MINNEAPOLIS The boobirds started early.
It was barely three minutes into the Thursday Night Football game at the Mall of America Field, and the Minnesota Vikings the 5-2 Vikings, nipping at the heels of the Chicago Bears in the NFC North, getting plenty of votes as the NFL's biggest 2012 surprise were already stinking it up. Their offense had a quick three-and-out to start the game, then got the ball back after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their own three-and-out.
On second-and-five approaching midfield, Christian Ponder took the snap and looked to his left. He saw wide receiver Jerome Simpson, and maybe a bit of daylight. Ponder took his shot, lofting a throw deep down the sideline and at that exact moment, Simpson spun on a dime and turned for the short, quick throw that never came.
For a moment, it was a bit stunning, the boos raining down on the home team so early in the game. What did these Vikings fans want from a team that went 3-13 last year, a team with an unprov...