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It was a playoff elimination game for the Vikings and Packers, and the Vikings came up big.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings USA TODAY NETWORK

The Sunday Night matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers was pretty much a post-season elimination game. If the Vikings lost, their playoff chances dipped to 28%. If the Packers lost, they were essentially done. It was two bitter division rivals, fighting for their playoff lives, on national TV for all to see.

It was ugly early, though, as the Vikings offense had trouble getting untracked, Aaron Rodgers looked like the MVP Aaron Rodgers of old, and US Bank Stadium became as unsettled as an active earthquake fault line.

But both the offense and the defense settled down, the Vikings tied the game twice, and then pulled away and won, 24-17. When you combine this huge win with the Gophers bringing home Paul Bunyan’s Axe after 15 years in a pantsing of the Wisconsin, the state of Minnesota is walking on sunshine, aren’t we Katrina? Oh, and Ohio State beat Michigan. Again. Ho hum.

I feel alive, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real

I feel alive, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real

I’m on sunshine, baby, oh

Oh, yeah, I’m on sunshine, baby

Oh, I’m walking on sunshine, whoa

I’m walking on sunshine, whoa

I’m walking on sunshine, whoa

And don’t it feel good

Hey, all right now

And don’t it feel good

I’ll say it, I’ll say it, I’ll say it again now

And don’t it feel good

Hey, yeah now

And don’t it feel good

Now don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it

And don’t it feel good

I’ll say it, I’ll say it, I’ll say it again now

And don’t it feel good

Now don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it, don’t it

And don’t it feel good

Now tell me, tell me, tell me again now

And don’t it feel good

Oh, yeah, now

And don’t it feel good

Oh, don’t it feel good, don’t it feel good

Now don’t it feel good

Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah

And don’t it feel good

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah

And don’t it feel good

The SMR that hasn’t lost to our rivals in a combined 3,258 days follows.

Blue Chips:

Kirk Cousins, QB: Entering the Sunday Night game, Kirk Cousins had a record of 4-12 or something ridiculous in primetime, and the ‘he struggles in big games’ was a legitimate criticism, although most of that was in his time with Washington. Sunday Night went a long way to helping reverse that narrative, though, as Cousins played near flawless football, completing 29-38 passes for 342 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly no interceptions. He threw some absolute dimes to his receivers, and on the few throws he was off, he got bailed out by his receivers. Cousins has had better games statistically with the Vikings, but I would argue this was his most complete game. He made good decisions all night, climbed the pocket really well, and if he didn’t have anything downfield he played it safe and ran the ball.

Adam Thielen, WR: Thielen set a team record for most 100 yard receiving games in a season, on a night the previous record holder, Randy Moss, received his Hall of Fame ring in a halftime ceremony. He made a ridiculous catch in double coverage for 33 yards, a 14 yard ‘GET OUT OF MY WAY I’M SCORING’ touchdown, and ended the night with eight catches for 125 yards. The most unathletic 125 yards ever, I might add. (Eyeroll).

Sheldon Richardson, DT: Richardson has been having a good year, being very disruptive in the middle all season, and I would argue he had his best game of the year tonight, registering two sacks and making life generally miserable for Packers C Cory Linsley.

Solid Investments:

Dalvin Cook, RB: Getting Cook involved in the passing game paid off, as he scored the Vikings first TD of the evening on a 26 yard swing pass, had another really good catch and run later in the game, ended up with 47 yards receiving on three catches, and another 29 yards rushing.

Stefon Diggs, WR: Diggs had a kind of typical Diggs-type game, with eight catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. His 30 yard TD catch was off a beautifully run route, and had he caught an admittedly difficult throw in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, it would have been the dagger. Although I would argue his best catch of the night was the third and six catch and run that went for 10 yards and sealed the game. It was one of the few bad throws by Cousins, about a foot behind Diggs. DIggs made an incredible reach back to grab the throw, right himself, and get upfield to get the first down. Ballgame.

Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph has had a quiet season, but early on he was the only guy that Cousins could count on and he was instrumental in the Vikings offense getting untracked. And this was at a time in the game when they had zero momentum and the home fans were starting to get restless. His seven catches was tied for the most catches in a game for him since week two against...Green Bay. His 63 receiving yards is his second highest total of the season, and he put the offense on his back early against the Packers.

Junk Bonds:

Xavier Rhodes, CB: The 2018 version of Xavier Rhodes is not the 2017 version of Xavier Rhodes, and at this point of the season I don’t think there’s a whole lot that can be done. He got turned around on the Davante Adams TD, he had a big defensive PI called against him that led to said Adams TD, he gave up another big completion to Adams late, and had Aaron Rodgers not inexplicably missed and easy TD throw to Adams a few plays later, Green Bay would have made the game 24-21. Oh, and he was hurt again on that second big completion to Adams. Rinse, repeat.

Push

Everson Griffen, DE: I had Griff squarely in the ‘Junk Bond’ category at halftime. He jumped offsides, missed Aaron Jones on a tackle down near the goal line (a less gracious person would say he got trucked by Jones), and he didn’t seal the edge on Jones’ TD in first quarter. But in the second half he played much better...like the rest of the Vikings defense. He had a sack, brought a lot more pressure when he rushed the quarterback, and played about as well in the second half as anyone on defense.

