NFL: Minnesota Vikings
If I had told you before the Vikings kicked-off the season that Kirk Cousins would pass for less than 100 yards in the opener against Atlanta, you would have probably guessed that the Vikings would lose, and I wouldn’t have blamed you.
Against the Falcons, Cousins was just eight of ten passing for 98-yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. The difference of course was the Vikings ability to run the ball. With both Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison running effectively, the Vikings only had to pass occasionally.
The best part? The Vikings didn’t target tight ends Kyle Rudolph or rookie Irv Smith Jr. and rarely used play-action. Where am I going with this? The Vikings won this game without showing all their cards, acutely aware that a road game against arch-rival Green Bay is next.
I’m not ready to start printing Super Bowl tickets, but even the most pessimistic Vikings fan has to be encouraged by how the Vikings took apart the Falcons, a team that was rated #9 in ESPN’s pre-season power rankings. Things are certain to be more difficult next Sunday in Green Bay, but the Vikings showed they are an improved football team, offensively speaking, without tipping their hand.
College sports: Gopher football
Almost every pundit predicted that the Gopher football team would win all three of its non-conference games this season, but it’s hard to believe that the team is 2-0 rather than 0-2.
Following their escape of South Dakota State in the season opener, the Gophers needed two overtimes and another big play from senior safety Antione Winfield Jr. to overcome Fresno State.
On the night, the Gophers lost three fumbles, and three of their seven penalties directly resulted in 17 points for the Bulldogs. Still, a last-minute touchdown pass from Tanner Morgan to Chris Autman-Bell on 4th and 13th, sent the game into overtime. Then, for a second year in-a-row, Winfield secured the win with a late game interception, sealing a 38-35, double OT win.
This team still has a lot of room for improvement, but the fact that it’s finding ways to win rather than ways to lose already shows that in year three P.J. Fleck’s program HAS turned the corner. Stay tuned…
MLB: Minnesota Twins
Saturday’s announcement that Twins pitcher Michael Pineda has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 60 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy is just the latest reminder that this is Minnesota, and we’re just not supposed to have nice things.
Pineda was suspended for taking a diuretic that’s been used to mask the presence of illegal drugs, but Pineda claims he took it unknowingly while trying to control his weight.
In the final year of a two-year, 10 million dollar contract, we may have seen the last of Michael Pineda in a Twins uniform. If losing Pineda doesn’t keep the Twins from reaching the post-season, it does severely limit their options in a short series, especially considering that he’s been the team’s most reliable starter since the All-Star break.
Whatever decision the front office makes regarding Pineda in the off-season, his suspension is a cruel gut-punch for a team that has over-achieved in so many areas just to get where they are and puts a dark cloud over an otherwise remarkable season of baseball.
Women's hockey: Krissy Wendell
Krissy Wendell Pohl, one of the most decorated players in Minnesota hockey history, will be one of five inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame this year.
A high school and two-time NCAA Champion, Olympic silver and bronze medalist and captain of a World Championship team, Wendell won the Patty Kazmeier Award as college hockey’s best player in 2005.
People tend to forget, but Wendell also made history as the first girl to start at catcher in the Little League World Series when she played with Brooklyn Park back in 1994.
Upon induction, Wendell will once again be reunited with friend and former teammate Natalie Darwitz who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame a year ago.
It’s amazing to think that these two women who are arguably the best players this state ever produced and among the best to ever wear the red, white and blue, came up at the same time, played at the same college (University of Minnesota) and on the same line.
Only time will tell if we’ll ever see a more talented duo, but we can always hope. Congratulations Krissy, it was a thrill to watch you play, and this latest honor, like all those that came before it is well deserved.