The Minnesota Vikings entered today’s game with a chance to make a statement, help rewrite some narratives, and pull even with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North while keeping pace with Seattle in the wildcard race.
Instead, we saw a Vikings team that struggled in all facets of the game at times, and once again, when given an opportunity to shine on the big stage, they didn’t, and reinforced every negative storyline that’s been written about this franchise in recent seasons. And if we’re being honest, those storylines have been earned.
Sometimes, it feels like the Vikings being able to play well against a really good team, especially on the road, is Over The Hills And Far Away. Isn’t it, Led Zeppelin?
Many have I loved
Many times been bitten
Many times I’ve gazed
Along the open road.
Many times I’ve lied
Many times I’ve listened
Many times I’ve wondered
How much there is to know.
Many dreams come true
And some have silver linings
I live for my dream
And a pocketful of gold.
Mellow is a man
Who knows what he’s been missing
Many many men
Can’t see the open road
The SMR that won’t try to airmail simple nouns and verbs follows.
No One. I’m having a hard time finding anyone that stood out today, to be honest. For every guy that had some good aspects to their game, they also had moments that negated it on the back end. Also, I’m thinking of making up a new rule—if the team doesn’t win, no one gets a blue chip.
Dalvin Cook, RB: Cook had a hard time getting untracked today, rushing for only 36 yards on 10 carries in the first half. In the second half, though, Minnesota targeted him some more, and on the day he ended up with 115 yards from scrimmage. He didn’t score, but his ability to break tackles and get extra yards after contact was noticeable, and kept more than one drive alive.
Irv Smith, Jr., TE: Smith continues to impress whenever he’s targeted. On a day when the Vikings receiving corps was working with a bunch of backups, Smith stepped up and made plays when he was called on, finishing with 4 catches for 33 yards.
Everson Griffen, DE: Griff played like a man possessed at times today. He had three tackles for loss, and his one sack came when he jumped the snap, was held, and still made the play.
Laquon Treadwell, WR: We are pleased to welcome Treadwell to the 2019 Stock Market. He made his presence felt early, catching two passes on the Vikings initial TD drive. Both catches were on third down, converted the first down, and kept the drive alive. On the day, he ended up with 58 yards receiving and was Minnesota’s leading receiver for the game.
Mike Zimmer, head coach. There are several reasons the Vikings lost today, but Mike Zimmer’s coaching decisions, and those of his staff, rank right up there. Let’s go to the first quarter. Minnesota and KC have traded three and out possessions to open the game, and on their second possession the Vikes give the ball to Ameer Abdullah on third and short. Where was Dalvin Cook but whatever, that’s not my point. He goes off tackle and the ref marks him past the first down marker, but it was close. A heads up coach goes no huddle, hustles up to the line, and snaps the ball before Chiefs coach Andy Reid can throw the challenge flag. Instead, the Vikes huddle up, lollygag their asses up to the line, go in motion and whatever, and that gives enough time for KC to challenge the play. They win, because Abdullah was well short of the first down marker, and the Vikings punt. The Chiefs answered that with their first touchdown drive of the game.
His second questionable move, in my opinion, was early in the second quarter. Minnesota had answered Kansas City with a 12 play touchdown drive and forced a three and out. The Vikes got the ball and were at facing a 4th and one at their 45 after Kirk Cousins scrambled and slid short of the first down on third down. It really felt like the Vikes had momentum, and a first down there would lead to a drive the ended up with points. But the Vikes punted and played field position, pinning the Chiefs at their own 9 yard line. KC proceeded to go on a 17 play drive that ended up with a field goal and a 10-7 lead.
Finally, his challenge of the offensive pass interference on Travis Kelce that wasn’t called didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. It was on first down, the play only went for four yards, and since the first couple weeks of the season, it’s apparent that the NFL really isn’t going to, you know, enforce the letter of the rule, just the perception of what’s an ‘obvious’ penalty.
Zim just wasn’t on his A game today, it felt like.
Buy: Adam Thielen was healing and close to playing. Thielen is a big part of this offense and makes it immeasurably better. His hamstring injury was described as minor all along, so it felt like missing the Redskins game and then having 10 days off would be a smart plan for him getting back on the field.
