I really thought the Vikings were going to win this game. It had all the makings of every other one-score game they had played and won in the regular season - A perfect first drive followed by stagnant offense for a handful of drives, only for Kirk to go into Kirko Chainz mode and start shredding the opposing defense. The Viking’s defense allowed oodles of yards but did just enough to keep within striking distance for the fourth quarter. We even had a miraculous lucky break - a dropped ball on a play that would have sunken the Vikes for good. Yes, this game followed the script that was written for the 2022 Minnesota Vikings perfectly.
Then, somehow, in the final scene, came a blunder that might go down as one of the most disappointing plays in Vikings history: The Checkdown on Fourth Down. Why did Kirk, who had played lights out not only in this game but the entire season, throw it four yards short of the first down on a play that would either extend or end the season? Kirk doesn’t deserve hate. He was the reason, in spite of the defense, that they were even in a position to have a potential game-tying drive. But there had to be something better, right?
The final SMR of this season follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Kirk Cousins - Yeah, I’m still giving him the chip. I love Kirk, and he really did have an amazing game until the final play. Accurate throws, didn’t have any turnovers, and two touchdowns. He gave them a chance to go and score on the last drive. I just wish it didn’t have to end this way.
TJ Hockenson - What a great game by TJ. It really sucks that the two players that played the best in this game were the two players involved in the season-ending play. TJ caught a whopping 10 balls for 129 yards. He picked up a crucial fourth down at the end of the third quarter and stayed on his feet with three defenders on him trying desperately to pick up a third down. If only he could have picked up one more first down...
Justin Jefferson - JJ was on fire to start the game, and the Giants quickly realized they needed to put a stop to it or Jefferson was going to go ballistic on them. They did, which opened the door for the likes of TJ, KJ, and Thielen to catch some passes. Unfortunately, we never got to see Justin take over the game like he did against Buffalo. After a relatively quiet end to the season, maybe opposing defenses learned how to shut him down?
The Offensive line - They really did play well today. Having Bradbury back was a huge boost. Udoh played well too. They gave up zero sacks and Kirk seemed comfortable for the most part behind the line. The run blocking, however, was quite suspect and the run game never really got going.
The Entire Defense - Something just never worked here. The day of reckoning has arrived. If big changes aren’t made in the offseason, we should all be mad. The defense allowed over 400 yards AGAIN, there was hardly any pressure when Danny dropped back, receivers you’ve never heard of racked up yards in bunches, and the only reason they didn’t lose the game on the last defensive possession is that Slayton dropped a wide-open pass. This defense is horrible. They made me very sad today. Goodbye, Ed.
Dalvin Cook - I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but he’s just not worth having around anymore. I’ll miss him.
Jalen Reagor - He muffed a punt that was luckily recovered by the Vikings. I really liked Reagor until the Colts game when he just stopped running his route, resulting in an interception. I think they should look elsewhere for a punt returner next year.
Buy - The Vikings should have won this game.
They were favored by three points, at home, against a team they’d beaten three weeks ago, with an explosive offense, and a superior record to boot. There’s no reason they should have lost this game.
Sell - The Vikings should have won this game.
And yet, the Giants are still a good team. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and there is no margin for error like there is in the regular season. The Vikings were favored, yes, but their defense has proven to be a liability all season long. After seeing what we saw today, I think the 49ers could have scored 60 points on us next week. The Vikings should not have won this game because their defense is the worst in the league. You can’t win in the playoffs with that.
Buy - Losing in the first round is disappointing.
It sucks. It sucks so much. The regular season was so mystifying and entertaining. It brought back the true joy of being a Vikings fan. It seemed like this team was destined to make a run to the title game by barely beating teams in legendary playoff games. But, they were denied the opportunity to be immortalized, beaten in the very type of game they couldn’t lose all season. It hurts, man.
Sell - This season was a disappointment.
While it ended in brutally disappointing fashion, this season still far exceeded any realistic expectations placed upon the Vikings. 13-4 is amazing, winning the North is awesome, winning one of the greatest games in NFL history (against Buffalo) is fantastic, and mounting the largest comeback in NFL history is epic! While we can all be sad about a short postseason, we still need to recognize and celebrate the spectacular season that the Vikings had. It was one for the ages, and anything but a disappointment.
Buy - There should be some significant changes this offseason.
The defense should be completely overhauled. Give me Duke at 10 years / $284mil and let the rest walk. I’ve had enough. The offense has the solid foundation it needs to continue to be competitive. Perhaps a new running back and another good option at receiver. Other than that, I would really hate to see both the defense and offense dismantled and rebuilt. I can’t go back to the Purgatory of the rebuilding stage... I just can’t, Kwesi.
Sell - You shouldn’t be sad about a stupid game.
It’s okay to be sad about this. We invest a lot of our time into this team that we love. Sadly, Vikings fans have a very toxic relationship with the Vikings. No matter how many times they disappoint us, we always come crawling back. But this time, we should embrace the sadness. If this is always going to be a part of the relationship, we should learn to accept it and grow from it. Maybe next year, everyone. Maybe next year.
There’s only one word that comes to my mind when I try to summarize this season: Why? Why did it have to be so good, yet so bad at the same time? Why do we simultaneously love and hate this team? Why don’t the players ever get the recognition they deserve? Why do they deserve that recognition? I could go on and on. Luckily, We have about eight months to talk about all of these “Why?” questions. But for now, I’m going to take a long shower, cry it out one last time, put away the Vikings shrine in the living room, and enjoy watching the rest of the playoffs completely stress-free. Skol.