Vikings close Central gap

By Larry Fitzgerald
Contributing Writer

For the Vikings, the future is brighter now after coming back in the second half Sunday to beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-21 and improve to 2-3.

They picked up a full game on NFC Central rivals Chicago, Green Bay and Detroit, who all lost Sunday.

It was a key playoff rematch of last year’s divisional round between two of the NFL’s top franchises. Both teams entered this season with high expectations; the Cowboys are the host to next year’s Super Bowl at their new state-of-the-art stadium.

And the Vikings, losers of last year’s NFC Championship, are in hot pursuit of their third-straight playoff appearance. Both teams really needed Sunday’s game in the worst way at 1-3, since the loser would fall virtually out of playoff contention at 1-4. There is plenty of football left to be played, however.

Making the playoffs after starting 1-4 is a tall order.

But thanks to a solid total team performance, the Vikings are back in the chase at 2-3. Trailing the Cowboys 14-7 at half, Percy Harvin took the second-half kickoff and raced 95 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.

The Vikings have had a habit this year of falling behind early versus Miami and New York and having to chase their opponents down. They could easily be 5-0, but turnovers swung the tide. However, this Sunday it was the Cowboys who cracked in the spotlight of this nationally televised rematch.

Dallas had 11 penalties for 91 yards; one of their penalties was huge, costing them a touchdown to Miles Austin. The Vikings only had 188 yards in total offense, 95 yards rushing, but Favre had his first game with zero interceptions and his first game with a 106.9 Q-B rating.

Favre completed 14 of 19 for a modest 118 yards and a touchdown. He has battled tendonitis in his right elbow and took a shot last week to deal with the pain.

He also did not throw for two days, allowing the inflammation to settle down.

Favre has started a record 290 consecutive games.

Linebacker E.J Henderson was outstanding with two interceptions of Tony Romo passes that set up Vikings scores. He will likely be the NFC defensive player of the game.

Randy Moss, in his first game back in Purple at home, had five catches for 55 yards, but he was credited by his teammates for his motivational halftime speech. Apparently it fired the Vikings up, because they took control in the second half and played better as a team.

Favre will meet this week with the NFL on their probe of whether he acted inappropriately towards New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger in 2008.

A website, Deadspin, published a story that included voice mails and lewd photos it said were sent by Favre to Sterger’s cellphone. Favre said of this story, “I’ll let the other stuff take care of itself.”

The Vikings will travel Sunday to Green Bay (3-3), where Favre and the Vikings will be featured on NBC Sports Sunday Night Football. That should be quite the scene. It’s the third time the Vikings have been featured on national TV this year: Favre, Moss and Adrian Peterson in prime time at Lambeau Field. Last year, Favre and the Vikings were 2-0 against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to lfitzgerald@spokesman-recorder.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.