Sell: Playing Adam Thielen. Yet, that plan backfired early. Thielen tweaked his hamstring on the Vikes first or second drive and didn’t return. Now the team is dealing with an injury that can linger for weeks, and no one truly knows how long he’ll be out. The smart play would be to keep him out for the next two games, as that leads into the bye week. Will that be enough time, though? Hamstring injuries are the worst, and they can linger for a lot longer than three weeks. It’s something that can be problematic for the rest of the season if Thielen pushes too hard, and when he’s out it affects what the offense can do. One thing we all agreed on coming into the season was the Vikings WR depth after Thielen and Diggs, and now here we are two months into the season with no real go to guys after Diggs.
Treadwell had a good game today, Bisi Johnson has had his moments, and maybe we’ll see something out of Josh Doctson in the coming weeks. But not addressing WR3 in the off-season has officially come back to bite this team in the ass, at the worst possible time.
Buy: Kirk’s decisiveness to run on third and 7 early second quarter. One of the things that Mike Zimmer wanted to see from Kirk Cousins this year was more decisiveness when deciding to keep the ball and run with it. Early in the second quarter today, Kirk bailed from the pocket and took off, with a lot of open field in front of him.
Sell: Kirk sliding and coming up short of first down. Yet, with all the open field, Kansas City closed in pursuit, Kirk gave himself up, and went into the ‘steal second base’ dive. The only problem with that was that he was a yard short of the first down, bringing up fourth down. Minnesota ended up kicking the ball away to the Chiefs, who took the ball and ended up kicking a field goal.
Buy: Getting the ball twice late in the 4th quarter with a legitimate chance to win the game. With a 23-20 lead, Minnesota got the ball with 7:47 left. A team that’s serious about putting away opponents goes on a long, clock eating drive there, and ends the game. But they didn’t. Still, with the score tied at 23, Minnesota got the ball back again with 2:30 left. All they needed to do was drive about 50 yards to get into field goal range and get out of there with a win.
Sell: Winning the game. Those last two drives were particularly frustrating. The Vikes had momentum on that first drive, as the offense had scored and then the defense forced the Chiefs to punt. A long drive there that ends in points seals the game. Even with that last drive, it was a very doable situation. They had the 2 minute warning, two timeouts, and the ball on the 25. It wouldn’t take much against one of the worst defenses in the NFL to get into scoring position, kick a field goal, and win the game. Yet, in those two drives, the VIkings ran six plays and lost seven yards. Remarkable.
Buy: Kirk Cousins with three touchdown passes. Sometimes Kirk Cousins makes a throw, and I have to rewind my DVR to make sure what I saw just happened. His TD throw to Kyle Rudolph, for example, was one of those throws. It was in traffic, down in the red zone, and he placed the ball in a spot that only Rudolph could get it. Incredible throw and catch
Sell: Kirk Cousins, airmail specialist. Other times, Kirk Cousins makes a throw and I also have to rewind my DVR to make sure what I saw just happened, because I ask myself how the hell a vet with that much time in the league airmails that many throws? It felt like he overthrew guys seven or eight times today, easy. Very frustrating to watch, when a couple of those plays looked like they were going to go for some big yards if he makes those throws.
Buy: The re-emergence of Laquon Treadwell. With Adam Thielen’s hamstring now officially ‘a thing’, Treadwell stepping up today was a welcome turn of events. Someone is going to need to become WR2, and why not Treadwell?
Sell: Laquon Treadwell having more receiving yards than Stefon Diggs. Still, let’s chat about Treadwell having more receiving yards than Stefon DIggs today, because THAT is NOT a recipe for success. One catch, four yards. Really??
Buy: Going for it on 4th and 1 right before the half. I loved the call. Minnesota was driving, and got down to the KC 15 with 29 seconds left. On 4th and 1, the Vikes decided to go for it, and Cousins found Irv Smith for a four yard gain, and a first down at the Chiefs 11.
Sell: The play call sequence after that 4th down conversion. Maybe it’s me, but it kind of felt that after the Vikes got the first down, they were content with settling for the field goal at that point. On first down Cousins was pressured and threw it towards Treadwell. On second down and third down Cousins threw it out of the left corner of the end zone. Really poor play calls for the pressure KC was bringing, and the Vikes still had a timeout to play with. Just seemed like a haphazard plan, and it turned out to be one of the turning points in the game.
Grandson Quote of The Week
So, the Vikings had just lost. Feeling kind of crappy, and my grandson Grayson Face Time’s me:
Grayson: PAPA WE’RE GETTING A PUPPY AND HE’S SO CUTE!
Puppies and grandkids are just what the doctor ordered.