After last Sunday’s loss to the Bears dropped the Vikings to 2-2, things that have been at a slow boil finally erupted this past week, and the Vikings were officially in crisis mode. Adam Thielen called out the Vikings offense for not being able to throw the ball, Kirk Cousins apologized to him on his podcast, and then Stefon Diggs said he wasn’t happy and said there was ‘truth to all rumors’ regarding his current dissatisfaction with the team.
The Vikings needed a win and a good game from the offense in the worst way possible, and they got one. Almost 500 yards of offense later and career-like days for Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins, and Adam Thielen, at least for one week the revolution will not be televised.
I guess good things can happen when you get tired of toein’ the line, right Rocky?
Baby, I’m tired of toeing the line
If you want to get uh-rid of me,
Baby, baby, baby, you’re doin’ fine
Baby, I’m tired of toeing the line
I’m gonna put on my walkin’ shoes
And leave you far behind
The SMR that is truth to all rumors follows.
Kirk Cousins, QB: I don’t know that there was any player in the NFL that needed a good game more desperately than Kirk Cousins did. He looked confident, threw the ball with authority, and stretched the field. He played a smart football game, made some big time throws, and trusted his receivers. It was a much needed bounce back game, and hopefully Cousins and the offense can build on this.
Dalvin Cook, RB: Yeah, The Chef fumbled on the Giants 2, but other than that he was amazing today. He totaled over 200 yards of total offense (132 rushing, 86 receiving), had incredible acceleration, and made people miss all day long. His catches and runs were football poetry on the green pages of a football field. But there was one run that won’t make the highlight that amazed me more than anything. Cook took a handoff and immediately had a defender in front of him. He immediately cut right and headed to the outside, with the defender paralleling him along the line of scrimmage. It looked like, at best a one or two yard loss. Cook hit the gas, outran the defender, got to the edge, and turned the corner for a four yard gain. We need to enjoy Dalvin Cook while we have him, because this guy is special.
Adam Thielen, WR: Thielen was once again the guy that lit up the NFL last year, and he once again reminded us why. He has remarkable hands and body control, and an uncanny knack where the boundary is. He had seven catches for 130 yards and two highlight reel touchdowns. Those have been there all season, and hopefully there’s a lot more as we move forward.
Dan Bailey, K: So when you doink a field goal on THE LEFT UPRIGHT AND IT STILL GOES IN...you’re having a good day. Kind of lost in all the controversy surrounding the offense is that Bailey is quietly having a really good season so far. He’s 7/8 on field goal attempts, and 10/11 on extra points. He went 4/4 on field goals today, and was instrumental in the Vikings getting 28 the hard way.
Anthony Barr, LB: Barr had a monstrous game today. He had a game ending interception to the cherry on top that was of this game, and was so far in the backfield on the safety it was like he almost took the handoff:
But his whole game was good today.
Eric Kendricks, LB: Speaking of guys that had good days, Kendricks just continues to build on an already solid 2019 season. Kendricks didn’t have the highlight plays that Barr had, but always seemed to be around the football and kept the Giants to a minimal gain.
Mike Hughes, CB: On a day when the Vikings CB group as a whole struggled, the play of Hughes really stood out. He had three pass break ups, and was tantalizingly close to two interceptions. I thought it would take him some time to get back up to speed coming off his knee injury, but he looks to be the best CB in the Vikings secondary right now.
Danielle Hunter, DE: Hunter had two of Minnesota’s four sacks today, and they were both monumental. The first one came on the Giants initial drive of the third quarter. A really questionable penalty on a Giants field goal gave New York a new set of downs and a first and goal on the Vikings five. On first down Hunter sacked Jones for a 10 yard loss, the Giants couldn’t overcome it, and had to settle for a field goal. Instead of it being 18-14, it’s only 18-10. Then, with the Vikings up 25-10, the Giants were driving. It was 4th and 2 from the Vikings three at the very end of the third quarter, and a couple of bad defensive penalties had given the Giants hope. A TD there makes it 25-17 and a one score game with a whole quarter to play. QB Daniel Jones rolled out and Hunter enveloped him, ending the drive and any realistic hope for a Giants comeback. Huge plays that changed the complexion of the game.
