Brian Murphy: The 2022 Vikings are a decade’s worth of madness
Before we start our weekly purple therapy, let’s make one thing clear. Saturday’s shocking Vikings victory was not the Minneapolis Miracle 2.0.
That would be too convenient to compare the unrivaled experience that unspooled over four confounding hours at US Bank Stadium.
Nothing equals pulling a playoff loss out of the crematorium and living to breathe another day like Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs did in 2017. Not even an historic comeback like Minnesota’s absurd 39-36 humbling of the sad-sack Colts.
This was a regular-season outlier of the outrageous.
Hell with the lid off.
Linda Blair spinning her fissured face like a top, spraying the monsignor and her bedroom walls with Beelzebub’s bile.
You do not watch the 2022 Vikings week after bewildering week. You endure them. With equal parts dread and wonder. Like elective surgery. Unless the cirrhosis is already too advanced.
Who needs acid when you can drop out every weekend with an unhinged football team that has no idea where this trip is headed either?
Surrender to the void. It’s the only white flag flying anywhere near this supposedly cursed but suddenly sun-kissed franchise.
I’ve been preaching all season to ignore analytical reason and just enjoy the unscripted ride. But after watching Minnesota fall behind 33-0 at halftime at home to junior varsity Indianapolis and rally for the greatest come-from-behind win in the 122-year history of the NFL … welp, you’re on your own now.
See you on the other side.
The NFC North champions are a perfectly choreographed train wreck that won’t stop moving. They are a total aberration at 11-3, defying fate with enough folly and resilience to fuel a normal team for decades, let alone a season.
Five weeks ago in Buffalo, the Vikings turned water into wine with an overtime comeback for the ages.
When Justin Jefferson climbed a stairway to heaven and came down with a fourth-down catch that will highlight his induction at Canton. And one of the league’s best quarterbacks, Josh Allen, fumbled in his own end zone to resuscitate Minnesota in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter.
All just cheap conversation compared to the about-face they pulled against the shellshocked Colts.
Forget labeling this unpredictable team or handicapping their postseason bona fides. They’re like Hollywood executives trying to explain what makes a hit movie. Nobody knows anything.
Despite fatal flaws that would doom mere mortals, the Vikings are the great un-dead. It takes more than daylight, garlic and a dagger to the heart to snuff them when all hope is lost.
Playing defense is a myth until a turnover, sack or three-and-out are required for survival.
Playing four quarters of offense is illegal until Kirk Cousins finds a phone booth to change into Kirko Chainz and sling dart after clutch dart.
Playing with their fans’ jagged emotions is a felony until the kumbaya drum circle brings everyone back thirsty for more jello shots and second-half drama.
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Of course it’s not sustainable. But we’ve been saying that since September.
Their brutal 30-minute performance against the Jeff Saturday “coached” Colts was the offramp the boobirds and armchair skeptics had been seeking to escape the surrealism.
The Vikings had three paltry first downs and just 87 yards of total offense compared to Indy’s 12 and 209, Matt Ryan’s toe tag notwithstanding.
I haven’t seen anyone lay down that sheepishly since Fredo in the boat house: “I can handle things! I’m smart!”
Minnesota was lining up to be the first 10-win team to either back into the playoffs or defer its postseason berth. A gong show of biblical proportion.
Five touchdowns, 431 yards and one game-winning field goal later, the Vikings were celebrating their first division championship in five years with both hands clutching the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff race.
Battle-scarred and bemused as the rest of us.
“This is crazy man; I am lost for words,” said veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson, who normally must be comatose to be speechless.
“Nothing seems to phase me about this team. Our guys have unbelievable belief in one another. I guess we will just have to wait to see what people have to say about us now.”
They’re saying plenty. Between knowing winks and eye-rolling drinks. The mass-deleting Saturday evening threatened to break Twitter faster than Elon Musk.
Not even the whistle-happy delinquency of third-year referee Tra Blake’s crew could derail the Vikings. Carping about officiating is a tired cliché, but even I can’t apologize for the dereliction that cost Minnesota 12 points in scoops and scores.
NFL means Not For Long for Blake et al.
Look, there is no way to quantify what the Vikings are doing and how they are doing it. Their soaring confidence is a suit of armor that lets them dismiss the butt-whippings alpha males Philadelphia and Dallas delivered earlier this season.
You can convince any jury that the Vikings are guilty of impersonating a great team.
That a rematch against the Eagles or Cowboys in January would be disastrous based on their porous defense and untimely catatonic offense. Or a date with the defensively dominant 49ers. Or the surging Lions.
But you cannot dismiss the scar tissue and inner strength that have allowed the Vikings to overcome so much adversity so many times.
Maybe those fully stocked teams are salivating at the chance to burst Minnesota’s bubble. Or maybe the bare-knuckled Vikings have planted seeds of doubt about bringing a loaded gun to an emotional knife fight, especially if that back alley is US Bank Stadium.
The Vikings are a live power line arcing in a tornado. Go ahead and grab it.
If you dare.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.