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Vikings vs. Broncos Week 11: Five Game-Changing Playsby Eric J. Thompson on November 18, 2019 at 8:59 pm
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images Looking back at the most important plays from the thrilling 27-23 win over Denver. The subheading of my preview article for the game between the Vikings and Broncos last Thursday: Sunday’s game against Denver might be tough to watch at times, but all the Vikings need to do is get a win before the bye and a tough final stretch. I had no idea that blurb would prove to be so prescient on Sunday afternoon. The entire first half wasn’t just tough to watch—it was a waking nightmare for the Vikings and their fans. The Broncos kept making big plays and the Vikings kept shooting themselves in the foot. Specters of the Bills game from 2018 seemed to be floating about U.S. Bank Stadium for the first 30 minutes of the game. A week after the big road win in Dallas, the Vikings appeared to be getting exposed as frauds by a 3-6 team with a quarterback making his second career start. An all too familiar malaise fell over the crowd as they booed their team into the locker room. But since Kirk Cousins and the Vikings have already spent a large portion of the 2019 season dispelling negative narratives, they crushed another one on Sunday: Cousins can’t lead his team to comeback wins. The assumption was that Cousins can only thrive when conditions are ideal. After a first half where the Vikings were out-gained by 170 yards, turned the ball over twice, and allowed three sacks, conditions were anything but ideal. Somehow, the Vikings fought back for their biggest comeback in 27 years and escaped with a win. Instead of stewing over an embarrassing loss for the next two weeks, the Vikings can enjoy the bye and get healthy with an impressive 8-3 record that seemed impossible after the first month of the season. Let’s take our weekly look at the five biggest plays that got us there. Play 1: 1st & 10, Broncos ball at the Minnesota 17. Second quarter, 1:00 remaining. (Shotgun) B.Allen pass short middle intended for N.Fant INTERCEPTED by A.Sendejo at MIN 2. A.Sendejo to MIN 23 for 21 yards (D.Hamilton). No matter how you slice it, the first half was an unmitigated disaster for the Vikings. But this play kept the chances of a second half comeback at “extremely unlikely” instead of “completely impossible.” It isn’t too often that we skip over most of a half before getting to a game-changing play, but that was just how bad things were for the Vikings through the first two quarters. Bad was turning into much, much worse in the final few minutes of the half. Shelby Harris strip-sacked Cousins, which led to a field goal and a 20-0 Denver lead. Ameer Adbullah followed that up with the worst turnover in football—the “krumble.” A kick return fumble right after the opposing team just scored can be completely demoralizing. With a minute remaining, the Broncos had a golden opportunity to go up by 23 or 27. Andrew Sendejo stopped the bleeding as he stepped in front of the Brandon Allen pass intended for DaeSean Hamilton. At the time, the interception kind of felt like a consolation prize at the end of the world’s worst game show. But with how the second half unfolded, Sendejo’s pick proved to be very important. Play 2: Vikings ball, 1st & 10 at the Minnesota 46. Third quarter, 12:46 remaining. (No Huddle, Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep left to S.Diggs to DEN 10 for 44 yards (D.Harris). If the Vikings were going to have any hope of making a monumental comeback, they were going to have to start the second half on a much better note. You may find this hard to believe, but it turns out that throwing the ball to Stefon Diggs is usually a good idea. Diggs was shut out in the first half and was visibly upset about it, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic wrote about in his incredible piece on the mercurial wide receiver Sunday night. But Diggs was involved heavily in the second half comeback, starting with this play. After the Vikings narrowly converted a 4th and 1 from their own 45 with a Cousins quarterback sneak, they went no huddle to try and catch the Broncos off guard. It worked with this 44-yard strike to set up 1st & goal on the opening drive of the second half. Two plays later, Cousins found Irv Smith Jr. for his first career touchdown and the Vikings finally had a pulse. Unfortunately, the Vikings weren’t quite done with the self-inflicted wounds. It appeared that the defense had held the Broncos to a three and out on the following drive, but Eric Wilson was flagged for an offside penalty before the punt. Instead of giving the ball back, Denver was able to milk five minutes off clock and get another Brandon McManus field goal to increase their lead to 23-7. The Vikings were left with just over 19 minutes of game time to erase a 16-point deficit. The Vikings’ second drive of the second half wasn’t always pretty, and it took longer than they had hoped for, but it still ended in points. They slogged through an 18-play, 75-yard march that featured: A 4th & 1 conversion from their own 34, which was most certainly not a dumb call by Zimmer. A 3rd & 14 conversion via Tyler Conklin’s first reception of the year right after a miscommunication led to an easy Dre’Mont Jones sack. Duke Dawson bailing out the Vikings on 3rd & 10 with a pass interference penalty on Smith that was well short of the first down marker. A 2-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook that was made easy by the hurry-up offense that the Vikings were implementing for most of the drive. But the Broncos were ready for the run on the two-point conversion, which meant the Vikings were still down by two scores early in the fourth quarter. The Vikings defense desperately needed a quick stop, and they got it when Trae Waynes stopped Noah Fant on an end around. The tired Broncos defense was forced back onto the field, and the Vikings offense took advantage much more quickly this time around. Play 3: Vikings ball, 3rd & 2 at the Minnesota 46. Fourth quarter, 10:29 remaining. (No Huddle, Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep middle to S.Diggs for 54 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Again: throwing the ball to Stefon Diggs is usually a pretty good idea. Once again going no-huddle, Cousins sold the play action to Cook and rolled to his left, a scenario where he has been deadly accurate this season. This play was no different, as he delivered a perfect deep ball to Diggs streaking down the middle of the field. Suddenly the Vikings were trailing by only three points with more than ten minutes remaining. Could they...actually pull this off? Not if Courtland Sutton had anything to say about it. The Broncos wideout torched the Vikings secondary on Sunday, including this 42-yard connection against the oft-maligned Xavier Rhodes to get Denver in scoring range. Denver had a golden opportunity to go back up by two scores and stave off Minnesota’s comeback efforts. Play 4: Broncos ball, 3rd & 7 at the Minnesota 29. Fourth quarter, 8:56 remaining. (Shotgun) D.Booker right tackle to MIN 25 for 4 yards (I.Odenigbo). You’re on the road with the chance at a huge upset. You’re clinging to a lead but you’re in scoring range. A touchdown here could put the game away and be a signature win in an otherwise disappointing season. And on 3rd & 7, you call...this. Huge comebacks like the one we saw in Minneapolis on Sunday don’t happen very often because they usually require plays from both teams to facilitate the turnaround. With this perplexing play call, Vic Fangio and the Broncos were settling for three points instead of seizing the opportunity to step on their opponents’ throats. Their timidity was swiftly punished by the football gods as McManus’ 43-yard attempt sailed wide right. It took just five plays for the Vikings to take their first lead of the game. On another play action right/bootleg left play, Cousins found Kyle Rudolph all by himself behind the defense for an easy 32-yard touchdown. The Vikings had come all the way back with six minutes to spare. All they needed now was one final stop, which ended up giving us all one collective heart attack. Incomplete pass. Jaleel Johnson sack. Now it’s 3rd & 13. Let’s gooooo! We got this, defense! Royce Freeman breaks Rhodes’ ankles and converts for the first down. Dammit, Xavier! OK, they still have half the field to go. We’re fine. Short run. Denver penalty. Sutton again, just short of the sticks. Another Denver penalty. Now it’s 4th & 6. This is it! One more! Allen to Fant for 11 yards. First down at the Vikings 34. Oh c’mon. Another short run. Two incomplete passes. Denver challenges and loses, but somehow they get two two-minute warnings. Whatever. Another 4th & 6. Here we go. We got THIS one, right? Allen to Tim Patrick just past the sticks. So...um... Phillip Lindsay for five yards. Shot to Patrick in the end zone, covered well by Waynes. Allen to Patrick again, but they’re short by a yard. Yet another fourth down. Only 33 seconds left. Denver’s out of timeouts. I think I’m gonna pass out. Allen converts on a read option. They’re down to the 4. Time’s ticking away. The Vikings call a timeout. NOOOOOOO!!! Wait, what?! Why are WE stopping the clock?! Agggghhh!! Allen to Patrick, broken up again by Waynes. Six seconds remaining. [Unintelligible mumbling] Allen takes another shot at the end zone, this time to Fant. Jayron Kearse breaks it up. Two seconds left. [Silence, as my body is completely consumed by equal parts fear and excitement] Play 5: Broncos ball, 3rd & goal at the Minnesota 4. Fourth quarter, 0:02 remaining. (Shotgun) B.Allen pass incomplete short right to N.Fant. Final play of the game: Kearse did it again! Incomplete! No flags! (Sure, Kearse had a handful of jersey, but only after Fant shoved him.) Game over! Vikings win! [Faints] Although the game almost certainly took a minimum of four years off our lives, it still ended in a thrilling comeback win. With the injuries to key players like Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, and Josh Kline, the bye couldn’t be coming at a better time for the Vikings. The fans could probably use the week off too. As always, we welcome you to vote in the poll to tell us which play you thought was the biggest and encourage you to suggest any we may have missed in the comments.
Vikings vs Broncos - GMG In The Raw!by Luft Krigare on November 18, 2019 at 9:08 am
The Good Morning Gjallarhorn crew gets together after the wild Minnesota Vikings comeback win against the Denver Broncos. Vikings vs Broncos… Good morning Horners! Your Minnesota Vikings were victorious over the Denver Broncos! After an absolute horrendous first half that had the Vikings down 20-0, the team made halftime adjustments and roared back and scored on every drive in the second half to pull out the win. Kirk Cousins stepped up and started to hit Stefon Diggs in the last 2 quarters after Kevin Stefanski went to a no huddle offense. Good Kirk completed his first 4th quarter comeback of his tenure. “Whoa Nelly!” this was one heck of a game. We hope you enjoyed the game and thrive on stress, because this team generates it. LOL. The Vikings now go into their bye week with a record of 8-3. Be safe and GO VIKINGS! Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images Good Kirk Cousins showed up in the second half and led the Vikings to a huge comeback win. On a day when the run game wasn’t producing, using a no huddle offense he rallied the offense with a 319 yards in the air and a 3 TD performance. Yes, applause is deserved. Like, subscribe, and rate us on your favorite podcast aggregator. Share with your Vikings and Broncos fan friends too. Then shout SKOL! As always, enjoy the watch and listen! Fan with us!!! The Daily Norseman and the Climbing The Pocket Network have joined forces to create a one-stop-shop for Vikings podcasts delivered to your eardrums daily. This collection of shows promises to deliver the top independent voices covering the Vikings from every angle. Subscribe below: Click here for iTunes Click here for Stitcher Click here for iHeartRADIO Click here for YouTube Click here for Google Play Music You can follow GMG hosts Dave at @Luft_Krigare and Ted at @purplebuckeye. Unfortunately, Drew is behind the power curve and doesn’t have a Twitter handle… yet.
Cousins, Up-Tempo Offense Give Vikings Huge Comeback Win Over Broncosby wludford on November 18, 2019 at 4:24 am
Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images The first half for the Vikings was about as bad as it could get. 47 yards of offense, multiple fumbles, stupid penalties, and a defense that got torched for 20 points against a backup QB starting his first road game. The 3-6 Broncos, coming off a bye-week, completely dominated the 7-3 Vikings for thirty minutes with their 4th ranked defense, deep passing game, and ball control, holding the ball for 19 of the first 30 minutes. The Vikings play-calling was lackluster, while the Broncos game plan of starting fast, taking shots down the field, while taking away Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs was very effective. All this despite Mike Zimmer banging on his team all week to head-off a ‘‘trap-game,’ with the Vikings looking past a 3-6 Broncos team at home ahead of their bye week. Zimmer reminded his team of the Broncos’ 4th ranked defense, and that they lost three games by 2 points or less. But to no avail. The Vikings, 10.5 point favorites at home, played arguably their worst half of football all season - and bringing out a chorus of boo-birds by the end of the half. Second-Half Turnaround The Vikings began the second-half down 20-0, facing a statistical doom as no team down 20+ points at halftime had comeback to win in the last 99 attempts. The Vikings got the ball to start the second-half and changed things up by immediately going up-tempo - something they continued for the rest of the game on offense to try to overcome a dominating Broncos’ defense. It worked. Kirk Cousins led the Vikings on a 75 yard TD drive to open the second-half, and repeated that result on every subsequent drive - four TDs in all. Cousins finished the day 29/35 for 319 yards, 3 TDs, and a 133.5 passer rating. He also had a lost fumble on a huge hit and sack by Shelby Harris - one of 5 sacks on the day and 3 in the first half. But going up-tempo, Cousins carried the Vikings in the second-half, as the running game continued to get shut-down (Dalvin Cook had only 26 rushing yards), while the Vikings offensive line and defensive secondary continued to struggle. Huge Comeback Victory The Vikings completed a very unlikely comeback after the Vikings defense once again bent - allowing the Broncos a 19 play drive into the Vikings red zone with 2 minutes to go, needing a touchdown to overcome a 27-23 deficit. But in the end they held - stopping the Broncos on their final three pass attempts from inside the 5 yard line as time expired to secure the win. It was not only the only time a team overcame a 20 point halftime deficit to win in the last 100 opportunities, it was the only time in the past 40 years a team overcame a 20+ point halftime deficit by scoring on every second-half possession. In so doing, the Vikings saved their postseason and division title hopes, while avoiding a trap-game loss, and moved to 8-3 going into their bye-week. But it was a big comeback largely due to an exceptionally poor first-half performance from the Vikings. It was a classic setup for a trap game. The Vikings had come off a big win at Dallas, and were looking forward to their bye-week with a few key injured players sitting out. Meanwhile the Broncos had the 4th ranked defense and were willing to take chances with a backup QB and nothing to lose - having been all but eliminated from playoff contention. Vikings - and Cousins - Continue to Dispel Narratives Clearly it was a poor showing from the Vikings, starting flat with a second-rate game plan, poor play calling, and many miscues. But Kirk Cousins, the Vikings coaching staff, and the Vikings offense was able to engineer a huge comeback and win - with Cousins carrying the team. Cousins isn’t supposed to do that, according to his career narrative. But he was nearly flawless (153.5 passer rating) in leading the Vikings to 27 second-half points - including 20 in the fourth quarter. And against the 4th ranked defense. He had been 0-10-1 when trailing in the fourth quarter as a Viking. More importantly, perhaps, Cousins didn’t look like that QB who presses in late game comeback attempts, often forcing balls and committing turnovers. He seemed in command of the up-tempo offense, didn’t force balls or make any turnover worthy throws, while taking what the defense gave him and delivering accurate throws. That experience adds to Vikings’ confidence, experience in those game situations, and to the collective wisdom of the Vikings’ coaching staff. Going up-tempo - something Kevin Stefanski has not done much at all in the past - was key in overcoming the Broncos defense in the second-half. The Vikings have now won six of their last seven, and are 8-3 with five key December games yet to play. They are also one of only two undefeated teams at home (Patriots) with three of those five remaining games at US Bank stadium. Problems Remain But for the second straight game, the Vikings defensive secondary - particularly the cornerback position - got beat early and often. The Vikings CBs gave up chunk plays in both halves. The problem wasn’t in giving up separation, it was lacking the tenacity and finishing ability with contested catches. Trae Waynes was able to make a key break-up in the end zone at the end of the game, but also gave up a chunk play on a trick play where he was in good position to make a play, but somehow managed not to. Xavier Rhodes continues to struggle in that regard, and so did Mike Hughes. That inability to finish may have something to do with confidence, and/or lack of a killer instinct. It may also be a fear of pass interference, which shouldn’t be a concern if they’re going for the ball. Whatever the case, fixing the miscues at cornerback has to be a high priority for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings defense during the bye-week and beyond. Part of the problem with the Vikings pass coverage is a failure of the Vikings pass rush to get pressure consistently. Too often opposing QBs have too much time to make progressions and wait on route development. That often leads to the chunk plays the Vikings pass defense has been giving up. Danielle Hunter is as guilty as any for the lack of pressure, seemingly disappearing for much of a game when it comes to generating QB pressure. He needs to figure that out over the bye week. Getting Linval Joseph back may help. Offensively, the Vikings offensive line and running game have been inconsistent over the course of the past few games. Against both the Chiefs and Broncos, the Vikings failed to get their run game going, particularly the outside zone run. And against the Broncos, they gave up five sacks as well, including a strip sack that was difficult to blame on Cousins given how quickly and powerfully the hit came on Cousins’ blind side. Riley Reiff has been struggling more of late, but the interior linemen can also struggle at times as well - in both run and pass blocking. The worst of them early on - Bradbury and Elflein - have improved over the course of the season, but there is plenty of room for improvement and greater consistency. Climbing the Wall of Worry At the beginning of the season, most pundits pegged the Vikings as a fringe playoff team at best, and most likely of the one-and-done variety. A few were more optimistic, but after a 2-2 start, the specter of the 2018 season loomed large. Four wins later, the worries that remain were can the Vikings beat good teams, and can Kirk Cousins deliver in big games, against good teams, in prime time. The win at Dallas helped ease those worries. Cousins’ comeback performance against the 4th ranked Broncos defense helped in that regard too. But worries still remain. The first is whether they can beat not just good teams, but genuine Super Bowl contenders. The Vikings next game at Seattle will be a big test in that regard. Another worry is can the Vikings, and their coaching staff, elevate their game, be more consistent, and get hot going into the postseason. The Vikings five game slate in December, including games at Seattle, at the Chargers, and the Packers, is a chance to overcome that worry too. But there’s a lot to accomplish. Getting the most out of the bye-week would be a good first step. Beating the Seahawks in Seattle would be a giant second step. But for now, time for players to get healthy, and coaches to add to their collective wisdom. Official NFL Game Summary Here is the official NFL game summary.
Stock Market Report: Broncosby Ted Glover on November 18, 2019 at 3:19 am
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images The improbable becomes possible I had to drive my wife to the airport today, as she’s going on a big trip to India. Unfortunately, we had to leave about 10 minutes before the game started, and we live anywhere from 30-40 minutes away from the St. Louis airport, depending on traffic. So even though I DVR’d the game, I was going to miss a good chunk of the first half as it happened live. My plan was to not look at my phone or listen to the radio, so I wouldn’t get any sneak peeks, and get caught up when I got home. But try as I might, I can’t help but peek when I get a score alert. I have zero patience, it turns out. By the time I crossed the Mississippi River back towards my house, part of me felt like I should turn around, get a ticket, and go to India to avoid watching this game, because what I was reading felt like Buffalo 2.0 from last year. But, being the dedicated professional blogger I am*, and knowing the solemn duty** I have to provide the fantastic content you’ve come to expect over the years***, when I got home I dutifully sat down, and started the game from the beginning. *Ha! **Hahahahahaha! ***Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha! And as I watched, my insides were getting twisted into knots watching this nightmare unfold. And then when the epic second half comeback began, I started to shout with glee. And then my insides were getting twisted again. And then I shouted, both in glee and frustration. Twisting, shouting. Twist...and shout. Isn’t that right, Beatles? Well, shake it up, baby, now (Shake it up, baby) Twist and shout (Twist and shout) C’mon c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, baby, now (Come on baby) Come on and work it on out (Work it on out) Your SMR that finishes stronger in the last five years than 99 other SMR’s follows. Blue chips Kirk Cousins, QB: You might want to come at me with a RAWR RAWR RAWR NO ONE DESERVES A BLUE CHIP BECAUSE OF THE FIRST HALF RAWR RAWR RAWR...so if you are that person, just skip this part. Hell, just skip the whole column, because you are incapable of enjoying the small things in life. Yeah yeah, Cousins sucked in the first half. I get it. But so did the playcalling, the defense, and the special teams. So slow your hate roll, Bubba Bitter. But before you go let me ask you this, miserable person who hates puppies and rainbows—other than winning in primetime, what’s been the thing that Kirk Cousins has been dragged through the garbage over? If your answer is ‘being able to put a team on his back and carry them’, you’ve been paying attention. Cousins did EXACTLY that today, putting up a statline of 29/35 for 319 yards and three touchdowns. And what kind of run has Cousins been on lately? Well, take a look: Kirk Cousins has thrown 177 passes without an interception, the longest active streak in the NFL, and the longest by a Viking in 24 years.— Paul Charchian (@PaulCharchian) November 17, 2019 Yes, he lost a fumble today, his first turnover since his interception that bounced off Stefon Diggs’ hands back in October, but Cousins and the Vikes offense came out in the second half running the no huddle to perfection. How good was the Vikings second half offense? Well, they had four drives, and scored four touchdowns, compared to 47 yards offense, five punts, and two fumbles in the first half. Cousins was the lynchpin in the Vikings comeback today, and without him the Vikings aren’t sitting at 8-3 right now. Stefon Diggs, WR: If Cousins was the lynchpin, Diggs was the spark. He had a key 44 yard reception on the opening drive of the second half, and a HUGE 54 yard touchdown reception to close the gap to 23-20. It capped a three play drive that only took 35 seconds, and there was still over 10 minutes left in the game when it happened. That was a critical score, as it took minimal time, really swung momentum to the Vikings side, and gave them plenty of time to complete the comeback. Jayron Kearse, S: I was chewing on glass on that last Broncos drive—you know, the one went 21 plays, ate up the last six minutes of the game, and ended in the horse being broken. Kearse had at least three pass break ups in the end zone on that last drive that were key in the Vikings escaping with a win, including the last two plays of the game. Solid Investments Harrison Smith, S: Before he went out with a hamstring injury, Smith seemed to be the only guy on the defensive side of the ball who gave a damn about what was going on. Hats off to Kearse for filling the void, but let’s hope The Hitman will be back after the bye. Bisi Johnson, WR: If Smith was one of the few guys showing up on defense in the first half, Johnson was one of the few guys showing up early on offense. He had a career high in receptions, with six today, and was one of the few bright spots in what was close to becoming a gloomy day. Andrew Sendejo, S: Lost in the big second half comeback is what I consider the one play that was the springboard that made it possible. The Vikings were down 20-0 after Denver kicked a field goal, the first half has one minute before halftime...and Ameer Abdullah fumbles the ensuing kickoff. Denver recovers, and they have a GOLDEN opportunity to tack on a TD or field goal and go up either 23-0 or 27-0 at halftime. But on first down, Sendejo stepped in front of a Brandon Allen pass in the end zone and kept the score at 20-0, setting the stage for what was to come IPO Jaleel Johnson, DT: We’re excited to roll out the Jaleel Johnson stock here on the SMR. There weren’t a lot of players that stood out on defense, but Johnson was one of those guys. He had a sack and a couple tackles for loss, and on a day when the Vikings defense struggled, Johnson was one of the few bright spots. Junk Bonds Xavier Rhodes, CB: Rhodes had another tough day. He got flagged for a pass interference that set up a Denver touchdown, gave up two or three explosive pass plays, and got juked out of his cleats on a big 3rd and 13 play by Royce Freeman on Denver’s last drive that makes the game a lot less suspenseful if he makes a play. All he has to do is stay home and direct Freeman inside after he catches a swing pass, and Anthony Barr more than likely tackles him at about the Denver 42 or so, well short of the first down. Ameer Abdullah, RB: I have two questions: Why is Ameer Abdullah running footballs out of the end zone down 20 points on kick returns, and why is he on the field with the offense when the Vikings are down by anything more than three points? Buy/Sell Buy: Biggest comeback in the NFL in 5 years when trailing by 20 or more points at halftime. Comebacks like this don’t happen very often, either with this team or the NFL in general. How big of a deal was this? *1-99 but that's none of my business #skol pic.twitter.com/ib1m5tezVr— jroads ™ (@JRoadsreal) November 17, 2019 Although I don’t recall that Eagles comeback in the article I linked to, I distinctly remember the Tommy Kramer game and the Mike Ditka meltdown game. And I’m not going to forget this game, either. It was epic, and it showed a resiliency in this team that has been hard to find the last couple seasons. I loved it, and I hope we can look back and say ’you know, those two games against the Cowboys and Broncos was a turning point in the 2019 season.’ So, just how narrow were the Vikings chances to win this game? Win Probability Chart for 2019 Week 11: @Broncos at @Vikings with data courtesy @nflscrapR #NFL #DENvsMIN pic.twitter.com/W1jJgiIF3d— Lee Sharpe (@LeeSharpeNFL) November 17, 2019 This is also the rough equivalent of an EKG had one been given to a Vikings fan over the course of this game. Sell: Being down by 20 points to a 3-6 team when you’re fighting for a playoff spot. Awesome comeback aside...how the hell do you let a team this talented go down 20-0 to a 3-6 team, at home? No one is a bigger proponent than I am of the NFL being a tough league to win games. I get it, I do. Losing is one thing, but being on the verge of getting your doors blown out by a rookie coach and a rookie QB in your house was startling. And if you want to be considered a serious playoff team, it’s unacceptable. Buy: The bye coming when it did. I’m generally not a fan of byes, but this couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the Vikings. They can get healthy, regroup, and get ready for an enormously big Monday Night game against Seattle two weeks from now. Sell: Key injuries. The reason the bye is coming at a great time is because injuries are starting to catch up to Minnesota. Adam Thielen and now Harrison Smith are nursing hamstring injuries, Dalvin Cook looked like his shoulder got banged up, and they’re still waiting for Linval Joseph and Josh Kline to return. They gutted out a win against Denver, but they’re going to need to get healthy for their stretch run. Buy: A win is a win. I said it earlier, but it’s hard to win in the NFL. Upsets happen all the time, and narratives don’t always apply. Heck, just this week the 49ers almost lost to Arizona, Dallas almost lost to Detroit, and Mitchell Trubisky damn near completed a pass to his left. THIS LEAGUE IS JUST NUTS! Almost every week, there’s an upset in the NFL, and the minute you take an opponent for granted, it’s going to come back to haunt you. Sell: That kind of game won’t cut it in the playoffs. Coming back down 20 at home against the 3-6 Broncos is one thing. If you go down 20-0 in the playoffs, you don’t win 27-23. You lose 38-7, or 41-doughnut, for example, and it sucks for years. AND FREAKING YEARS. Buy: The tight end triumvirate: The VIkings tight ends are starting to make some serious noise. Tyler Conklin had a key 3rd and 14 conversion during the second half comeback, Irv Smith, Jr., caught his first career TD pass to kickstart everything, and Kyle Rudolph set a personal YAC record when he rumbled for an additional 20 yards on his 32 yard TD reception. Sell: The special teams fumble duo. Between Ameer Abdullah and Mike Hughes, I’m all about the Vikings giving Percy Harvin a ring to see what’s up. So, the Vikings manage to get to 8-3 as they head into the bye. An ugly win is still a win, and with a week off, hopefully the Vikings can get healthy before they head to Seattle for their Monday Night showdown.
Sunday Night Football Discussion: Bears at Ramsby Christopher Gates on November 18, 2019 at 1:21 am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images If you’re going to be watching Let’s do a separate discussion for tonight’s Sunday Night Football contest, since it could have some effect on the Minnesota Vikings’ current pursuit of a playoff spot. Tonight in Los Angeles, the Chicago Bears (4-5) will be taking on the Los Angeles Rams (5-4). Both of these teams currently trail the Vikings (8-3) in the playoff hunt, obviously. If the Rams win this one, they’ll climb to 6-4 on the season, which is still a game and a half behind the Vikings (who will take their bye in Week 12). If the Bears win, the Rams and Bears will both be at 5-5, joining the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers in a group of .500 teams that will be two and a half games behind Minnesota in the NFC playoff race. Neither of these teams is a significant threat to win their respective divisions, so their path to the playoffs is through the Wild Card. With the Vikings pretty solidly entrenched in the NFC playoffs as it stands right now, we can keep track of teams that might be trying to sneak up on them. So, enjoy Sunday Night Football, folks!