Offensive line: I gotta say, the o-line has had problems protecting Kirk, but for the most part today, they did a good job of opening up big holes for the running game while giving Cousins solid protection. Yeah, they had a couple penalties, but overall, it was a really solid performance. Also, having Josh Kline returning really had a big impact on the overall line play, if we’re being honest.
Alexander Mattison, RB: Hey remember when people said ‘Alexander who? never heard of this dude, what a wasted draft pick.’ Good times, good times.
Harrison Smith, S: Smith had another couple big pass break ups again today, and was standing right next to Anthony Barr on the safety.
Everson Griffen, DE: Everson Griffen should be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year.
Olabisi Johnson, WR: Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe the Vikings have found their long lost WR3, and he comes to you in the form of Olabisi Johnson. FINALLY, someone other than Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen stood out as a wide receiver today. Johnson had four catches (one more than Stefon Diggs) for 43 yards (one less than Stefon Diggs) today, and looked like the real deal. Having a legitimate third option at WR is going to be critical for this offense moving forward.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: Not a good game for Rhodes today, and it feels more and more like the shutdown cornerback we saw in 2016-2017 isn’t coming back anytime soon. He gave up a TD to rookie Darius Slayton, and was flagged for a horse collar penalty as well.
Kyle Rudolph, TE: Can someone explain to me why the Vikings signed Rudolph to an extension? He’s not being used in the passing game, the last good block he threw was against me on Twitter, and for the love of God can we shoot the TE screen they run with him into deep space, please? It’s about as effective as essential oils are against freaking polio.
Buy: The offense was way better today. It’s really hard to find fault with an offense that had 490 yards, while the QB threw for over 300, RB1 had over 130 yards on the ground, and one of two WR1’s had 130 yards and two TD’s. It was a performance that was sorely needed for the team and the fans.
Sell: The Red Zone offense was better today. But nothing is perfect, and the Vikings struggled for the first time in the red zone today. On the opening drive of the game, they got down to the 13, but had to settle for a field goal. On their third drive Cook fumbled inside the five and the Giants recovered when it looked like he was going in to score. Granted, it turned out to not be a big deal, as the Vikings won handily, but it was mildly concerning.
Buy: What Diggs said needed to be said. Whatever the issue was had been simmering for awhile, and after the Bears game, it needed to be said. It worked, and the Vikings came together and had a whale of a football game. Hell, if it ends up with games like this, maybe he needs to call someone out every week.
Sell: The way Diggs said it. I’ve never been a fan of complaining to the press, though. Had the Vikings lost today, what Diggs said and did on Wednesday would have gone nuclear, and it would have taken on a life of it’s own. I get the frustration, as we all felt it, and I have no issue with calling people out when they’re underperforming. But like Diggs said himself in the locker room after the game, he could have handled it a lot differently. And yes, he wants to be in Minnesota.
Buy: This was a needed win. This win settled a lot of jittery nerves in Vikings Land. Not everything is all unicorns and rainbows yet, but at least the Vikings gave themselves a launching point to get to the unicorns and rainbows stage. A loss today would have meant death, pestilence, and plague across the land.
Sell: This win cures everything that ails the Vikings. They still have a tough schedule ahead. Philly comes to town this week, then a big road game against Detroit. The defense still had problems with drive extending penalties on third down, the offense had some issues in the red zone, and were it not for two Daniel Jones overthrows this could have been a completely different ballgame. Still, though, it was a good win, and that’s what matters for today.
Buy: The Vikings have a problem with penalties. We mentioned the defense and their mind numbing third down penalties. It killed them against the Bears last week, and it cost them again today. The Vikings are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL this year, and after five games it’s now officially ‘a thing’.
Sell: The amount of penalties in a typical game is good for the NFL. All of that said, it seems like the NFL is doing everything they can to make this great game unwatchable. Rules changes in recent years are making the game unrecognizable from what it was just 4-5 years ago. Referees are over legislating what penalties they do understand, are screwing up replay calls over what rules they don’t understand, and throwing ticky tack flags where everyone goes ‘wtf was that call’ are dragging the game down.