Saturday Play Of The Day

This was the Play Of the Day (POD) for our Saturday on August 25, 2007:

It was third down and his team was at midfield, facing a stingy defense. Under pressure, his quarterback tossed it up with a prayer into double coverage.

With one defender in front of him and one over the top, Adam leaped into the air between them and found four hands on the ball; one each belonging to the defenders and two were Adam’s own. But Adam clamped on and despite the ball being batted by two defenders, by the time his feet touched the ground he had sole possession of the ball.

The deep defender’s momentum carried him upfield, away from Adam who was now alone to turn upfield and race to the end zone for the score.

Thursday Play Of The Day

This was the Play Of the Day (POD) for our Thursday on August 23, 2007:

Ak‘s team was on offense at the start of the play, near midfield. But a defender jumped a route, snagged the ball for a pick, and went streaking down the field for an apparent touchdown.

But he didn’t know he had Ak breathing down his neck. As he was about to cross the goal line, at the one, Ak had caught up to him and stripped the ball away. The victim, the ball, and Ak all tumbled into the end zone and at the end of the play, it was Ak who rose with the ball in his hand, saving a touchdown and returning possession to his team.

The NFL Broke My Links!

The newly redesigned has a lot of great features and content but one major problem with it is that they changed the URL addresses for the individual player profiles and as a result, all the links I’ve made to them over the years in my pro football posts are now broken.

Here’s an example: The old link to Darren Sharper’s profile. The . If you look closely, you’ll see the URLs are different for both profiles but the old profile is not redirected to the new one.

It is something that can be fixed retroactively, so hopefully, they fix it.

I’m sorta thinking of linking to player profiles on Wikipedia from now on because they are less likely to change addresses.

If the details of’s broken links interest you, I’ve written about it at my .

So, if you’re running into broken links to football players, that’s why.

Minnesota Vikings Vs. Seattle Seahawks

This is what I want to see tonight:

  1. : I hope they let him pass a lot. I mainly want to see if he makes good decisions in the passing game and doesn’t fumble the snap or the handoffs. We know he’s got a strong arm. We know he can run. We don’t yet know if he’ll be a smart quarterback. I also want to see him run the two minute offense.
  2. The right side of the offensive line: is starting tonight a right guard in place of , but Hicks will get plenty of playing time. It appears will be the right tackle and I’m fine with that. I thought, though he was raw last year, he was a vast improvement over . Will Johnson be overmatched again tonight?
  3. : A lot. Just because.
  4. Wide Receivers: I do want to see but only a little. He’s pretty much a known commodity: A good, tough receiver who gets hurt. I want to see them go deep a couple times to down the left sideline because that has always seemed to be the most difficult catch for him. I want to see a lot more of , , and , so we can see what we’ve got with those three. And how ’bout , that track star we invested a three year contract in? Let’s see what he’s got.
  5. : And a lot of him. Has he done anything this preseason except block? I guess he caught one pass, but I can’t even remember it, so it must’ve been unremarkable. I want to see if he can stretch the defense, as advertised. If teams are going to try and shut down our receiving corps, we’re going to have to kill them with Shaincoe, so he’s an important part of the passing game.
  6. : I hope to God he’ll return with that burst he showed last year before getting injured. If he’s healthy, we’ve got three good pass rushing right ends in James, and rookie . That would mean that with the way the Vikings rotate their D-lineman, we’ll be able to get consistent pressure on all downs from the right side. I’d like to see start on the left side because at least he gets some sacks. I am also looking forward to seeing what we’ve got in .
  7. : He had a great game last week but didn’t really show up in the first preseason game. I’d like to be assured that last week wasn’t a fluke.
  8. and : This is the best battle on defense and I think we’ll be fine with whoever wins the nickle spot. I give Edwards the nod because of experience. Edwards has got the speed but McCauley has got the size and he’s not slow, either.
  9. The Defense Against A Spread Offense: I don’t know if we’ll see it tonight, but the Jets tried it against us and we had an answer. I want to see consistent success against the spread.
  10. Oh, and I almost failed to mention: .