Buy/Sell:

Buy: Go for it on fourth and one inch from their own 30 on the first drive of the game. I honestly loved the call. It’s a do or die game, and if you can’t make one inch, with this much on the line, you don’t deserve to win the football game, and you DO deserve all the recriminations that don’t come with winning the football game.

Sell: 12 men in the huddle on fourth and one inch from their own 30. How does that happen? How does that happen AFTER YOU CALL A FREAKING TIMEOUT? I had no problem with taking the timeout, either. GIve the line a bit of a pep talk, get on the same page as to what play you’re going to run—heck, you’re on your own 30, it’s a big call. But getting penalized for 12 men in the huddle was inexcusable. THIS ISN’T DETROIT, MAN! IT’S THE PLAYOFFS ON THE LINE (apologies to Paul Allen).

Buy: Getting Rudolph involved in the offense early. I mentioned it above, but getting Rudy involved early really helped settle the Vikings offense after that stupid penalty that ended the first drive.

Sell: Not getting Dalvin Cook involved in the offense early. Almost 10 minutes of game clock had expired by the time Cook touched the ball for the first time, and it was a nine yard gain. His second touch came with over 13 minutes of the first quarter expired, and it was a touchdown. A person might argue that had Cook got the ball earlier, the Vikings offense might not have struggled as much as they did.

Buy: The thought you want to take as much time off the clock at the end of the first half to keep the ball out of the hands of Aaron Rodgers. He’s one of the best two minute QB’s of all time, and I understand the thought process here—eat the clock, get down the field and score, and don’t give the Packers any time to do anything before halftime. They got the ball to start the second half, so that strategy made sense.

Sell: The two minute drive that ended the half. They had 2:51 and one timeout left, essentially two with the two minute warning. Yet the Vikings and a two minute drill go together about as well as Michigan beating Ohio State (you knew I was going to slip that in,and when I didn’t mention it earlier you were wondering where and when, admit it. Sorry not sorry). The play calling was suspect early (inside runs and short passes), penalties hurt them, and the drive was a discombobulated mess. When it was done, all they could manage was to set K Dan Bailey up for a 51 yard field goal, which he drilled...only the Vikings committed a stupid penalty that turned it into a 56 yard attempt, which he missed. What was even more stupid was an either running into or roughing the kicker penalty that wasn’t called, which would have given Bailey either another stupid 52 yard attempt, or a less stupid 41 yard attempt. Just a full bucket of stupid to end the half.

Buy: The fourth down stop in the third quarter. This was arguably the turning point in the game. About midway through the third quarter, the game was still tied 14-14 and Green Bay faced a fourth and one (which was actually about six inches) from their own 44. A first down there gives the Packers some momentum, and they’re about 20 yards from getting into scoring position and taking the lead. Rodgers handed off to Aaron Jones, and Harrison Smith shot off the edge like a bullet and stones him. No gain, Vikings get the ball in plus territory, get a field goal to take the lead and they don’t look back.

Sell: Inability to convert on third and one. Yet the Vikings inability to convert on third and short was just as frustrating for the Vikings offense. A couple of times they did get creative on second and short (Cousins sneak, short swing pass to C.J. Ham), but on third down they had zero luck, and very unimaginative play-calling.

Buy: The offensive line pass protecting. I think this was the cleanest pocket Kirk Cousins had to throw from all season. He was only sacked twice, and the Packers didn’t pressure him except when Mike Remmers literally seemed to push his guy into Cousins. One of the more amazing ‘look out blocks I’ve ever seen. I’d actually call it a ‘here let me help’ block it was so bad.

Sell: The offensive line run-blocking. As good as pass protection was, the Vikings o-line had trouble opening up running lanes for a Packers defense that’s beat up and battered. I really expected the Vikings to have more yards rushing, but they did did run the ball with some efficiency, getting 91 yards on 31 carries. Still, with two backs as agood as Cook and Latavius Murray, the Vikings have no business being at the bottom of the NFL in rushing.

Buy: The Limbo TD celebration was awesome. The Vikings keep outdoing themselves with team TD celebrations, and they did it again tonight with their ‘Limbo’. It was funny, original, and creative.

Sell: The Duck Duck Gray Duck celebration was better. So was Duck Duck Gray Duck...but Limbo was better.

Grandson quote of the night:

So grandson Gabriel spent the night, and he didn’t really get to see any of the game, as he had to go take his bath and then go to bed. So all he really had time to do was come down to give me a kiss and hug good night. The game was still in the first quarter, and on commercial, so instead of talking about the game, we had this conversation:

Gabriel (in his pajamas): Hi Papa!

Me: Hey Gabriel! I guess it’s bedtime, huh?

Gabriel: Yeah, it is.

Me: Well, come give me a hug and kiss. Did you take your bath?

Gabriel: Yeah. Wanna smell my armpits?

With the way the game was going at the time, I was half tempted, as it was a better option than what was transpiring on the TV at the moment.

So the Vikings get a huge win against their biggest rival while knocking them out of the playoff picture in the process. for the regular season, it doesn’t get a whole let better than this, does it?

Skol Vikings, let’s beat the Patriots.