Hi kids, Victory Monday sure feels a lot better than Shoulda Could Woulda Monday, doesn’t it? Yet, it still feels like the Vikings didn’t win in the manner some fans thought, or that it wasn’t an impressive enough win, or they were just lucky, or something, anything, to take away from this really important game.
So, let’s talk.
The inability for some folks to just enjoy a win, even momentarily, amazes me. First and foremost, it’s a win. Winning in the NFL is hard to do. Winning on the road in the NFL is even more difficult. And the stigma around this team for the last two years has been their inability to win a game just like this.
But they won. Throw out whatever lame excuse you want to try and downplay this win, but you can’t. It was an enormous victory for this team in a lot of ways.
They moved to 7-3, stayed within a game of the Packers, put space in the wildcard race between them, the Rams, and Carolina, who both lost, and depending on the outcome of the Monday Night game, could move up one spot into the fifth seed in the NFC playoff picture.
Was it ugly? At times, sure. The secondary looked pretty shaky, the Cousins to Diggs connection isn’t really working well, and Britton Colquitt had a couple more shaky punts. Even though Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb made some incredible catches, there were also times when the Vikings coverage was soft, gave up some really easy catches and yards, and the defense as a whole had trouble getting off the field on third down. They did a great job of stonewalling Ezekiel Elliott, though, allowing only 47 yards on 20 carries.
When the offense HAD to make a play, they did. the Vikings went into a bit of a funk in the second quarter after coming out hot and scoring touchdowns on their first two drives. On their two minute drive to end the half I thought they should have taken a shot at the end zone instead of that checkdown to Irv Smith, Jr. Coming out of the locker room, I also thought they really needed a touchdown, because the defense was having a hard time stopping the Cowboys offense, and when they settled for a field goal, Dallas went right down the field and took the lead. But the Vikings answered with what I consider to be their most important drive of the year to this point. Starting on their own 25 and down 21-20, they went on a 13 play, 75 yard drive that ended when Dalvin Cook scored on a fourth and goal from the 2 yard line. If ever there was a gut check for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense, that was it. They delivered, and Mike Zimmer played to win.
When the defense HAD to make a play, they did. In the fourth quarter, they bowed up when Dallas got to the Minnesota 6, and they held them to a field goal to preserve a 28-24 lead. On Dallas’ drive to take the lead and win the game, yeah, they let the Cowboys go from their own 5 to the Minnesota 14 without breaking much of a sweat. But then Eric Kendricks made the defensive play of the game when he broke up Prescott’s pass to Elliott on fourth down, and that essentially sealed the game. Ugly? At times, but they found a way.
And for now, just for a little while, shut up about Kirk Cousins not being able to win a big game, on the road, in primetime. Because he’s now won two primetime games this year, both of which have come in this recent streak of five wins in six games, and the Vikings seemed to regain a little bit of that swagger they had during their October winning streak.
There’s stuff to work on, and no, if the Vikes make the post-season, it won’t last long if they keep giving up 400 yards in the air. I get that, but consider the Vikings were down a starting cornerback to the third best passing offense in the NFL, that offense threw for nearly 400 yards, and the Vikings overcame it and won.
Recent history tells us the Vikings usually don’t overcome that, don’t get it done, and lose in excruciating fashion.
Last night, they flipped that script. With three important starters out, the Minnesota Vikings beat the NFC East division leader in their house, in prime time, and they sent notice to the rest of the NFL that this team is one that is going to be a tough out from here until the season ends...whenever that may be.
Thank you for listening to my TED talk.