Many facets of the game of football were on display tonight. For the majority of the game, defense was not one of them. Under a picture-perfect California sky, the Minnesota Vikings kicked off the NFL’s Week Four schedule Thursday night by taking on the Los Angeles Rams . The Rams won the toss and deferred, bringing Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense onto the field to start the game.
Cousins’ passing offense moved the ball down the field, and Dalvin Cook’s running was hot and cold. On third-and-ten from the Rams sixteen, Cousins hit Vikings newcomer Aldrick Robinson on a pretty pass in the end zone. Fellow Vikings newcomer Dan Bailey banged the extra point through, to make the score 7-0 Vikings. The drive went 13 plays for 75 yards and took 7:05 off the clock.
The Rams, wearing their classic blue-and-yellow jerseys went on their own 12-play, 75-yard drive before quarterback Jared Goff hit running back Todd Gurley on a quick-hit pass to even the score at 7. The offense seemed to be picking on Anthony Barr just a bit, and Gurley blew past Barr on the touchdown.
The Vikings took over, and Cousins once again drove the Vikings down the field, including a couple of very nice third-and-fourth-down conversions. Dan Bailey came in for the 37 yards try. For a few fleeting milliseconds, it seemed like the kick was going… you guessed it, wide right. The familiar *BONG* of the uprights sounded, and the ball… went… THROUGH!!!!! ZOMGWEHAVEAKICKERAGAIN!!!
The Rams struck quickly on the next drive - against Anthony Barr yet again - with Jared Goff hitting wide receiver Cooper Kupp in stride for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown, giving the Rams their first lead of the game at 14-10. It probably wasn’t entirely Barr’s fault, as replays showed Mac Alexander was initially covering Kupp.
Cousins and the Vikings offense didn’t flinch one bit. Three plays, seventy five yards, 1:22 off the clock. Bang. Bang. Bang. Passes of 34, 24, and finally a 17-yard touchdown, again to Aldrick Robinson, putting the Vikings on top 17-14.
Apparently both coaching staffs had reached the end of their playbooks, as both teams exchanged three-and-outs.
Then, the Rams stormed back down the field on a four play, 71-yard drive which culminated with Goff hitting Cooper Kupp yet again, to put the Rams back on top 21-17. The drive was marked by poor play and penalties in the defensive backfield. Momentum, body language, everything was pointing at the Rams at this point.
The Vikings went five yards on four plays before punting. Then, Xavier Rhodes held his man, kicked the penalty flag, and Jared Goff then hit Brandin Cooks in stride for a 47 yard touchdown, making the score 28-17 Los Angeles.
The Vikings abysmal clock management once again reared its ugly head, with the team wasting twenty seconds before bringing in Dan Bailey, who booted the ball through the uprights once again, bringing the Vikings to within eight. At halftime, the score stood at 28-20 Rams.
To begin the second half, Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter made two nice plays and the Rams were forced to punt. Rams Head Coach Sean McVay reached into his bag of tricks to attempt a fake punt, which the Vikings covered well, forcing the turnover on downs.
The Vikings were once again forced to punt. The Rams then benefitted from an absolutely awful non-call on a block in the back by guard Rodger Saffold, which allowed Todd Gurley to scamper 57 yards. That brought the Rams into field goal range, and Sam Ficken booted it through making the score 31-20.
The Vikings took over with 5:21 left in the third quarter. Kirk Cousins hit Stefon Diggs on a couple of nice plays, then nailed Adam Thielen for a 45 yard score. The Vikings lined up for two, where Cousins then hit Latavius Murray in the flat for the two-point conversion, bringing the Vikings to within three at 31-28.
The Rams would answer back yet again, as Jared Goff hit Robert Woods down the seam for a 31-yard touchdown over (it hurts to even say, at this point) Anthony Barr, making the score 38-28.
After a Vikings punt, the Rams ran over five and a half minutes off the clock. The Vikings defense held, and forced a field goal attempt by Sam Fickens from 28. Fickens missed, and the score held at 38-28.
The Vikings then went on nine play, 58-yard drive which ended with a Dan Bailey 40-yard field goal, bringing them within a touchdown of the Rams, at 38-31.
With just over two minutes remaining, the Vikings got the ball back with a chance to tie, but Kirk Cousins was stripped of the ball by Rams Defensive End John Franklin-Meyers, and the Rams recovered, effectively ending the game.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins was 36/50 for 422 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was sacked four times, for 30 yards.
He also led the team in rushing, carrying four times for 28 yards. Dalvin Cook rushed ten times for 20 yards, and Latavius Murray and Roc Thomas ran a combined three times for six yards.
The Vikings receivers stat lines were as follows:
Stefon Diggs 11/123, Adam Thielen 8/135/1, Kyle Rudolph 5/57, Laquon Treadwell 4/47, Aldrick Robinson 2/33/2
Defensively, the Vikings stats would be laughable, if it didn’t hurt so much. Danielle Hunter grabbed the only sack of the night, the team forced no turnovers, and gave up 556 yards of total offense. If there is a silver lining, the team held the Rams to just 1-of-6 on third-down. The problem is that the Rams had twelve drives, which means six times, they never had to worry about a third down conversion.
With the loss, the Vikings fall to 1-2-1 on the season. Up next is another road game, this time against the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Thank you to everyone for hanging around the game threads and also thanks to those of you who found your Vikings coverage right here on the Daily Norseman.