Following Sunday’s game, Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell gave an amazing postgame locker room speech, one that I think resonates with us as fans as much as it did to his team.
This wasn’t easy, all right? We did a lot of things to make it hard on ourselves. But right about that time where you could have said, “Here We Go Again”. Defense, you found a way to dig deep and you make a huge, game-changing play.
If I wasn’t thinking “here we go again” after the 99-yard pick six, I was most assuredly thinking it after Kirk’s second interception at the end of the half, followed (shockingly) by a career-long Eddie Pinero field goal. Later on in the speech, O’Connell mentions the “championship standard” that he’s set for his team, and I think we finally got to see that standard in action in the second half against the Panthers. When they could have said, “here we go again”, they picked themselves up off the mat and continued to stay in the game, with a huge defensive touchdown followed by a big drive from the offense to score what would wind up being the last touchdown of the game. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see if they can continue to show this championship standard against the defending champions next Sunday. Week Four’s Stock Market Report is below.
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Harrison Smith - Was this the best game of Harrison’s storied career? Smith completely took over in the second half, racking up three sacks. The first was a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown, and the other two came on back to back plays, ending the Panther’s final drive. With 14 total tackles, Harrison Smith might have won the Vikings this game.
Justin Jefferson - A pedestrian stat line for JJ would be a career day for most receivers. My personal favorite play of the day came on a free play after a Panthers defender jumped offsides. Kirk tossed up a jump ball to Justin, and after coming down with the touchdown catch, Jefferson immediately hit the “too small” celly in the defender’s face. Glorious.
Brian Flores - Flores called a great game on Sunday. His defense only gave up six points, no touchdowns, and had a score of their own. Bryce Young isn’t a great quarterback yet, this being only his third start of his career, But Flores still deserves credit for calling a great game.
Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers - The guys really got going on the ground on Sunday, carrying the ball a combined 22 times for 135 yards. Mattison and Akers looked like a pretty solid duo, but if I’m being honest, they both seem kind of... slow? Maybe mixing Chandler in too could add the ingredient of speed to the recipe, but either way, if the Vikings can continue to produce on the ground, things will start to open up more for Kirk and the receivers.
Marcus Davenport - Davenport finally got some work in on Sunday, and we got to see why the Vikings signed him in free agency this offseason. He got his first full sack since 2021, and was pressuring Bryce Young all afternoon. A great play that might have gone unnoticed was a screen pass that Davenport didn’t bite on, instead staying outside, which forced the runner inside and into a tackle.
Honestly, I don’t think there were any performances worthy of a Junk Bond this week. Skol to that, everyone.
Kirk Cousins - That was an interesting game for ol’ Kirko Chains. He threw a late pass to KJ in the flat that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown (Kirk also got blocked into next week trying to make a tackle on that play). After that play, he wasn’t playing bad by any means, but also didn’t lead the offensive onslaught that we’ve seen at times in the first handful of games. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Kirk only attempted 19 passes, while there were 23 rushing attempts. They were able to effectively move the ball on the ground, which meant that Kirk wasn’t expected to pass 45 times like we’ve seen in previous games, which resulted in a more pedestrian stat line. The 99-yard pick six was the only truly bad play I saw from Kirk all day.
DJ Wonnum - Wonnum dropped what could have been a pick-six, but then made up for it later with his scoop and score. What if he did both???
Ed Ingram - Realistically, Ingram played well aside from the pressure he gave up that resulted in Kirk’s second interception. But it just feels like we see that kind of thing happen to Ed all the time. He had a great game run blocking, and pass blocking was mostly serviceable. But the question remains, will he continue to start with Risner waiting in the wings?
Buy / Sell
Buy - They need to stop turning the ball over. Things would be a lot different right now if it weren’t for all of these turnovers, especially the four on the goal line. Think about it: In each game, the Vikings have left seven points off the scoreboard because of a turnover at the goal line. Why?!?!
Sell - They will continue to turn the ball over. Okay, we said after the first game that the turnovers are an anomaly that statistically can’t continue. We said it again after the Eagles game. After the third game against the Chargers that featured two more turnovers, including one that ended the game, I began to wonder why I still watch this stupid game. This week, the Vikings turned it over two more times. Call me crazy, but I’m predicting that the Vikings won’t turn it over against the Chiefs... it has to stop at some point, right?
Buy - Balancing passes and runs. This was the first game of the season that we saw more runs than passes, which is a good thing considering they’d been passing 75% of the time through the first three games.
Sell - Opposing kickers hitting career long field goals against the Vikings. Seriously, what the heck? I saw a statistic that NFL kickers make 60+ yard field goals at a 35% clip against every team in the NFL, excluding the Vikings. Against the Vikings, they’ve made 60+ yard field goals at rate of 71%. What did we do to deserve this?
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week for another SMR.