Coming into their NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings appeared to have some momentum on their side in their quest to advance to a second NFC Championship Game in three years.
The Niners could not possibly have cared less.
The NFC’s #1 seed simply dominated on the front line on both sides of the football on Saturday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium, thumping the Vikings by a final score of 27-10 and officially ending their season.
The Niners got on the board on their first possession after forcing a Minnesota three-and-out on the first drive of the game. San Francisco moved downfield with very little effort, and concluded the eight-play, 61-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Kendrick Bourne to give the home team an early 7-0 lead.
The Vikings answered with a score of their own on the next drive, this one coming on a very nice pitch-and-catch from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs. On 3rd-and-2, Cousins lofted one to Diggs on the left sideline, and Diggs made a nice adjustment to come down with the ball and take it to the end zone to tie things at 7-7.
Midway through the second quarter, the Niners got on the board again, this time on a 1-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman. The big play on the drive was a play that was originally ruled a fumble by Deebo Samuel that was recovered by the Vikings, but was (correctly) overturned on replay to allow the Niners to keep the ball. That score gave the Niners a 14-7 lead with a little over seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The Vikings did finally generate a turnover near the two-minute warning, as Garoppolo was intercepted by Eric Kendricks at the Niners’ 29-yard line for a huge play.
Unfortunately, the Vikings had to settle for a field goal, as Dan Bailey put it just inside the left upright from 39 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-10. That’s how they went into the locker room at halftime.
The Niners turned the first possession of the second half into three points, courtesy of a 35-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, and pushed the lead back to seven points at 17-10. The Niners generated a turnover of their own after that, as a pass from Cousins intended for Thielen was intercepted by Richard Sherman. The Niners cashed in with Coleman’s second touchdown of the day, this one a two-yard run to increase their lead to 24-10.
Even when the Vikings managed to get stops, they had bad things happen, as Marcus Sherels muffed a 49ers punt late in the third quarter, with the Niners taking over at the Minnesota 8-yard line. The Vikings’ defense managed to limit the Niners to a 21-yard field goal from Gould to make it 27-10 on the second play of the fourth quarter.
That was how it ended, and the Vikings now head to an offseason where they’ll have plenty of questions to answer.
Minnesota was simply dominated on both sides of the football in this one. They had ten offensive possessions, and seven of them were three plays or fewer. The Niners also held the ball for nearly forty minutes and simply wore the Vikings’ defense down over the course of the afternoon.
Kirk Cousins didn’t play a great game in this one, completing 121-of-29 passes for just 172 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was also sacked six times on the afternoon.
The run game for the Vikings also generated just about nothing, as Dalvin Cook didn’t get on track all afternoon. He had just 18 yards on nine carries as the San Francisco defense was geared up to shut him down.
The Vikings finish the 2019 season with a record of 11-7, including their 1-1 postseason mark. The 49ers, who are the #1 seed in the NFC for a reason, now await the winner of Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks and will host the 2019 NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.
The 2019 season is over for your Minnesota Vikings, as they fall to the San Francisco 49ers by a final score of 27-10 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs at Levi’s Stadium. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game, and throughout this entire season, right here at The Daily Norseman!