Even though the Minnesota Vikings were playing from behind the entire game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night, there was a brief moment late in the third quarter where fans started to believe they might have a chance.
It happened with about three minutes to go, when offensive tackle Donald Penn kept coming at defensive end Jared Allen well after the play was over on second down. Penn kept blocking and shoving Allen down, even when Allen was clearly beat. The culmination came when Penn went as far as to push Allen’s helmet clean off his head.
This did not sit well with Allen and he retaliated with some good shoving of his own, and by grabbing Penn’s facemask to subdue him. The refs at this point got in the middle of everything, and that’s when Allen realized he’d been busted open. Blood started to run from the bridge of his nose, and he had a look on his face like ‘no you didn’t.’
What happened next was just classic, and it’s the epitome of why I love sports. Allen and Penn were in each others faces and still going back and forth for what seemed like 2-3 minutes. The crowd started to rumble as Allen enthusiastically waved them on. The Bucs then had to call a timeout to get everything straight before the next play.
By the time they were finally ready for the third and ten play, the crowd was absolutely deafening. Then fittingly, Allen beat Penn and sacked quarterback Josh Freeman. The crowd went absolutely ballistic, and the momentum and had firmly shifted back to Minnesota down only 13 points.
Unfortunately, Allen’s efforts went unrewarded as the Vikings went three and out on the next drive, and were unable to mount a comeback.
Even though the Vikings played poorly on both sides of the ball Thursday night, fans should be encouraged that the team nearly fought their way back. Yes, they came up well short in the end, but if the offense was able to capitalize on the momentum provided by Allen on that next drive, the entire complexion of the game would have changed.
It wasn’t meant to be in this one, but fans have to love the never give up attitude of team leader Allen.