Vikings Panic, Fire DeFilippo in mid-stretch
We can only feel sympathy for John DeFilippo, who got the chance to bring in a fresh voice as new offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, who also brought in Kirk Cousins as multi-million-dollar quarterback. A match made in heaven, we were told.
Cynics may recall that last August, I suggested that the Vikings had made a huge mistake in not continuing to give the ball to Case Keenum, because in my opinion, Keenum has that mystical ability to unify the team into a bundle of positive chemistry. Remember, he came in as a No. 3 quarterback last year and led the Vikings to an 11-1 rest of the season. So that wasn’t good enough, and he was sent off to Denver, while Cousins came in with a strong arm and a record that includes none of Keenum’s ability to find a way to win.
Finding a way to win games is a valuable asset. Aaron Rodgers has it, or at least had it, until this season. Drew Brees has it in spades, and Russell Wilson has a huge dose of it in Seattle. It is the Seahawks who give us the most recent comparison, because their 21-7 victory over the Vikings in Monday night’s slugfest was a perfect example. It’s as if Wilson doesn’t care about personal statistics, he only wants to find a way to win, to pull victories out of the jaws of seemingly futile situations. He did not play well Monday night, but he came up with a pair of touchdown passes, and he made a sizzling 40-yard run for the most pivoatal rushing play of the game.
So the Vikings fired DeFilippo, and maybe it was his fault. It won’t take long to find out, because Miami is next up for the Vikings. Miami looked like dog-meat until Sunday, when the Dolphins pulled out a play called “Boise,” stolen from Boise State’s cleverly creative college offense. The play calls for a pass and then a lateral, which isn’t earth-shaking, it just rarely works.
Against the New England Patriots Sunday, someone named Ryan Tannehill faced impossible odds. He had led the Dolphins into a battle with New England, but Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 32-yard field goal to claim a 30-28 lead, and then he kicked a 22-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to make it 33-28.
From the Miami 31, Tannehill pitched a 14-yard pass to Kennyt Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who, in turn, lateraled to Kenyan Drake on the right sideline. Drake cut back across the middle, picked his way into the clear, and finished a 69-yard touchdown play with 0:00 glowing on the scoreboard clock. It was the longest scoring play from scrimmage to win a game since 1970, but there it was, giving the Miami Dolphins a 34-33 victory. Tannehill and the Dolphins are the next foe for Minnesota.
There were other spectacular Sunday. Consider Kansas City pulling out a 27-24 victory over Baltimore when Pat Mahomes scrambled on a fourth down and 9 play and threw a desperation pass to Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs stalled again at the 5, and faced another fourth down, when Mahomes hit Damien Williams for the touchdown that tied the game 24-all. Kansas City botched the chance to win as time expired when Harrison Butker missed a field goal, leading to overtime. Taking the ball first, Kansas City needed to score a touchdown to win, but settled for a 36-yard field goal by Butker to take a 27-24 lead. The Chiefs defense made it stand up, and KC is 11-2/
Possibly the best finish was Oakland’s stirring rally against mighty Pittsburgh, gaining a 23-21 lead when Derek Carr threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier with 21 seconds left. Too much time, when you’re facing Ben Roethlisberger, who left the game with bruised ribs, but came back and led a go-ahead touchdown drive that led to Carr’s TD pass, and with 21 seconds left, he threw a 48-yard hook-and-ladder pass play. Trailing 23-21, Chris Boswell could win the game with a short field goal. If it wasn’t so pivotal a play, it might have been the high-humor moment of the season. The snap came back, but as Boswell stepped forward, his left foot slipped on the turf and he blasted a low line drive kick that struck one of his blocking linemen right in the rear end. Game over.
And, oh yes, Drew Brees. The Saints played awful, and fell behind by 11 at halftime against Tampa Bay. But Brees thew one touchdown pass and then engineered another drive to the 1, from where Brees himself crashed into the end zone for the winning touchdown of a 28-14 victory.
Greyhounds-Jacks Collide Thursday
Duluth East lost a 2-1 game in the final minute of overtime at Andover Saturday afternoon, in a rematch of their memorable 3-2 East overtime victory in the Section 7AA championship game. Andover, an emerging state power, has its entire team back from last season.
But the Greyhounds don’t have any time to suffer, because they come back Thursday night for a 7 p.m. match at Essentia-Heritage Center against Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
“You can throw out the records, because nothing else matters when East plays Cloquet,” said East coach Mike Randolph. “I’m sure Heritage will be packed, and it was packed Saturday at Andover’s rink. Andover is as good as anybody in the state, and as this season goes by, other teams will find out how good they are.”
Randolph added that normally he has his lineup pretty well set by Christmas, “but not this year,” he added. “Lukan Hanson played well in goal for us, and I tried Konrad Kausch against Bemidji, and he played well too. At Andover, I used a third goalie, Brody Rabold, and he played well. So I’m not sure who I’ll use against Cloquet.
“And next week, we go to Centennial Tuesday, then to Marshall on Thursday, and to Lakeville North Saturday.”
Marshall, meanwhile, lost only 2-1 to Minnetonka Saturday, as Alex Busick was outstanding in goal. The top-ranked Skippers outshot Marshall 38-11 for the game.
And hockey fans will need to put off deciding which way the Masked Fan will go in his alternating support/ridicule of the Minnesota Wild. After teetering for about two weeks, the Wild buried Montreal 7-1 as Devan Dubnyk regained is touch in goal, and the Wild found a way to get along without the injured captain Mikko Koivu. Matt Dumba scored twice to tak ethe NHL lead among defensemen with 12 goals, six of them on power plays.
Meanwhile again, St. Scholastica will play host to Augsburg Saturday at Mars-Lakeview. And Twin Ports sports fans should make a point to see the Wisconsin-Superior women’s basketball team in action. They’ve won five straight and are 7-1 overall, and have never lost a UMAC game.