wouldn't have braved the roads to watch. But, this was more than a football game for Vikings fans, particularly of my generation. It's the first time many of the 40,000 fans had watched the Vikes play an outdoor football game at home. Most of us have only seen highlights of games from Met Stadium.

The group I was with arrived at TCF more than 90 minutes before kickoff and still found very good seats (about 12 rows up in the lower level, corner on the closed end of the horseshoe). The pre-game atmosphere was like it was a Christmas party with 40,000 people you didn't know, but had some sort of bond with (maybe it's the bond of following so many losing teams?). 

I'm guessing many of the 40,000 also had found shelter at one of the nearby watering holes before hand, which made the pre-game atmosphere all the better. None of the concerns I had heard before the game materialized: People fighting over seats or stealing seats when others went to the bathroom or concession stands.

The only trouble I saw all night was a couple of drunk college kids/idiots get hauled out by the police after throwing snowballs toward the field. And another idiot in a Packers jersey and a cheesehead trying to pick a fight with Vikings fans AND Bears fans because he was getting picked on. Ummm, memo to football fans: When your team's two biggest rivals are playing and you show up in your team's jersey (not to mention the styrofoam brick on your head), you might expect that people are going to give you a hard time.

As for the game, the Vikings first drive was a lot of fun; I have to say it's the first time I've seen fans throwing handfuls of snow up in the air after a Vikings TD at a home game. It was an electric atmosphere ... then Chicago decided to wake up and play.

For most Vikings fans, the loss didn't taint the experience, because we fully expected to come out on the losing end, and we've long ago checked out on this season, much like the Vikings players.

At the risk of turning this into a stadium debate, last night's game probably changed no one's opinion about whether or not the Vikings should get a new place to play. But it certainly made the fans who were there believe even more strongly that it should happen.