Saturday Play Of The Day

This was the Play Of the Day (POD) for our Saturday on August 18, 2007:

Last Saturday was an absolutely glooooorrrrrrrious rain-soaked, mud-caked affair that reminded us all just how much fun playing in the slop can be.

After many years’ absence, the return of mudball, predictably, brought all too many dropped passes, errant throws, and slip-sliding receivers. That’s partly why the Play Of the Day stands out. On any other day, it would simply be a no-sweat routine catch for John, but not last Saturday.

John ran a fly route down the right sideline and his quarterback lofted the ball high and long for him to run under. Only problem was, he wasn’t really looking and only saw the ball as it dropped into his hands. But he secured the ball with ease and had both toes in with merely an inch to spare before he ran out of sideline.

For a graceful play on an otherwise clumsy day, John gets Play Of The Day.

Thursday Play Of The Day

This was the Play Of the Day (POD) for our Thursday on August 16, 2007:

Max gets the Play Of The Day from last Thursday for an unbelievable catch. It was fourth and long with his team about 15 yards short of a first down. Max ran just beyond the midfield and turned around as the ball was thrown.

The ball was a bullet to him but it was very low and somehow, miraculously, he caught the ball with his ankles! Trapped between his ankles, he reached down to ensure that the ball did not hit the ground. Max gave his team new life with an astounding catch and for that he earns the Play Of The Day.

Robert Ferguson Video

The Vikings signed former Green Bay Packers receiver to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $1.3 million, according to the .

The seven year veteran stands 6’1" and weighs 219 lbs. From what I remember of him, he’s a tough receiver unafraid of going across the middle but he’s taken some heavy punishment as a result. He’s been injured much of his career; last year he played only four games, catching five tosses for 31 yards and a touchdown.

His best year was 2003, his second, during which he had 38 receptions for 520 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 13.7 yards per reception that year. He’s never scored more than four touchdowns in a season.

We can only hope he can stay healthy. From what I’ve seen, he’s got good hands, and, as I said, he’s tough so why not give him a try? We’ve already got a slot receiver, but you know what they say about beggars. At the very least, he’s another veteran presence among a very young receiving corps.

The only Robert Ferguson video I could find was at his profile on the site. .

Preseason – Minnesota Vikings Vs. NY Jets

  Preseason – Rams 
  Originally uploaded by vikingsfrenzy

Football season couldn’t have come at a better time. With the Twins being such frustrating teases all season long, hovering around six games back with a chance to get back in the pennant race but not being quite good enough to win the games they should win, it’s nice that they aren’t the only game in town anymore.

Vikings Free Agency

This off season was a particularly painful one for Vikings fans. In a weak market for receivers, the team went after one high profile guy in Kevin Curtis and settled on , a guy who had a well-deserved reputation for dropping passes. The team signed a tight end no one had ever heard of in , a special teams ace in linebacker , injured safety , receiver and another "wide receiver" , a guy who has never played football.

So you’re thinking, great, the rebuilding continues…with average players. I do not remember a more dispiriting Vikings off season.

The Vikings Draft

But then the rolls around and the picks give you reason to hope. is clearly a talented and explosive back but who has durability issues. We stocked up on receivers with , , and ; took a cornerback who was project to be a first round pick last year in ; got depth at linebacker with ; took a pass rushing defensive end in ; and got another young gun in quarterback .

The draft gave me a bit of hope. If he stays healthy Adrian Peterson could be an amazing running back; Sidney Rice, at 6′ 4" is a nice tall target and Allison and Chandler Williams have got speed. Then there’s Marcus McCauley, the first-round grade cornerback.

Hope springs eternal during the preseason and I’m perfectly happy to oblige.

The Vikings Preseason

The Vikings are heading into the 2007 season with essentially three number one draft picks. There’s Adrian Peterson, of course, but If you also count Marcus McCauley, who, as I said, most people consider a first round talent, and last year’s first round pick , who didn’t play last year because of injury, we’ve got three first rounders this year.

You have to figure the offensive line will be better–hopefully much improved–after a year together in the zone blocking scheme. So the only questions on offense are 1) playcalling, 2) , and the wide receiving corps.

