Previous iterations of the Vikings would have probably lost that game.
But these Vikings...these 2017 Vikings that have now rattled off seven straight wins and counting...they found a way.
They found a way even though they were on the road on a short week.
They found a way even though their secondary wasn’t at the top of their game.
They found a way even though the officiating was—how do I say this politely?—complete and utter trash for most of the game.
They found a way even though the Detroit Lions had previously had their number for most of the duration of Mike Zimmer’s regime.
The Vikings now have a 9-2 record and a three-game lead in the NFC North with five games to play. It’s official—this team is a legit contender to make a deep playoff run. And the run they’re currently on is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.
You might say the Vikings are almost too legit. And they definitely won’t quit.
Yep, you know where I’m going with this week’s Stock Market Report song. HIT IT, HAMMER!
Step to the rhythm of a
Sho-nuff winner (winner)
I beenHere before (yo!) I ain't no
Beginner (word) but I been new
Tried and true survival of the fittest
Yo!..it brought me through
My crew (talk) we're ready to
Strike trained for the mission
So believe the hype and sweat it
Cause you're gonna
Regret it the day that you dissed us
You'll wish you never met us
You remind me of a real short
Story one hit record and you
Star to bore me get ready
Cause this is it your crew is
Through and we too legit to quit...sang!...
Too legit to quit (Hey...hey...)
Too legit, too legit to quit...
Your “we run the North” Stock Market Report begins...now.
Blue Chip Stocks
Case Keenum, QB: Ho-hum. Just another day in the office for Case. He went 21/30 for 282 yards, two touchdowns, and zero turnovers. He also ran for a couple crucial first downs and perfectly executed a read option for a touchdown run. When this streak first started, it could have been argued that the Vikings were winning with defense while masking some of Keenum’s shortcomings. Now it seems like Keenum doesn’t really have many shortcomings. It’s time to start considering that Keenum might not be playing out of his mind, but simply realizing his full potential.
In my preview article for this game I said I was still a bit wary of how far this team could go in the playoffs with Keenum at the helm. But if he keeps playing like he did today, why couldn’t the Vikings take this as far as they can dream?
Adam Thielen, WR: Ho-hum. Just another eight receptions for 89 yards. Thielen makes Keenum’s job so much easier by getting wide open several times per game. I am amazed at how Thielen’s precise route running and flypaper hands consistently move the sticks for this offense. Thielen became the team’s first 1,000 yard receiver in eight seasons and we still have five games left.
Everson Griffen, DE: I know I’m just filling in for Ted on this week, but we have a steadfast rule here at the SMR: whenever you have a baby boy and get two sacks on the same day, that makes you a blue chipper. Sack Daddy, indeed!
Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs has been pretty quiet since injuring his groin against Chicago in Week 5, save for the game against the Redskins. Today he hauled in five catches for 66 yards and appeared to be much closer to 100% physically. Thielen has established himself as the WR1 on this team in recent weeks, but Diggs’ continued contributions to the offense are crucial in preventing defenses from keying in only on Thielen.
Latavius Murray, RB: The Vikings have had some favorable matchups against the run recently, and the Tay Train has taken full advantage. Murray had 84 yards on 20 carries and found the end zone for the third time in the past two games. And for the second week in a row, he treated us to a hilariously slow run of over 40 yards. He and Jerick McKinnon are doing the thunder and lightning thing beautifully.
Jarius Wright, WR: To paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time, Boondock Saints: Jarius Wright is like 7-Eleven. He’s not always doing business, but he’s always open. Wright’s stat line was pretty tame—two catches for 25 yards—but every catch he makes seems to be a for either a touchdown or a crucial conversion. In a season where Laquon Treadwell has continued to be mostly invisible to both the quarterbacks and the box score, Wright simply performs every time he’s called upon.
Nick Easton, G: This wasn’t the greatest performance by the offensive line, but Easton deserves special recognition. He got out and delivered crucial blocks on two screen passes that gained big yardage.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudy found the end zone twice on Thursday and added a crucial 34-yard reception that set up his score before the break. He even had a couple decent run blocks on the opening drive of the second half. He remains a vital part of an offense that has been putting up a lot of points lately. He also made me deeply regret starting Evan Engram over him in fantasy football this week.
Special teams: It’s easy to pick on Kai Forbath for not converting another field goal and extra point, but the kicking woes were truly a team effort today. Ryan Quigley bobbled the hold on the blocked field goal and the blocking was pretty poor on the extra point. Even though Lions returner Jamal Agnew was out, Detroit was able to get great field position a few times due to big returns. The Vikings also had a decent return from Marcus Sherels negated by a penalty. Film review for Mike Prefier will not be pleasant for this game.
The secondary: The Lions have a potent passing attack, so nobody expected a complete shutdown performance today. But seeing the Detroit pass catchers so open so often today was pretty alarming. Xavier Rhodes came up with the game-clinching interception, but until then he was having what was easily his worst game of the season. Harrison Smith got beat a few times. Kenny Golladay allowed Trae Waynes to continue his tradition of watching great catches happen right in front of him because he was in position but couldn’t locate the ball. Andrew Sendejo continued his tradition of not even attempting to use his arms when tackling.
The referees: Holy hell they were awful today. I hate being “that guy” that blames the refs, but the performance of Tony Corrente and his crew today was a special kind of terrible. They were the biggest contributor of Detroit’s score right before halftime and consistently kept Lions drives alive with iffy calls.
And will someone tell me how on God’s green Earth that this was not pass interference?
I’m still furious about that one. Again, I usually think complaining about the referees is petty and overblown, but this performance deserved every ounce of pettiness.
Buy: Pat Shurmur’s play calling in the first two-plus quarters. The Vikings Offensive Coordinator was an absolute wizard in the first stanza, keeping the Lions defense on their heels with plenty of misdirection and unpredictability. Breaking out the rarely used read option for Keenum’s rushing touchdown was a brilliant call at the perfect time. After the first drive of the second half that made the score 27-10, it looked like the Vikings couldn’t be stopped and they were going to cruise to a victory.
Sell: Pat Shumur’s play calling after that. The Vikings managed only three points after the opening drive of the second half, in large part due to becoming much too predictable. I get wanting to pound the ball on the ground and milk the clock with a lead like that, but why not throw in some play action to keep the Lions defense guessing? It really felt like the Vikings were playing not to lose for most of the second half, and it became agonizingly close to coming to fruition late in the game.
Buy: It’s time to be concerned about the kicking game. For two weeks in a row, Kai Forbath hasn’t converted when we needed it. Both blocks weren’t really his fault today, but we’re starting to get that terrible familiar feeling we had when Blair Walsh was playing his way out of a job.
Sell: It’s time to think about switching kickers. Thinking that Forbath needs to be cut, like I saw a few times in my Twitter mentions today, is hitting the panic button way too early. His body of work this season is still very good overall. Let’s just hope they can clear up the recent kicking issues.
Buy: It’s time to stop asking Mike Zimmer who the starting quarterback will be every week. This is Case Keenum’s job until further notice. End of story.
Sell: Thinking that Teddy Bridgewater no longer matters. Teddy could still very well be a part of this team’s long-term future. This offseason still has way more questions than answers when it comes to the quarterback position, and Bridgewater deserves to be in the mix with anyone else that happens to be involved. And if he’s called upon for one reason or another down the stretch this season, I still have confidence that he’ll perform.
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Week
I watched today’s game at my in-laws, which meant I completely neglected interacting with family members for the better part of three hours this afternoon. There were eight children under the age of 5 in attendance, so the basement was just a little noisy while I was trying to focus on the game. My older daughter took a break from the madness to sit by her daddy on the couch for a few minutes and check in on the game right after the Vikings went up by 17. She’s mastering her numbers at preschool and saw her chance to show off her new knowledge.
“Look Daddy! It’s two-seven to ten. That means the Vikings are winning! That’s good because that makes you happy.”
Indeed, Gemma. The Vikings are winning, and that makes me very happy.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!