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How to Win

Details That Doom

Just as in Canada’s Grey Cup, a too-many-men penalty made all the difference in yesterday’s Vikings-Saints game.

Everyone associated with the Vikings — players, coaches and fans — will long remember a detail that cost the team a chance to go to the Super Bowl.

“Just the slightest bit of miscommunication,” left guard Steve Hutchinson said on Access Vikings, a Minneapolis StarTribune blog.

Just the slightest bit.

With the Vikings driving toward what shaped up as a game-winning field goal, they huddled for a third-down play. Trouble is, too many of them huddled — 12 instead of 11. That’s illegal. The penalty pushed Minnesota out of field goal range and when quarterback Bret Favre tried a pass on the next play, New Orleans intercepted.

So once again, just as in the Saskatchewan-Montreal Grey Cup game, in which a too-many-men penalty cost Saskatchewan the title, no detail is too small. It wasn’t a complicated pass route that made the difference. Or an intricate defensive scheme. It was the difference between 12 and 11 players.

Where does that leave coaches? Is it possible to anticipate every situation? No. But it’s completely possible to set high standards, and then to keep to them.

“Success is a personal standard,” says Zig Ziglar.

Sivananda says, “A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.”

Right now the consequence of 12 men instead of 11 is the difference between a trip to the Super Bowl and going home.


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