The defense looks to have gotten stronger with a healthy Greenway, a healthy and , and the addition of McCauley and Mike Doss. I think we’ve got four starters at the corners, intense competition at safety, more speed at linebacker, and the only question is at the defensive end positions.

I was very impressed with last season and now he’s got a year’s experience under his belt. But it remains to be seen how will bounce back from his injury and has done nothing to warrant anyone’s confidence.

I don’t know if special teams can get much worse than last year, so we’ll see what happens there.

Preseason Games

So what do we know after two preseason games? So far, so good.

The Offense

The offense looks to be better for having been liberated from Childress‘ playcalling script.

Thus far, Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t done anything to make you groan but he hasn’t had many chances to make mistakes yet, either. He has lead a few impressive drives, he looks decisive, and he hasn’t had any center/quarterback exchange problems, so his concentration is good.

But if Jackson isn’t the real deal, then we’re in real trouble.

Against St. Louis, the Vikings got the ball to Troy Williamson early and frequently and the receiver caught all the catches you expect him to make. On the one he didn’t haul in, it was a difficult catch because the ball was thrown high and Williamson had a receiver draped all over him. He probably should’ve caught it, but at this point, who are we to quibble? It’s progress.

Against the Jets, Williamson got a long bomb down the right sideline and he fought for position with the defender, got the position, looked to have a bead on the ball with his hands in position for the catch but the safety came in to swat the ball away before Williamson could have a chance at it.

It is notable that they haven’t yet thrown to him down the left sideline. Williamson has historically had the ball slip through his arms on deep passes where he’s had to look over his right shoulder. That’s something to watch for in the remaining preseason games.

Bobby Wade is as advertised. He’s a catch and run slot guy who has caught nearly everything thrown to him. So far he’s proved me wrong about him being stone-handed. He did not make a tough third down pass that would have given the Vikes a fresh set of downs but he did have a defender all over him. Still, he should’ve caught the ball. He’s shown several times that he’s got the ability to make people miss and make a lot of yards after the catch, so that’s very good.

Wad is also an excellent blocker, a talent he showed off on Peterson’s 43 yard run against the Jets by sealing one defender to allow Peterson to get out on the edge, then moving on to another which freed Peterson up for a long run.

What little we’ve seen of Sidney Rice thus far has been good. He’s a big guy who’s not afraid to catch the ball in a crowd. Aundrae Allison and Chandler Williams have yet to make an impression, but Martin Nance has had a few nice nabs.

New tight end Visanthe Shiancoe has not yet shown up as a receiver, so we’ll watch for him to make some plays.

We didn’t get to see much of what Adrian Peterson can do against the Rams but man did we in his performance against the Jets. The shake and bake, the spin, the acceleration; we haven’t seen that in a running back since Robert Smith. You could see his power when he hit congestion at the line and moved the pile. For all his toughness, we didn’t see a lot of that from Chester Taylor last season. Peterson looked like he was hitting the holes a little too quickly at times but the patience should come. If he learns to pick up blitzes effectively, we could be in for a lot of entertaining football. Here are Peterson’s highlights from the Jets game:

The offensive line looks good enough but depth is still an issue; against the Jets, demonstrated yet again his trouble picking up the outside rush.

The Defense

Well, it looks like the defense will still be the strength of the team and very possibly much better than last year.

The defense has been fantastic thus far. Against the Rams, linebacker Dontarrious Thomas took his pick 82 yards to the house for the Vikings’ only touchdown and safety Dwight Smith picked Marc Bulger to end another Rams’ drive. Against the Jets, both Darren Sharper and Chad Greenway returned interceptions for touchdowns and rookie Brian Robison recovered a fumble for a score.

I think the secondary is stronger than last year. A healthy Tank Williams and newcomer Mike Doss provide competition and depth at the safety spots. If they both make the team, we’ll have experienced starters as backups regardless of what the depth chart looks like.

At the corners we’ve got Winfield and , who I liked a lot last year. He’s got a year under his belt and should only improve. Marcus McCauley has looked solid so far and Dovonte Edwards is healthy and had a pick against the Jets. Those two will battle for the nickel spot and regardless who wins the spot, we’ll have an upgrade in both speed and talent at both the nickel and the dime positions.

