In covering the NFL and the Vikings all these years since 1978, I feel the disappointment and frustration of Vikings fans. The purple pain cuts so deep because expectations were sky high for this team. Not since 2003 when the Vikings started 6-0 under Mike Tice and also missed the playoffs have the team’s prospects looked so hopeful.
Tice’s Vikings finished 9-7; this year’s team was just 8-8. And this season again, like 2003, fell into the hands of Green Bay. The Packers rallied then as they did this season to win the Division with a 10-6 record.
After mauling the Bears Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium 38-10, the Vikings finished 8-8, losing eight of their last 11 games, just 2-4 in the NFC North and 5-3 at home. Injuries were a big part of the reason why, no doubt. But injuries are like missed free throws — you can’t use them as a scapegoat.
This is professional football. All 32 teams start with $127 million, and you have to build a competitive team.
People pay big money to be entertained. Try asking some of the 66,000 season ticket Vikings fans, many of whom paid thousands more for tickets and seat license fees in 2016 for the Vikings experience at U.S. Bank Stadium than they paid for any season in team history.
It’s over, folks. 5-0 — get over it. Just like that, like a fart in a wind storm, the Vikings finished third in the Division behind 9-7 Detroit and 10-6 Green Bay, who both qualified for the playoffs. Those playoffs start this weekend with the Wild Card games as 9-7 Detroit, the NFC sixth seed, travels to 10-5-1 Seattle to play the NFC West Champion Seahawks.
The Packers (10-6), who rallied after losing four straight games and allowing 30 points in all four losses to win the NFC North and winning six straight games, will host the 11-5 New York Giants on Sunday.
The AFC games are 12-4 Oakland at 10-6 Houston and 10-6 Miami traveling to 11-5 Pittsburgh. The other four playoff teams earned first-round byes as Division champions with the best records in the AFC, 14-2 New England and 12-4 Kansas City, and the NFC teams 13-3 Dallas and 11-5 Atlanta.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.