If you’re like me, you’re probably still coming down off of a bit of a high after watching the Minnesota Vikings defeat the New Orleans Saints this afternoon. It was awesome, we all know it was awesome, and to be honest I’m still not totally sure I can believe it happened. I might have to watch the game three or four more times just to be sure.
After the game, a lot of the focus on social media and on the various television networks was centered around the final play of the game, where Kirk Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph for a four-yard touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone. The contention was that Rudolph pushed off of Saints’ cornerback P.J. Williams prior to catching the pass.
It is illegal for an offensive player to extend his arm or arms and create clear separation from the defender. That was OPI. #MINvsNO— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) January 5, 2020
Cam Jordan asked after the game if there was a sense of disbelief the way this season ended: "With the talent we have put together on this team, we had — we have full belief in us. Even up to the last second, we figured the ref was going to come in and be a ref. It’s a joke."— Luke Johnson (@ByLukeJohnson) January 5, 2020
By “be a ref,” Cameron Jordan obviously meant “bail us out,” but I digress.
I’m sure this debate will continue for at least the next couple of days, and the Saints will propose a mind-numbingly stupid and potentially league-crippling rule change this offseason or file a lawsuit against someone or God knows what else.
But the debate over the final play should not overshadow the larger point of Sunday’s game in New Orleans, and that point is this:
On Sunday, January the Fifth, in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty, the Minnesota Vikings went into the Superdome and defeated the New Orleans Saints not because of one officiating call, but because for four quarters they were the superior team in every measurable way.
Kirk Cousins was, by far, the best quarterback on the field on Sunday afternoon. He went into the house of alleged “GOAT” quarterback Drew Brees and outplayed him in every meaningful way. Brees was directly responsible for both of New Orleans’ turnovers on the afternoon, with an interception and a lost fumble. Cousins was responsible for zero turnovers on the day, and made plenty of plays when he needed to.
Oh, and that long pass he threw to Adam Thielen to set up the winning score? Biggest throw of his entire damn life. . .Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Michigan State University, Holland Christian High School, wherever. That was a big time throw for a guy that consistently gets ripped for not being big time, and as Ted said in the Stock Market Report, there is nobody on this entire roster I’m happier for right now than Kirk Cousins.
Bad quarterbacks don’t hit that throw, by the way. Just sayin’.
But it wasn’t just Cousins. The great Alvin Kamara? He was the second-best running back on the field on Sunday, because he damn sure wasn’t better than Dalvin Cook.
Record-setting wide receiver Michael Thomas? I had to check the box score to make sure he even played. It turns out that both Michael Thomas and Adam Thielen had seven catches on Sunday. One of those two guys had 143 yards on their seven catches, and the other one was Michael Thomas. With the way Thomas and Kamara both acted after the Minneapolis Miracle game a couple of years ago, it certainly was awesome seeing them come up so incredibly small on Sunday afternoon.
And coaching? Boy howdy, let’s talk about coaching, shall we?
Throughout the course of this week, there were all sorts of HOT TAEKS on social media that Zimmer should be fired, traded to the Dallas Cowboys, or shot out of a cannon. . .depending on who you asked. Deion Sanders, who has not hidden his respect for Zimmer in the past, asked Zimmer if it affected him.
“Truth...? Sometimes it bothers me, yeah... I mean, we won 10 games this year. I’ve won 60% of my games in 6 years, 3rd winningest coach in #Vikings history.. and I have to listen to this crap.” - Zim pic.twitter.com/bS8T9zJ9GC— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) January 6, 2020
So yeah, he heard what was being said, and on Sunday afternoon he went out there against alleged super duper uber genius Sean Payton. . .that smug, arrogant, cheating jerkoff. . .and outcoached him at every single turn.
That started in the first quarter where the Vikings brought out something that I’m quite sure we hadn’t seen all year prior to today, or very sparingly if we had. In an obvious passing situation, the Vikings’ front four put Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter at the defensive tackle spots and put Ifeadi Odenigbo and Stephen Weatherly on the outside. Payton had no answer for it, and neither did the Saints.
This spin move pic.twitter.com/9q6uhT61PI— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 5, 2020
The Vikings’ front four whooped up on the Saints’ vaunted offensive line all afternoon, and that’s exactly what they needed to do on a day where they were one twisted ankle away from having to pull people out of the stands to play cornerback.
The New Orleans Saints didn’t respect the Minnesota Vikings. Not even a little bit. They probably figured that they were simply going to show up, toss their helmets out onto the field, win this game by three touchdowns and coast into Green Bay for the Divisional Playoffs. They apparently heard all the talk that, despite being the #3 seed in the NFC, that they were probably the best team in the playoffs and the odds-on favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIV.
But they don’t have to worry about that now, do they? And the reason that they don’t have to worry about it has nothing to do with one play. It has to do with the Minnesota Vikings, led by “notorious choker” Kirk Cousins and “can’t get it done” Mike Zimmer, walked into the Superdome on Sunday afternoon and were the better football team for sixty-plus minutes.
Don’t let the noise distract you from the facts.