The Return Home

A recap of the Minnesota Vikings home opener game

Austin Lentz, Contributor

Nature is healing, and with that so does the tom-foolery and drunkenness of fans. I attended the first 2021-2022 Minnesota Vikings home game at US Bank Stadium, and it surprisingly ended with a win for your hometown professional football team, who have been off to an 0-2 start. The last full capacity NFL game in Minnesota prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was 636 days ago on December 29th 2019. That game ended in defeat, in a disappointing 21-19 loss to the Chicago Bears, eradicating the Vikings chances to make the playoffs.

Last Sunday’s game looked much different.

There were even a few changes for fans. The introduction of paperless tickets allowed for a smooth entry as fans simply scanned their tickets from their phones, eliminating the need for any contact with the gate crew. Another change was for the pyrotechnics. Fans expect fire and smoke to be roaring out of the cannons as the players make their introductions, sprinting out onto the field to meet their teammates. However; the NFL’s rule changes to on-field pyrotechnics changed the atmosphere and feel. After 2019’s Tennessee Titans pyrotechnics malfunction ended with a fire on the field, the fire cannons were instead replaced with snow cannons, furthermore buying into Minnesota’s harsh winters. 

These changes in rules added a much different look and feel to the game that I was not expecting. After “ODIN” was repeatedly chanted and played on the jumbotron, a cool breeze flooded through the stands, snow began to fall from the rafters, gently falling towards the players on field. The infamous SKOL chant and the sound of the gjallarhorn blown by former Minnesota Vikings guard and Pro Football Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel set the tone for a lively atmosphere. With roughly 67,000 fans on their feet in attendance, US Bank stadium was the loudest it had been in 2 years. Fans of the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings clashed for 3 hours in the stands supporting their respective sides. Cheering for every tackle and booing any call they opposed. The home fans let Coach Mike Zimmer hear it after they were not pleased with the choice to kick a field goal deep in Seahawks territory in the third quarter.

 This was the first Vikings game I had attended since their days at TCF Bank stadium, former home to the Minnesota Golden Gophers Football team, that has since been renamed to Huntington Bank Stadium for the 2021-2022 season. The game got off to a quick start with both teams scoring on their opening drives. Russel Wilson threw a touchdown on a cheeky out-route to his 6’ 4”, 229 lb wide receiver DK Metcalf and the Vikings immediately responded with Kirk Cousins finding Tight End Tyler Conklin for his first touchdown of the season.

The Seahawks closed out their second drive and the first quarter with a field goal by Jason Myers. The Vikings’ failed attempt to complete a 3rd and 7 from their 28 yard-line gave the Seahawks another chance to extend their lead, with a drive that resulted in a Chris Carson rushing Touchdown bringing the score to 17-7. The game felt as though the Seahawks would run the Vikings out quickly, letting down everyone wearing purple in US Bank stadium. The feeling in the stadium was one of fear and angst as the hometown team was down early. A crucial defensive-holding on the Seahawks added some juice to the Vikings offense who would finish the drive with Kirk Cousins connecting to a darting Adam Thielen in the endzone with 5:28 seconds remaining in the first half. 

With the return of fans so do the antics. A rogue Vikings fan ran onto the field, with cheers and laughs from all over the stadium the fan was able to make several US Bank security personnel miss as he attempted to pump up the crowd. The fan made the 100 yard trek across the field, but was caught trying to “griddy” (Justin Jefferson’s famous dance) into the end zone with a bone-crushing hit by security staff. As the camera in the stadium panned to Vikings players on the sideline laughing at the attempted “griddy”, all felt right.

This fan may have single handedly changed the entire outcome of the game. After the brief intermission the Seahawks charged down the field for a field goal. With all 67,000 re-energized, Jason Myers pulled his 44 yard field goal attempt to the wide-left, opening the door for the Vikings offense to capitalize. The Vikings prolific passing offense allowed them to get down the field efficiently, and scored with a shifty Justin Jefferson able to get open in the endzone closing out the half 21-17 Vikings. 

The Vikings never slowed down, closing out the Seahawks 30-17 in an emphatic win. The return of fans was enough to energize the Vikings enough leaving everyone in the stadium wearing purple with a smile on their face. Hopefully, they can continue this form and bring home a Super Bowl. Maybe?

The Vikings never slowed down, closing out the Seahawks 30-17 in an emphatic win