At linebacker we lost Napoleon Harris and so E.J. Henderson will move to the middle linebacking position. He didn’t fare so well at that position early in his career but he had a fantastic season last year and let’s hope that experience and maturity will help him excel at the Mike position.

Ben Leber returns after a solid season last year and Greenway is healthy. Chad Greenway didn’t do much against the Rams but he was outstanding against the Jets. In addition to scoring on an interception return, he lead the team in tackles and sniffed out a screen and tackled the Jets’ back for a loss. He’s very fast, so our drop coverage in the Tampa 2 will probably improve. Dontarrious Thomas provides depth as a roaming backer but with rookie Rufus Alexander lost for the year (what is it with linebackers and season-ending injuries?) with an ACL injury and Jason Glenn retiring, we’re a little thin at the position.

Ray Edwards has been a rock star at defensive end so far this preseason; in both games he’s put consistent pressure on the quarterback and his rush of Chad Pennington caused the ill-advised pass that Greenway picked off for a score.

It has been rookie Brian Robison who has had the most eye-opening performance this preseason. He had one sack against the Rams and was absolutely unstoppable, putting constant pressure on the passer. But I withheld judgment until I got to see him play against a first-team line. Against the Jet, Robison had four tackles, one sack, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

I was wrong about Robison. When the Vikings picked him, it looked like a reach to me. I was really wrong. The guy is lightning-quick. He made D’Brickshaw Ferguson look like he was playing in water and put some pretty good moves on the tackle on his way to the quarterback.

On one play he motored in around the tackle and though he didn’t have a chance for a sack, he batted the ball out of Kellen Clemens‘ hands for a forced fumble that the Jets recovered. On the very next play, the Jets center snapped an errant ball that Clemens couldn’t reach from the shotgun position.

Robison, of course, was there in the backfield and as Clemens reached down for the ball, he smartly pushed the quarterback out of the way, and all in one motion scooped up the ball, and dove into the end zone for the score. A lot of players would have either tried to tackle the quarterback or dove for the ball but Robison realized he’d have a clearer path to the ball by simply pushing the QB out of the way.

If Erasmus James returns to his former self and we can get either Edwards or Robison to play the opposite side, we won’t have to worry about whether or not Udeze fulfills his promise.

‘s defense looks very much like ‘s of last year, except with more blitzing. It’s been effective. We may even see some .

Special Teams

Vinny Ciurciu doesn’t seem to have improved the coverage units measurably, so that remains a weakness. , however, may just beat out for the punter position on the strength of his kickoff power and his directional punting ability. Reyes’ kickoffs haven’t been particularly consistent but at least he’s hit some to the one and three yard lines. Neither Kluwe nor Reyes has displayed much power on their punts, but Reyes can do the coffin corner.

It was impressive to see the field goal unit quickly assemble on field as time ticked away before the half of the Jets game and nail a 54 yard field goal as time expired.

And, by the way, it was a 54 yard field goal. Outside. In wet weather. Last year, was solid inside the forty but had trouble with the longer field goals.

Next Saturday: Seattle Seahawks

We should get to see some extended play of Tarvaris Jackson on Saturday and I expect he’ll throw a lot. Expect the ball to be thrown primarily to Troy Williamson, Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison and Visanthe Shiancoe.

The defensive spotlight will shine on Erasmus James to see how his recovery has progressed.

Remembering the Twins’ 1987 World Series

Photo: 1987 Minnesota Twins World Series Championship Ring
Minnesota Twins 1987 World Series Championship Ring

Updated 2/24/2019: I updated this post to fix missing videos and added a few more.

With the Minnesota Twins celebrating the 20th anniversary of the team’s first World Series championship, I have, of course, been reminiscing.

In 1987, I was living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I attended Coe College.

