When the schedule comes out every year, there are a few games that you look at and go ‘eh, I dunno.’ At Pittsburgh is one of those games, and when it was announced that Case Keenum would start in place of an injured Sam Bradford, ‘eh, I dunno’ became more of a ‘man, I REALLY don’t know.’
And Sunday, it was just a Case of a bad offense, too many penalties, and the now weekly drama of Sam Bradford’s Ailing Knee. It was a Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Wasn’t it, Bono?
I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long
'Cause tonight, we can be as one
Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Your SMR that...
/whistle, Pete Morelli keys his mic
‘False start, SMR. Five yard penalty. Repeat first down.’
Well, it’s been that kind of day for everyone. SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Everson Griffen, DE: On a day when the defense was asked to shoulder more than their fair share, Griffen held up his end of the bargain. He had two sacks, and was bringing solid pressure off the edge all afternoon. He was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dismal day.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: Antonio Brown had 62 yards on 5 catches today. Looking at some stuff on the Internet, it looks like when he was matched up on Xavier Rhodes, which was for a good chunk of the game, he was limited to 3 catches for 30 yards. There wasn’t a lot to appreciate in this game, but Rhodes was another bright spot, and between you and me I think Rhodes is the best cornerback in the game today, regardless of what anyone else says.
Dalvin Cook, RB: Cook had some tough runs today, and his quick start to the second half briefly got the Vikings back in to the game. He had 12 carries for 64 yards, including a 25 yard run that was initially called a touchdown, but was reversed on review. And that cost me six fantasy points. Not that I’m bitter, or anything.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph led the Vikings in receiving yards today, with 45. he had 27 on a nifty one handed bobbling catch on a third and 20. That catch made me think that might be the spark to get the Vikings going. I was wrong.
Laquon Treadwell, WR: Treadwell had career highs in catches (3) and yards (33). I don’t say that to joke or mock Treadwell. I’m legit encouraged that he’s getting more involved in the offense, and I’m hopeful he can see more and more targets each week, especially in the red zone.
The Offensive Line, Featuring Nick Easton and Mike Remmers: It felt like 2016 all over again, as Case Keenum was under pressure constantly, and Remmers was giving up more pressure than your local proctologist. Nick Easton looked like the biggest offender in the running game, as he got beat early and often, limiting Cook and the other backs all day.
Trae Waynes, CB: Trae Waynes had a really bad game, giving up another long pass this week, and a bad pass interference penalty, which went for 49 yards. Two plays, over 100 yards. He was benched for awhile, and it kind of feels like he’s heading to the dog house. We’ll see what happens if Tramaine Brock gets activated next week.
Case Keenum, QB: This feels almost unfair to give Keenum a junk bond rating, but even though he’s the backup QB, he could have played a lot better. On the one hand, 20/37 for 167 yards isn’t terrible for a backup, and he was running for his life a lot. But he airmailed several throws, and wasn’t able to make a throw when he needed to, save for the big Rudolph catch. And let’s face it, that throw was a bad throw, and Rudy made a heck of a play there.
Buy: Kai Forbath kicking field goals. Forbath is 19 for 19 kicking field goals since the Vikings signed him to replace Blair Walsh midway through last season. And he hit another one today, a 42 yarder that got the Vikings on the board.
Sell: Kai Forbath kicking extra points. Like seriously what the hell is the deal with Vikings kickers and extra points? He missed another one today, his fifth since he signed with the Vikings, and his second in two weeks. Small sample size and all, but Forbath is on pace to miss 16 extra points this year. If I was the Vikings, I’d just go for two after every TD. It would probably be a wash by the end of the season.
Buy: The Sam Bradford trade, one year later. If there’s anyone who still thinks the Sam Bradford trade was a bad trade one year later, I’m not sure what I can say to convince you otherwise after today’s game. Yeah, a bad knee kept him sidelined today, but he’s clearly the Vikings best option over the other guys on the active roster, as long as he’s healthy.
Sell: The quarterback disaster the Vikings would have if they hadn’t made the Bradford trade. If the Vikings hadn’t made that trade, what we saw today with Case Keenum would be the norm for the quarterback position not just for today, but for every game until the bye, minimum. If not for the trade, the Vikings would be trotting out Keenum every week, or a guy very similar to him. Like Mike Glennon, the pick 6 machine, for example. And we would all be hoping and praying that the Vikings could somehow scratch their way to .500 at the break, and then hope and pray some more that Teddy Bridgewater could play. And not be rusty after 18 months of no football.
Buy: Over 100 yards of penalties makes a tough game even tougher. 11 penalties for 131 yards puts both the offense and the defense on their heels. On offense, it meant that of the 8 first downs the Vikings faced on Sunday, 5 of them resulted in 3rd and 7 or more, largely due to a penalty. That’s a lot of tough conversions to make for your starting quarterback. With your backup? It’s next to impossible. On defense, a monumentally dumb offsides penalty on Brian Robison kept a Steelers drive alive on 4th and 1. The Steelers, of course, eventually scored a touchdown. And we’ve already talked about the big Waynes PI that led to another Steelers TD. When you’re playing short handed like the Vikings were, repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot made it impossible for them overcome the mistakes and win the game.
Sell: Those were all good calls. All of that said, Pete Morelli’s crew was flag happy, and made some really ticky tack calls. The Steelers had 10 penalties for 72 yards themselves, and it felt like any time the game was getting into a flow, the refs made sure it became about them. I’m not a conspiracy theorist that thinks referee crews favor one team over another at the behest of NFL Headquarters, but turn on any NFL game, and you’ll see games that turn on egregiously bad calls every week. The NFL product is deteriorating for a lot of reasons, and utterly incompetent refereeing is a big reason why.
Quote Of The Week:
So my grandson Grayson was over for a bit during the game today, and watched part of the game in between games of hide and seek with his grandma. When the Vikings scored their lone touchdown, the following exchange took place:
Grayson: Papa, did the good guys score?
Me: Yes, they did!
Grayson: Will they score enough?
Me (sighing): No...probably not.
When the game ended, he asked:
Grayson: Did the Bikings score enough to win the game?
Me: No, they didn’t.
Grayson: Just like I told you.
Me: Just like you told me.
/I stand up out of my chair
Grayon: PAPA THE CARPET IS LAVA AND HAS SHARKS IN IT RUN TO THE COUCH QUICK TO SAVE YOURSELF!!
Lava and sharks was pretty much a great way to end the afternoon, to be honest. See you next week.