Late in the second half against the Cowboys today, just past the two-minute warning, the Minnesota Vikings held a commanding 27-3 lead. It was 4th down and 3 at the Dallas 11 yard line.
The Vikes went for it. Brett Favre tossed a touchdown pass to Visanthe Shiancoe, sealing Minnesota's 34-3 victory.
Immediately, Fox play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck brought up the issue of running up the score. He was right.
* the game's decision was not in doubt
* the Vikings' play call was not a running play, it was a pass that went to the end zone
The central argument for the Vikings' decision to throw for the end zone was voiced by both Fox color commentator Troy Aikman and Fox studio analyst Jimmy Johnson. It is the defense's job to stop the offense, argued Aikman and Johnson. If you don't want the opponent to run up the score, don't let them score. Aikman, it seemed, was decidedly put off by the reaction of veteran Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking, who went angrily to the Minnesota sideline to voice his own thoughts on the Shiancoe touchdown pass.
The argument against the Vikings' decision was voiced by Fox studio analyst Terry Bradshaw: Have respect for your opponent. Said linebacker Brooking afterward, "I thought it was classless."
The opinions were not mutually exclusive. In fact, all of them were right. The Vikings have every right to score whenever they'd like.
And they're most definitely classless.