Big games are on the line in New York for two Minnesota sports teams.
Technically New Jersey, for the Vikings, who will play the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. On Friday and Saturday, the Twins will start their playoff push at Yankee Stadium.
Michael Rand of the Star Tribune delved into both situations and said that while the MLB matchup can be categorized as "more important" considering the postseason implications, the Vikings Week 5 game holds plenty of weight. Rand wrote:
The Vikings face a more interesting test — less urgent in the big-picture, but perhaps more urgent than the amount of schedule in front of them might indicate.
They're 2-2, coming off another disappointing loss to the Bears in which the offense failed to do much of anything until very late.
The Giants are likewise 2-2 and have a poor pass defense. This is a game on paper the Vikings should win. They're 5.5-point betting favorites on the road. FiveThirtyEight uses a different formula and has the Vikings with a 2.5-point edge. Combine that with basically toss-up games (per FiveThirtyEight and the eye test), the next two weeks against Philadelphia (home) and Detroit (road), and this game against the Giants becomes extra important.
A Vikings win in which [quarterback Kirk] Cousins plays well would beat back the skeptics, at least temporarily, and serve as a reminder that the NFL season is quite long even at 16 games.
Reminiscing Tommy Kramer's Texas football journey
Vikings Legend Tommy Kramer is a familiar face around the Twin Cities, despite calling San Antonio, Texas, his home base.
The quarterback who ranks second all-time in Vikings history in passing yards, touchdowns and completions regularly spends time with former teammates and makes appearances at charity events and autograph signings for fans. Recently, Kramer was highlighted by USA TODAY through an article reminiscing his football journey that began in Texas.
Mike Lee wrote:
Kramer — who passed San Antonio Lee to a state championship in 1971 and earned All-American honors at Rice before a 14-year NFL career — played during an era when Texas was known for producing pro running backs. Players like Earl Campbell from Tyler, Billy Sims from Hooks, Eric Dickerson from Sealy, Joe Washington of Port Arthur, Roosevelt Leaks of Brenham and Lawrence McCutcheon of Plainview dominated headlines and stat sheets.
"At the time he played, football in Texas was all about running the wishbone and the veer," said longtime San Antonio sportswriter Tom Orsborn. "Lee had a head coach at the time named John Ferrera, and he was ahead of his time with throwing the ball. Tommy Kramer's skill set fit what Ferrera wanted to do.
"They were doing stuff that was unheard of at that time."
Lee called Ferrera "an unlikely pioneer for the passing game" who helped jump-start Kramer's career on the gridiron.
Kramer initially played safety when he started the 1971 season with San Antonio Lee, but he didn't last long at the position. Two quarters, to be exact.
According to Lee, Kramer was moved to starting quarterback during halftime "of a water-logged season opener" against Alamo Heights. He went on to throw the touchdown pass that tied the game and then kicked the game-winning PAT.
Kramer led Lee to tight playoff wins over Austin Reagan 19-14, Houston Milby 19-16 and Wichita Falls High 28-27 in the state championship game — the first high school game played in Texas Stadium, the new home of the Dallas Cowboys in 1971.
Trailing Wichita Falls 27-21 with 2:55 to play, Kramer completed passes of 35 and 29 yards to Osborne to tie the score at 27-27. Then, as he had in the season opener, Kramer kicked the winning extra point.
"It seemed like we always came back and won," Kramer told Lee. "That season was when I got the nickname 'Two-Minute Tommy.' That name stuck with me all the way through the NFL."