I was a Twins fan as a  kid and I played baseball daily in both Little League and during summer pickup games. The players I watched included:

  • Harmon Killebrew,
  • Tony Oliva,
  • Bert Blyleven,
  • Jim Kaat,
  • Bill “Soup” Campbell,
  • Dave Goltz,
  • Jerry Koosman,
  • Dan Ford,
  • Larry Hisle,
  • Lyman Bostock,
  • Butch Wynegar, 
  • Roy Smalley and
  • Ken Landreaux

But my favorite player was, of course, Rod Carew. In 1977 I watched him flirt with a .400 batting average.

To this day, he was the best hitter I’ve ever seen. I go crazy watching the current Twins–or most current Major Leaguers, for that matter–bunt because Carew was such a master at it. He was also a master at stealing home.

Not Winning Enough

While I got to watch many talented baseball players, I never got to see the Twins in post-season play. In ’69 and ’70, they made it to the American League Championship Series, but I was five. The only World Series appearance the team had made was in 1965, when the team was four years old.

The Vikings, however, were perennial winners during my childhood. The young Vikings team had advanced to Super Bowl IV, but that was before I started following sports.

I started watching them when I was nine years old, 1973, the year they drafted outstanding running back Chuck Foreman.

The year before, the Vikes traded several players and two draft picks to reacquire quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Those two additions helped the Vikings win their first nine games of 1973, finish the season 12-2, and advance to Super Bowl VIII, where they lost to the Miami Dolphins.

The Vikings returned to the Super Bowl twice more after the 1974 and 1976 seasons, but lost both of those as well. They would have played in the Super Bowl after the 1975 season, were it not for the cheating Dallas Cowboys.

During the early eighties, the Vikings had some average seasons but in 1987 came within an inch of the Super Bowl when Redskins corner Darrell Green knocked the pass out of Darrin Nelson‘s hands to deny the Vikes a last second touchdown.

So during my childhood, my professional sports memories are filled with losing and not quite winning enough.

From 1980 to 1986, the Twins never finished better than third place; in 1986, they finished sixth in a seven team division. It was tough, therefore, to be a Twins fan during my college year; particularly because my annoying Chicago classmates were merciless in their teasing me over the Twinkies.


Then came 1987.

At that time, while at college, I also managed a restaurant and did some freelance copywriting. During the World Series, I visited with a copywriter for one of the top advertising agencies in Cedar Rapids, trying to make a name for myself and pry my way into the advertising business.

“How ’bout them boys from St. Louie?!?” he said to one of his coworkers, as I followed him to his office. I bit my lip.

It was interesting being in Cedar Rapids at that time because half of the town was rooting for the Cardinals and half was rooting for the Twins.

I tried, but couldn’t take off work from the restaurant for many of the games of the series, so I was reduced to asking customers the score, then dashing home to watch the highlights on CNN and devouring a copy of the Cedar Rapids Gazette in the morning.

Twins 1987 parade

I did managed to find someone to work my shift for Game Seven.

My girlfriend, who was also from Minnesota, and I watched the game at our apartment. We watched a nail-biting game featuring a remarkable eight inning pitching performance by Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola and a ninth save by closer Jeff Reardon for the win and the championship.


The elation over my Twins world championship was due as much to the relief that we’d finally won as it was to the joy of winning itself.

You have to understand the context.

No modern Minnesota sports team had ever won a championship. We were always getting a sniff of the ultimate victory, but never the taste.

In baseball, the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965. Four times the Vikings played in a Super Bowl game and four times they lost. In 1961, the Minnesota Gophers football team lost to Washington in the Rose Bowl.

Long before the Timberwolves, the Minneapolis Lakers won three NBA championships before the team moved to Los Angeles, but I wasn’t born yet, so it doesn’t count.

Losing the big one was not merely confined to sports, though.

My state was a two-time loser in presidential politics as well. In 1968, former Minnesota Senator and then-Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey lost the presidential race to Richard Nixon. Again in 1984, former Minnesota Senator and former Vice President Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan.

Add to that the economic uncertainty of the time (Black Monday occurred on the first off-day of the series), and you have not just the winning of a championship but the relief and redemption of an entire state.

I didn’t get to enjoy the subsequent parade but I did watch it from afar. This is someone’s home movie of the parade. There there is no sound.

This is a tribute that was shown yesterday: