Vikings

Instant Reaction: Late Goal-Line Stand Gives the Vikings Their First Win

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina (USA Today Sports)

Somebody had to pick up a win, and even with a shortened practice week due to a COVID-19 scare, the Minnesota Vikings looked more prepared and won 31-23. Minnesota never trailed in the game and did what they couldn’t a week ago: Held onto a lead late. The Texans had a chance to tie the game late but were denied at the goal line after having 2nd and Goal inside the 1-yard line.

HOW’D THE OFFENSE DO?

A second straight impressive performance. Once again, the run and pass were perfectly paired as Dalvin Cook ran skillfully while Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson took apart the Texans secondary.

Cook didn’t have a pair of 39-yard runs like Week 3. Instead, he steadily wore down Texans tacklers with gritty yards after contact and incredible speed to the edge, finishing with 27 carries, 130 yards. His second of two touchdowns in the game was one of his finest of the year as he escaped a tackle at the line of scrimmage, stiff-armed a defensive back and snuck into the end zone.

In the passing game, Jefferson continued to provide big play capability. He averaged almost 26 yards per reception as he went over 100 yards for a second straight game, and Adam Thielen delivered his second 100-yard game as well, scoring a crucial touchdown in the process to extend Minnesota’s lead from 17-16 to 24-16.

Houston looked every bit a winless team in the loss, but the Vikings offense scored 30 for a second straight week — and three out of four is beginning to look like a sustainable trend.

HOW’D THE DEFENSE DO?

For three and a half quarters, it looked like Minnesota’s best defensive performance of the year. But the dreaded prevent defense stung them just when it looked like the game was in hand. Houston nearly erased a 31-16 deficit as the Vikings allowed two touchdown passes — both on fourth down — in the fourth quarter, but the second of those by Will Fuller was overturned upon review, giving Minnesota the ball and the win.

The secondary had no Mike Hughes, no Kris Boyd and lost Harrison Smith to a controversial disqualification in the second quarter, but they did enough. Smith’s absence exposed his backup George Iloka, who appeared culpable on Deshaun Watson’s first two touchdown passes.

The Vikings seem to be figuring something out with their pass-rushing rotation. Yannick Ngakoue was impactful again and was joined by what seemed like a consistent rotation between Ifeadi Odenigbo, D.J. Wonnum and Jalyn Holmes. The Vikings held the mobile Watson to just six rushing yards and sacked him twice, including Wonnum’s first ever. But there wasn’t much pressure late in the game when Watson started picking apart the secondary.

X-FACTOR

Pass protection was adequate — maybe even above average — for Cousins. NFL Next Gen Stats recorded him as having a league-leading 3.18 seconds to throw (as of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s games). His three sacks were largely a product of good coverage and Cousins holding the ball too long.

BIG PICTURE

It doesn’t mean the season is back on track, but Minnesota looked like a football team that will win some games this season. They face a much tougher test next Sunday night at Seattle, but the pressure will be taken off somewhat.

Vikings
4 Things We Learned From the Vikings Loss to the Cowboys
By Nik Edlund - Nov 24, 2020
Timberwolves
Grading The Timberwolves’ Offseason Moves Up To This Point
By Kyle Ratke - Nov 24, 2020
ad_space
ad_space
10K Rinks

The Wild Prospects Who Got Away

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina (USA Today Sports)

Continuing the series in honor of the Wild’s 20th season, this week’s look at Minnesota Wild players past and present comes with some missed opportunities. Last week, […]

Continue Reading