I've been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings for nearly 40 years now. Yes I've experienced some utterly devastating losses by my favorite NFL squad, particularly in the postseason. The NFC championship games of the 1998 and 2009 seasons immediately come to mind.
Oh, and the 1975 divisional playoff game at home vs. Dallas (aka the "Hail Mary" game)? Ugh.
The 1987 title game loss was tough to stomach, too. As was the 2003 regular season finale.
Well, you get the point.
In the immediate aftermath of Sunday's 10-9 wildcard playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, all those aforementioned hideous defeats came to mind. As such, the obligatory pity party among my fellow Vikings fans commenced. When your team's kicker comes on for a 27-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds remaining, you have to feel good about your chances, especially since he hit two of 40+ yards earlier in the game. So when Blair Walsh badly shanked wide left the potential game winner, many of us Vikes faithful (after collective shrieks of "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!") threw up our hands and accepted this as our lot in life.
Nothing better illustrated the fans' post game vibe than the following Venn diagram:
While it was difficult to put things in its proper perspective in the immediate aftermath of such a tough loss, I was still able to feel good about the Vikings' immediate future. Besides, I had no delusions about them making a Super Bowl run this season (but it would have nice to gauge where they are had they been able to take on the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals next week).
I'm not lying when I say I feel optimistic going forward. It's clear that coach Mike Zimmer has put his stamp on this team in that they're in almost every game due to solid defensive play. Even better is the "D" is relatively young, so there's ample opportunity to become more formidable the next few years. And while many Vikings fans lament the offense not throwing the deep ball much due to QB Teddy Bridgewater's perceived limitations, we need to remember he's only 23-years old. This idea that quarterbacks are supposed to be the caliber of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers the millisecond they make their first NFL start (or even within their first 2-3 seasons for that matter) is not realistic. While I'm certainly not guaranteeing 100% that Bridgewater can lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl, I believe he has the skill set, demeanor and intellect to be a very good NFL QB. And with the kind of defense Zimmer develops, a "very good" quarterback is more than sufficient.
But for the next week or two, I won't be overly critical of my fellow purple & gold faithful for expressing regret and sadness over what might have been.