The Skol Debate: Was the Bills Comeback Better than the Colts Comeback?
Frankly, it’s astonishing that we can even have a genuine debate about this topic. In any normal season, the Bills comeback would be the clear-cut top game of the year. The 2022 season hasn’t been a regular year, though.
The recent Colts comeback – which, as you may have heard, did something notable for NFL history – was stunning, confounding, and altogether magnificent. Many Vikings fans have probably been reflecting on both games, asking, “Which one was better?”
Thankfully, the debaters are back to make their case. Check out their positions:
The Purple Corner: Josh Frey (Give me history and the Colts)
The Gold Corner: K. Joudry (Forget history, Bills all the way)
With the housekeeping out of the way, let’s hop into the debate. Onward toward truth (or, at the very least, a somewhat persuasive opinion)!
The Bills Comeback or The Colts Comback?
KJ: As I admitted on Sunday morning, I thought the game was over. Perhaps it was merely the purple pessimism in me – an affliction that comes from years of dramatic meltdowns and ever-so-painful narrow misses – that led me to believe it was just one of those games.
Alas, I was wrong, and I’m thrilled to admit it.
The Vikings overcame the Colts after being down 33-0 at halftime. By this point, we’ve seen that phrase tossed around plenty of times. What we’re more concerned about in this debate is whether it was the best game of the Vikings’ season.
Frankly, it’s insane that we can even ask this question with a straight face, but here we are. Wild season that is getting even more wild after every game.
Josh, where do you find yourself on this one? Is this the best game of the year? Give us your stance and your initial argument.
JF: At halftime of this game, and honestly up until they completed their comeback, I found myself looking at this Vikings team and wondering a few things about their playoff potential.
These thoughts weren’t about how many games they would win or whether or not they were Super Bowl contenders. Instead, I found myself wondering if a complete and utter collapse was happening before our very eyes, and the Vikings were about to blow the whole kit and kaboodle and lose their NFC North lead.
Then, over the course of a couple hours, those fears vanished as the Vikings completed the most improbable comeback in NFL history, clinched the NFC North, and walked into Christmas weekend as one of six teams to have already secured their spot in the playoff bracket.
Because of the wild swing of emotions, in a year of wild comebacks and last-minute heroics from this Vikings team, I do think that this Week 15 win is the best game of the year. Are you with me on that, or do you still think another game, like the Bills win, was superior?
KJ: The most recent Notes from the North episode (where I had several Josh Frey shout outs!) featured me arguing that the Bills game was the superior game. I’m sticking by that claim, and I’ve got three reasons why:
1) The Quality of the Opponent
2) The Back and Forth Thriller
3) The Road Factor
Few would disagree that the Bills are among the NFL’s preeminent teams. Currently, they hold the top spot in the AFC. They only have 3 losses in 2022 and the Vikings are responsible for one of them. Overcoming 17 points is well short of overcoming 33 points and yet it came against a truly elite team, one that may finally climb Mount Lombardi when it’s all said and done.
The Colts, in contrast, are looking at a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft.
Moreover, I’ll say that the viewing experience was much more enjoyable in the Bills game. The Indy game featured a huge ascent and then massive descent for Jeff Saturday’s squad. In some ways, the same occurred in the Buffalo game, but it was much more of a back-and-forth game. Once things started breaking in Minnesota’s favor, it became reasonably clear that Indy didn’t have much fight left in them. Buffalo, in contrast, kept throwing haymakers.
Finally, I’ll merely point out that Minnesota’s Week 10 comeback occurred on the road. The Bills Mafia has a reputation. They’re a snowball-throwing, table-breaking bunch who passionately support their squad. Silencing them is no small feat, especially in overtime.
Can the Colts game top that, Josh?
JF: Here’s the way I see it. I’ll certainly concede that I think the Bills game peaked higher than the Colts game, if that makes sense. It’s going to be hard to top the absolute chaos that was the final couple minutes of the 4th quarter and overtime of that game.
That being said, I didn’t get anywhere near the sense of doom-and-gloom in that game that I felt during the Colts game. As the Vikings fell behind the Buffalo Bills, a Super Bowl favorite as you point out, on the road, well, it didn’t feel extremely unexpected, and my opinion of this version of the Vikings changed very little.
On the other hand, as I mentioned, every thought of negativity went through my mind during that Colts game. There’s still some lingering doubt in the aftermath of that game because of the first half, but it was such a euphoric feeling to see them complete that comeback after being so down in the dumps earlier in the game.
It’s certainly the less impressive of the two wins considering the quality of the opponent and the environment, but because of how low the lows got, and how equally high the highs got against the Colts, I think that’s what makes this the better victory for me.
Perhaps that makes it too subjective for a true debate, but that’s where I find myself in the aftermath of this win. Did your view of these Vikings end up changing at all as the Colts comeback occurred?
KJ: Yeah, I think it did, to a certain extent.
The change in my opinion relates to what Joe Oberle articulated earlier in the week on PurplePTSD: the team often talks about believing in themselves no matter what, but my purple pessimism can lead to me dismissing those clichés. The comeback, though, helped me to come around to the notion. Patrick Peterson genuinely believes in this squad; maybe I should, too.
Maybe I’ll lean on your perspective in another manner, though, to see if we can get to some common ground.
Both games dealt with some unexpectedness: the Vikings weren’t expected to overcome the Bills on the road (especially after being down by 17) and the Vikings weren’t expected to be down by 33 to the Colts (especially since it was at U.S. Bank Stadium). The fact that MN still found a way to go 2-0 in these games inspires some confidence that maybe this team really is special.
In your opinion, which triumph inspires more confidence in Minnesota? Is there a win that does a better job of helping to prove the Vikings are legit contenders?
JF: I think the Bills game certainly qualifies more as proof that the Vikings can be contenders when the playoffs arrive. As we’ve discussed, they are a premier Super Bowl contender, so Minnesota’s ability to come back against them, as lucky as some people may try to call it, is extremely impressive.
After all, in order for the Vikings to come back from down 33 points, they had to initially fall behind the Colts by 33 points. That half of football still happened, and if they weren’t playing against a team quarterbacked by an aging Matt Ryan, without star RB Jonathan Taylor, and coached by Jeff Saturday, that comeback likely wouldn’t have been possible.
All that being said, for me personally, I’ve gone about the idea of a “better” comeback by thinking about the emotions felt with each game and the overall storylines. Taking into account that the Colts game was the 1000th game in Vikings history, and it clinched them the NFC North, makes that win even more special in my eyes.
Regardless, though, the fact that we got both games in the span of about a month and a half makes this an extremely special season for the Vikings.
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