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A TED Talk, Week 8

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The Vikes won in prime time on a night they were out of sync at times. That’s the takeaway here.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Minnesota Vikings David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Hi kids, and good morning. I’ve never really been a fan of the Thursday Night games. I mean sure, I guess it was cool in the beginning, but almost every week we get below average football by two teams wearing uniforms that are utterly ridiculous. I am ready for the NFL to end these Thursday night games, but because the league can pretty much print money with them, they aren’t going away.

I need to quit thinking conventionally about these Thursday affairs, because conventional doesn’t usually apply like it would under normal circumstances. And look, you can go all ‘get off my lawn’ or whatever, but shoot those Primetime Purple uniforms straight into the Sun, along with the screen to Kyle Rudolph. In theory, I like the tight end screen, but how about we do it with the young, athletic tight end that can, you know, run with some speed?

In theory and in practice, though, the Primetime Purple uniforms are hideous.

Okay, enough about uniforms, let’s talk about What It All Means. The Vikings won, and they’re 6-2. Minnesota did enough to win a game on a night when they struggled on both sides of the ball for a good part of the night, and that’s the big takeaway. In the first half, old friend Case Keenum worked the Vikings secondary like a rented U-Haul, moving a moribund Redskins offense up and down the field. Other than for a couple big plays by the Vikings defense, an untimely Washington penalty or two, and solid red zone play when their backs were against the wall, the Vikings could have found themselves in a world of hurt going in to the locker room.

On the other side of the ball, the Minnesota offense played well, but self-destructed once they got into Washington territory, settling for two field goals before they punched it across for a TD right before halftime. In the second half, all the Vikes could do was manage two more field goals, but they put the game away with an epic eight minute drive to close things out. May I present a piece of art we’ll call Michelangelo's Dalvin:

Yet this morning, there seems to be a lot of fans out in the social media jungle that can’t focus on the One Thing That Matters from this game, which is that the Vikings won. No, it wasn’t pretty, and yes, the Vikes looked out of sync on both sides of the ball, and sure, I’ll even concede that they struggled for parts of the game.

So what? They won. They won on a night when key players on both offense and defense played a bad game. They won when they struggled, at times, against a 1-6 football team. They won when they weren’t firing on all cylinders. They won in primetime, a bugaboo for both the franchise and the franchise quarterback.

They won.

Winning in the NFL is hard to do, and you’re not going to have your ‘A’ game every week. Up until last night, the Vikings offense had been playing at historically great levels, and there was bound to be an eventual regression. Even when they did regress last night, Kirk Cousins still threw for almost 300 yards, Dalvin Cook nearly ran for 100 yards, and Stefon Diggs nearly had 150 receiving yards.

So did Minnesota struggle? At times, sure. On a night when you’re not going to roll up 500 yards of offense and hang a 40 burger on someone, you still need to find a way to win, and the Vikings did that. And if you’re going to struggle, I’d much rather see them struggle against a 1-6 football team and still find a way to win as opposed to struggling against a really good team and get their ass kicked.

Are there players we need to worry about moving forward? Yeah, I think that’s fair. Xavier Rhodes’ drop-off in play is alarming, and teams are no longer afraid to throw at him. Last night I would even argue the Redskins intentionally targeted him, and they were very successful:

After three pretty good games, Pat Elflein regressed in pass protection. Heck, Josh Kline even struggled, so that’s something that’s going to need to be cleaned up. It was troubling to see the defense give up a lot of yards early, and frustrating to watch what had been an exceptional red zone offense short circuit when they had an opportunity to put this game away fairly early.

But there will be time to dissect all of that moving forward, and I’m sure we’ll hit on all those topics and more. The important thing to remember this morning is that half the season is now over, Minnesota sits at 6-2, and they’re hot on the heels of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. They have two big road games coming up with the Chiefs and Cowboys, and 10 days to rest before they head to Kansas City.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in those two games, nor the rest of the season after that, but I do know I’d rather be 6-2 at the turn than 5-3.

And if you would have told me a month ago this team would rally to go 6-2, I would have called you a liar. So let’s enjoy this win, enjoy this mini-bye, and get ready for the second half run.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk.