So…I read a few articles last week, talking about how the Cardinals (St. Louis, Pheonix, or Arizona) haven’t beaten the Vikings in Minnesota since 1977. Even with that team obviously struggling with their rookie QB and other issues, that kind of setup is very Hollywood…and it reeked of another “trap game”, especially with the always-dangerous Fitzgerald catching passes for them.
Yeah, well, that record remains intact after 41 years…and the team continues to start looking like “itself”.
Let’s talk Purple, People…!
I know I’m kind of an odd dude, but last Sunday’s win seemed kinda…right…to me. No, it wasn’t the “win by 12 scores” kind of obliteration I’d love to see from the team every game, and it wasn’t the “make every opponent on offense terrified to touch the ball” effort that I also admittedly enjoy…but it was solid overall, even with some rough moments. To me, that’s a complete and realistic football game, one where things go both right and wrong but the Vikings seem in control for most of it.
That said, I’m all for skunking every remaining opponent by at least 63-0, and not allowing a them a single first down through the Super Bowl.
On with the over-analysis!
QB- Well, Kirk finally did it: he tossed the inevitable dumbass, off-balance, try-to-un-bust-a-bad-play pass that got picked and returned for a TD. I was angry, frustrated, despondent, and snarling at the time…but that lasted less than a minute. The truth is, he’s thrown “gambling” passes all season, but they’ve been that little bit safer than the typical “prayer” balls thrown by QBs all over the league, so him finally giving into human nature and trying something stupid wasn’t a big deal to me. If it becomes a habit, well…yeah, I’ll be calling for his head…but his typical passes catch our receivers and backs in stride, over the safer shoulder, etc. So, Kirk had a 24/34, 233, 1 and 1 game., plus another fumble when his protection (inevitably) failed Given how many of our recent QBs had semi-regular performances under 200 yards per game, I think this is one that’s easily forgivable.
RBs/FB- Damn, folks…Murray wants a bigger contract next season! 24 rushes, 155 yards, and a TD…those numbers sound like the kind of results we counted on from ol’ number 28 for many years. We got some lanes opened, and both Murray and Boone (1 run for 20 yards?!?!) got some good production out of it. The offense might be getting its other dimension on track just in time for Cook to reappear…!
WRs/TEs- The moral of Saturday’s game: if you sell out to cover Diggs, Thielen is gonna put up 3 digits and a score on you. While Diggs hauled in 3 for 33 yards (including one great sideline grab), Thielen dominated his coverage again with 11 grabs, 123 yards, and a score that looked like stealing. One very interesting note: Treadwell added 4 catches for 38 yards…on 4 targets. Cousins’ faith in Laquon seems to be paying dividends, in that he’s becoming reliable when options 1 and 2 are blanketed. Rudolph added another 4 grabs for 37 yards and one first down where he was damned hard to tackle. Even when our QB has a “bad” game, this bunch puts in the numbers.
O-Line- Double Secret Probation remains in place. 4 Sacks on Cousins is 5 too many, but you opened some running lanes. Our new rookie OT seems like an increasingly good addition, happily.
D-Line/LBs- I wonder if we could get Def Leppard to modify one of their old songs into “Danielle the Hunter”? At the same time, I wonder if Joe Elliott will ever have enough voice left to sing that high again. Anyway, 2 more sacks, and he’s in very rare air in terms of production per game and is raising hell with the opposing OTs that thought the lack of Griffen would mean easy times for them. This bunch was solid overall, with Barr getting a strip sack and Rosen having to dance around for his life.
CBs/Safeties- Welcome, George Iloka, to the “is he better than Sandejo?” debate that’s sure to rage on! He tied Rhodes for the most tackles, and didn’t cause any penalties that I saw…which is, arguably, an improvement. From the “OMFG, IT’S A MIRACLE” department came both a pass defense and a sack from Mackensie Alexander, which went nicely with the sack from Smith. Narris added an interception, and…well, this bunch looked like the Zimmer secondary for most of the game.
Special Teams- Dan Bailey made both field goals, Sherels was back and got a couple decent returns, Wile had a good day punting, and the kick coverage seemed solid, so this bunch is off the s*** list for a wekk.
Coaching- It looks like most phases of the game were exactly what the Z-man likes: tough D, grinding O, solid ST, and clock control. I’m with some other fans that believe we could and should be putting up more points, but it’s hard to argue with a “W”.
Officiating- I didn’t see any major goofs by the zebras in any direction, so…less heard, less said, all good.
Conclusion- The Buffalo game has me understandably more than typically nervous when we have a huge point spread vs. an opposing team, but this one felt like the Vikings had it controlled most of the way through. I’m hoping that we continue to make the first drives in games similarly important: score on ours, stop theirs early. This team has proven that it CAN play from behind, but it’s much happier tightening the noose with an early lead. The Jets are going to be a different kind of challenge with yet another rookie QB, so I hope Zimmer and Edwards dial up some very confusing D to throw them off…and “Flip” finds ways to keep our QB upright and productive.