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Does It Get Any Worse Than This?

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Could we be watching the worst Vikings team ever? Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images.
Could we be watching the worst Vikings team ever? Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images.

I just hope someone brought the aerosol spray and disinfectant for this one. MetLife Stadium’s going to need a thorough scrubbing.

The wire service accounts say that the Giants won Monday night’s game against the Vikings, but those with a strong stomach and masochistic tendencies that sat through that whole game would have to say the Vikings lost it. The Giants weren’t very good, but they finally can say that they screwed up fewer times than their opponent.

First let’s spread a tiny ladling of praise. It won’t take long. Both defenses played well, especially the Giants. The pass rush that had been MIA showed up, they tackled, they made plays, they covered. The Vikings defense tackled well, rushed a little and covered a little — a huge improvement from poor tackling, a poor rush and terrible coverage. Baby steps.

The Vikings’ performance had to make everyone scurry for their dictionaries and thesauruses. In Minneapolis, the word was “putrid.” The New York Post called the Vikings “awful.” True enough. But then what do you call Josh Freeman’s passing?

He was so inaccurate that it was funny. Maybe he has a future as a straight man, because he sure didn’t look like a quarterback.

“A lot of the plays were just a hair off,” Freeman said to the AP reporter assigned to cover this (who must’ve really messed up to be assigned to this stink bomb).

Ha! Good one, Josh. Some of his throws were, oh, 10 to 15 feet over the receiver’s head. He overthrew receivers 16 times. Well, if you’re going to be bad, might as well be Ryan Leaf bad.

The staggering ineptitude of this game brings to mind some of the hoary chestnuts of former Buccaneers coach John McKay.

 “What do you think about your team’s execution?” “I’m in favor of it.”

“Well, we didn’t block, but we made up for that by not tackling.”

Or basketball’s Bill Fitch: “We’re small but we’re slow.”

The offensive players wearing the horned helmets scored nary a point against a winless team. Instead, Marcus Sherels ran a punt back 86 yards for a touchdown. There were two penalties on the play, both against New York. It was that kind of night.

It’s not that the Giants weren’t generous. Eli Manning tried to screw up, but the Vikings didn’t bite. Andrew Sendejo and Sherels dropped sure interceptions — Sherels might’ve had a pick-six. Manning missed a wide-open Hakeem Nicks early, and receivers dropped several passes. The Giants offense, short of running backs, used Peyton Hillis, who was hired off the street and showed grit if not talent. He fumbled once but recovered it, and scored a touchdown.

Sherels proved what he was really about on the next play after the drop when he fielded a punt. He stumbled and then fumbled without even being touched. Talk about a gift. And the Giants, to their credit, accepted it, which is more than the Vikings can say.

Some of the mistakes were amusing, at least if you didn’t care about the result. One of the Vikings’ three first-round draft picks had his first big play of the season against the Giants. Sharrif Floyd, much-lauded defensive tackle out of Florida, fumbled the ball when he ran back a kickoff. Nice going.

Freeman is the fourth quarterback the Vikings have used in the past seven games, going back to the playoff game last season against the Packers – which seems more and more like an aberration in the distant past, as far away as hula hoops and Elvis.

Christian Ponder wasn’t terrible, wasn’t good. Matt Cassel, filling in for the injured Ponder, had one good game, one bad one. Inconsistent quarterbacking. Can’t get any worse, right?

Don’t ever say that. Those who have experienced life’s vicissitudes know that it can always get worse, and you’re tempting the fates to say otherwise. And to be inconsistent is, after all, better than being terrible.

Which brings me to Freeman. You could certainly fault the coaches for rushing him into the lineup, but he was so inaccurate you have to wonder. He was like one of the scab-player teams drafted in beer leagues back in 1987.

What the hell is going on in Minneapolis? And what’s next?

You could do worse than hiring 86-year-old Bud Grant, who looked great and had some good ideas in an interview with Peter King. He coached in 1985 after a previous Vikings meltdown, the Les Steckel (3-13) era. And while you’re at it, why not get Fran Tarkenton as quarterback and Alan Page to rush the quarterback.

OK, I’m not serious. But the Vikings better be thinking out of the box.

This year’s team might be the worst of all time in Minnesota. Looking at the schedule, it’s hard to see anyone they could beat. Without drastic improvement, they should lose every game. The schedule gets tougher. They haven’t faced Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, RGIII or Russell Wilson yet. Seattle might beat this team 56-0. We’re talking historically bad.

Those waiting for Leslie Frazier to show emotions will be disappointed. He’s as stoic as Grant was. Too bad he’s not as good a coach.

“His (Josh Freeman’s) performance was up and down,” Frazier said. Oh, I get it, up, as in 15 feet high. Good one, coach.

It’s hard to see Frazier lasting beyond the season. In fact, he might be gone soon, along with his clueless assistants, Alan Williams (defense) and Bill Musgrave (offense). You have to wonder about general manager Rick Spielman, too. He surely had a hand in the quarterback mess. Someone has to be accountable. Don’t they?

A Star Tribune columnist compared Freeman to the legendary Spergon Wynn, who was the Vikings’ third-string quarterback who played after injuries to Daunte Culpepper and Todd Bouman in 2001. His gaudy stats include one touchdown, seven interceptions and a 39.5 passer rating. (But who can forget his time with the Amsterdam Admirals?)

As for the Giants, they won’t face a team this bad again. Yes, as ESPN pointed out, the team has had a streak of four or more wins in each of the past seven seasons, but they’ll have to play better than they did Monday night. Their defense was great, but otherwise, they just accepted the Vikings mistakes and converted them into points. Their punt and kickoff coverage was poor. And they won’t face a quarterback this pathetic again.

The Giants were ripe for a loss. The Vikings were even riper — holding-your-nose ripe.