Your Minnesota Vikings... Won a game! Amazing. You had to see it to believe it.
Their 21-13 victory over a decidedly bad Carolina Panthers squad, while ugly, finally has this team feeling good about something. While there are plenty of positives to celebrate - Harrison Smith, Marcus Davenport - to name a few, the Vikings gave up another two turnovers, which both led directly to Carolina scores.
First was a 99-yard pick-6 on a criminally underthrown ball to KJ Osborn’s back by Kirk Cousins on the game’s opening drive, which is about the *best* way to start off a game. I didn’t even have my drink at the bar by the time that happened.
Second was another interception of Cousins just before the half, which led to Carolina putting a field goal through the uprights with no time left in the second quarter.
These two plays contributed heavily to an all-too-familiar feeling of disgust for fans watching the game. Thankfully, that was it (for now), and the Vikings even scored a defensive touchdown of their own (!!!) on a strip-sack of Bryce Young for one of the two Viking touchdowns of the second half.
The turnovers this season feel very odd... It’s not just happening to one player (a la Adrian Peterson). For a moment, let’s forget about interceptions and just focus on fumbles.
Kirk Cousins naturally leads with 3 fumbles lost... But he has his hands on the ball every play (and one was caused directly by Ed Ingram, his own lineman).
Four Vikings have lost one fumble this season, those being Alexander Mattison, Justin Jefferson, TJ Hockenson, and Brandon Powell (on a punt return).
Combining that with Cousins’ four interceptions so far this year (not a ‘horrible’ number considering how many passes he’s attempted), and the Vikings have 11 turnovers.
How bad is that? Through the first 4 games of any season since 2000, the Vikings are tied with a bunch of teams for the 6th most turnovers. Here are the five most recent teams to turn the ball over 11 times or more.
- 2023 - Minnesota Vikings (11)
- 2022 - New Orleans Saints (11)
- 2016 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11)
- 2016 - New York Jets (13)
- 2015 - Indianapolis Colts (12)
The last time in Vikings history the start was this bad was in 2010, when Brett Favre decided to start throwing picks again after a season of not.
By turnover differential, the Vikings are painting an even less bright picture. Currently sitting at -8, that’s tied for third worst since 2000. Here are the five most recent teams to have a turnover differential of -8 or worse:
- 2023 - Minnesota Vikings (-8)
- 2023 - Las Vegas Raiders (-9, we’re not the only ones!)
- 2021 - Jacksonville Jaguars (-8)
- 2016 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9)
- 2016 - New York Jets (-10)
- 2016 - New York Giants (-8, and these guys made the playoffs)
- Seriously what was going on in New York in 2016
This Vikings season is also tied for the second worst 4-game start for the franchise since 2000, with the 2005 Vikings at -8. This is only surpassed by the 2002 Vikings... Not great company to be around.
Also, the Vikings have given up 30 points over 4 games (and a game-sealing interception) in drives directly after a Vikings turnover or as a result of a turnover.
Through three games the Vikings gave up 20 points as a result of opponents getting the ball from a turnover or points scored directly from a turnover. The Vikings lost those games by a combined 13 points.
In the week leading up to the Panthers game, head coach Kevin O’Connell vehemently criticized the turnovers, sending a warning to the team. It seemed to work, at least as far as fumbles were concerned.
I’ll call that a small step in the right direction, but with next week’s matchup against the Kansas City Taylor Swifts any and all turnovers WILL be punished by one of the best teams in football.
I’m not expecting zero turnovers against the Taylor Swifts but any particularly stupid ones (re: Powell vs Philadelphia, Cousins’ first pick against Carolina) will turn our already slim chances much closer to zero.