1st Down: Four days after suffering the worst loss on home soil in franchise history, the Vikings showed tonight why this team could be something special. All season long Kevin O'Connell has been "checking boxes", and this was another big one: prime time, versus Bill Belichick, no starting LT, and a non-existent running game. The result? 30+ points and a victory. I think the word "opportunist" can be used to describe the '22 Vikings. Give them an inch, and they'll turn it into a mile. In this game, a 97-yard kickoff return TD kept them in the game when momentum was fully in New England's corner, then a Patriots running-into-the-punter penalty prolonged what turned out to be the go-ahead-for-good drive. When the opponent plays a clean game, the Vikings struggle. But make even just one mistake? They pounce.
2nd Down: Justin Jefferson just continues to make the biggest plays when it matters most. Not only that, but Kirk Cousins also continues to give him those opportunities (even if it leads to a few picks or mistakes along the way). Much like in Buffalo, every time this team truly needed a big play J.J. was the fellow providing it. One one of those majestic grabs, he passed Randy Moss for most yards in a WR's first 3 NFL seasons--with six games to go. One didn't even have to squint to imagine it was Moss himself out there roasting the opposing turkeys ala '98 or '00.
3rd Down: I do have to be a little critical of one area, that being Dalvin Cook (or just the run game in general). I've been noticing all season that Cook doesn't have the same burst once so common to him, but I continue to hope week after week that it returns. A home-run play here and there excepted, that simply hasn't happened. I know the Pats have one of the toughest run-stopping units in the league, but this performance was a little embarrassing any way you look at it. I wonder if perhaps O'Connell needs to take a page out of the Cowboys playbook (Pollard usurping Zeke a bit) and start giving more serious work to Mattison. At some point, this team is going to need a 100-yard ground game to win a key contest--and those have been preciously few thus far.
4th Down: I love how the NFL honored John Madden this Thanksgiving--the first after his passing late last year. I wouldn't be the football fan I am today without his excitement in the broadcast booth (and visage on my favorite video game). Seeing Cousins, Jefferson, and Thielen chowing down on some drumsticks--after Diggs did the same early in the day--certainly gave me a nostalgic flashback to Moss, Carter, and Cunningham/Culpepper doing the same.
Up next: vs. New York Jets (currently 6-4). A nice little mini-bye without any travel. Perhaps time to get some guys healed up and work on solutions to the ground attack quandary. Gang Green has a similarly stout defensive front to NE, though, so expect another hard-fought contest no matter who is under center for them by that point.