The Football Gods look poorly upon cheaters and have a great tendency to reward the courageous – both were done during the Vikings defeat of the 49ers 24-13.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told the post-game press that he has been preaching home security the past week; it was evident on Sunday, as the Vikings played like a team that didn’t take kindly to the San Francisco 49ers coming into town with a swagger of pre-determined NFC Champs.
On the first drive of the game, the Vikings faced a 4-and-1 near the goal line. The smart money would have kicked the ball. The safe play would be to take the 3 points from the field goal. They would be fine and dandy, but ‘no guts, no glory’.
The Vikings went for a touchdown instead. Their gutsy play pleased the crowd and the Football Gods. Christian Ponder found his tight end, Kyle Rudolph, in the endzone. The Vikings barely looked back the rest of the game.
Frazier sent a message to his team that he trusted them. In return, they played above their heads. They 49ered the 49ers. Christian Ponder played smart, controlled football, passing for for 198 yards on 21-of-35 attempts and 2 Touchdowns. He also ran for an additional 33 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings ran well against a normally staunch defense.
Even more reflective of the 49ers was the Vikings defense. They contained Alex Smith to just 204 yards of offense. Their dominance cumulated with 2 punts and 3 turnovers in the foruth quarter.
Perhaps, it wasn’t the Vikings defense being inspired but rather the intervention of the Football Gods upon the 49ers during that fateful 4th quarter.
The Vikings were running the ball heavily during the 4th quarter since they were up by 11 and wanted to eat clock. They went to Toby Gerhart often to pound the ball. He fumbled after Harbaugh used San Francisco’s third and final timeout.
The replacement referees didn’t catch that Harbaugh wasn’t allowed to challenge. Without explaination, they granted the third timeout back to San Francisco. They reviewed the fumble and granted the recovery to the 49ers.
Alex Smith quickly broke his streak of 248 throws of no interceptions going back to last November.
In déjà vu, the Vikings went back to Gerhart who fumbled once again. The ruling on the field gave Minnesota the ball.
Harbaugh knowing he still didn’t have any timeouts.
Harbaugh knew he got away with challenging the play the first time.
Harbaugh took advantage of their lack of knowledge and threw the red challenge flag.
In déjà vu all over again, the replacement referees didn’t notice the lack of ability and granted Harbaugh’s request. This time, however, the Vikings retained the ball and they finally took Harbaugh’s final timeout away. When the 49ers did finally get the ball, it ended with a fumble by Alex Smith. The fourth quarter was one big attempt to get up for the initial shock of being punched by an (perceived) inferior team. It was too little, too late.
After defeating a couple of top contending teams in the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the loss to the lowly Vikings is a shock. It was almost as shocking as Randy Moss’ return to Minnesota going off so silently. He caught only 3 passes for 27 yards.
With the disappointment now in the past, the 49ers move on to the Jets.
With their new found confidence, the Vikings take on the Lions.
San Francisco is now 2-1
Minnesota is now 2-1
Photo Credit: Getty