Friday, November 8, 2013

Washington Redskins 27 at Minnesota Vikings 34 - November 7, 2013


This is the last year that the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will host the NFL as the Vikings will be building a new stadium slated to open in 2016. As well, I visited here when the Bills faced Brett Favre back in 2010 so there is no need to write about it. For posterity, I will include a few pictures as the dome is not long for this earth.



Invisible roof in that shot.



Barely visible with the sky behind it nearly the same colour.



Is he flipping us the bird?



Nice skyline and sunset before gates opened.



The Viking Ship will no doubt make the trip to the new stadium (and to TCF Bank Stadium for the next two years).



Postgame after most fans have cleared out. The large group on the right is screaming at the NFL Network set.

My Ticket

This was not a popular game in the area, and there were tickets available at the box office. I wanted to sit down low though, so I spent some time outside talking to the friendly neighborhood scalpers, one of whom had a single 5 rows from the field in the end zone. During the trip, I like to sit in different areas, and had yet to sit this low, so after some negotiating, I got him down to a reasonable price, and entered Turned out the seat (section 118) had only one row in front of it and was directly behind the goalposts, a cool view, especially for field goals. Even better, it was right in the middle of the section (seat 18 of 35) so I figured that I wouldn't be bothered by those morons who choose to get food and drink during the play. Nope, some total morons, sitting in seat 12 of row 4, decided to go back and forth to their left, disrupting 19 people instead of 11. Aargh. Of course, the goalposts also block the view on occasion, but this is not a problem as you can move your head to see the play, although I would rather sit one section to the left or right as that is where most touchdowns are scored.



The Card Stunt

The game was sponsored by the USAA, an insurance conglomerate that caters to members of the military. Before the game, they had taped cards to each seat, which were to be held up during the national anthem. One sideline said "Thank You Veterans", the other "Thank You Military", while the end zone seats were a stylized flag. It actually looked better before people started sitting down.







The people in the corners and upper end zones had nothing to do. I was sitting in the lower end zone and had a red card for one of the flag stripes.



The Game



After seeing the Vikings in New York a couple of weeks ago, I had low expectations for this game, but  you can never count out a team with Adrian Peterson (above). Meanwhile, Christian Ponder was back in the lineup for Minnesota and got the start, only to be intercepted by Brandon (Go for the ACL) Meriweather on the first drive. It's interesting how Meriweather's comments were immediately forgotten in all the Richie Incognito mess. Anyway, Washington, led by Robert Griffin III (below), drove down to the Minnesota 1-yard line, where they were stymied and forced to kick a short field goal.



After that, both defenses took a nap as the next four drives resulted in touchdowns, including an 11-yard pass from Griffin to Jordan Reed, celebrating below. The first half had eight total possessions, Washington scored on all four of theirs, while Minnesota scored twice, and it was 24-14 at the half for the visitors.



Halftime is about adjustments though, and the Vikings made some on defense, particularly in the pass rush, which had four sacks in the second half after getting none in the first. Although Washington kicked a field goal to open the third quarter and take a 27-14 lead, that would be their last points on the evening. Alfred Morris (#46 below) was still solid, running for 139 yards overall, but the passing game was held to just 63 yards after netting 179 in the first half.



Ponder led the Vikings on a couple of long drives, using play action to Peterson to keep the defense honest and then usually throwing short, relying on his receivers for yards after the catch. After a 28-yard TD pass and run to John Carlson (the longest pass play on the day for the Vikings) got them within a score, Minnesota again stopped the Redskins. On the punt, which Marcus Sherels returned 20 yards, Washington's Darrel Young committed an unnecessary roughness penalty (one of 8 infractions by his squad compared to just 1 for the Vikings) to add 15 more yards and Minnesota was sitting pretty at the Washington 41.



Ponder drove the team to the 15, where he scrambled in for a touchdown, getting hit hard on the play and coming up holding his left arm. To make matters worse, the play was reviewed and it was ruled that he fumbled the ball at the one yard line. Matt Cassel (below) came in and handed the ball to Peterson, who easily scored his second touchdown of the game and the Vikings suddenly had a 28-27 lead with one quarter to go.



On Washington's next possession, Griffin was sacked twice to force a punt, and Minnesota kicked a field goal on their next drive to extend their lead. Another Vikings sack quickly ended Washington's ensuing possession, and again Cassel was able to patiently move the team down the field, resulting in another field goal and a 34-27 lead.



Washington's final drive began at their own 20 with 3:36 to go, and looked to be stopped at the 2-minute warning when Young was stopped for no gain on a 3rd-and-1. With no choice but to go for it, Griffin called his own number and scampered for 12 yards (above) to keep the drive alive. The Redskins continued to move down the field, and Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier called two timeouts to rest his defense, much to the surprise of the fans. With 38 seconds left and no timeouts left, the Redskins faced 2nd and goal from the 4. Two incompletions made it 4th and 4, and on the last play, Griffin tried a fade to Santana Moss (#89 below) who was defended by Sherels. The pass was caught in the end zone but Moss couldn't get both feet down in bounds and it was ruled incomplete.



That was it, Minnesota had their first victory of the season on American soil (their other win was in London). This was a fun game but not an especially good one as 11 of 17 possessions resulted in scores. Neither defense played particularly well, but it is always nice to have the home team win in a comeback. I loved sitting down low, although it is tough to see whether the first down marker has been reached, I would not turn down a chance to sit in that area again.



Cris Carter

At halftime, the Vikings had the Hall of Fame ring ceremony for Cris Carter, who is their all-time leading receiver and who was inducted to the Hall in August. He seemed pretty happy before the game. Most fans stayed in their seats to hear his speech, which was necessarily short as the NFL halftime is only 12 minutes long.



Cheerleaders

One of the advantages of sitting low is getting to see the cheerleaders. They spent the first half in their regular purple uniforms, but switched at halftime to a military theme, with five different costumes. I present these photos without comment.









Best,

Sean

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