The Minnesota Vikings’ road back to .500 started with a matchup against a good Baltimore Ravens team led by Lamar Jackson. Everything was going according to plan when Kene Nwangwu returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 24-10 lead.
Unfortunately, another second-half collapse meant the Vikings needed a last-second drive to tie the game and force overtime. Kirk Cousins obliged that request, connecting with Adam Thielen on an endzone fade to tie it up. But the Vikings weren’t able to capitalize on an Anthony Barr interception in overtime. They ended up falling to the Ravens after Justin Tucker drilled a 36-yard field goal to end it.
Here are five numbers that tell the story of the Vikings’ loss to the Ravens.
If it felt like the Ravens had the ball almost all game, it’s because they did. They possessed the ball for 46:04, including overtime. Baltimore was able to sustain long drives in the second half, keeping Cousins and Co. on the sideline.
The Vikings had the ball for only 23:40, just over half of the 46:04 mark. With the offense parked on the sideline, they were unable to maintain the rhythm they had in the first half. Minnesota suffered quick three-and-outs, and the defense was worn out after staying on the field for so long.
The Vikings’ defense had it rough. They gave up a total of 500 yards during their extended time on the field. The Ravens’ offense was able to keep them off-balance, creating a 50/50 split in running and passings yard.
The Ravens were able to run the ball with relative ease towards the end of the game, getting what felt like five to six yards on every run. They were able to push the defensive line back and punch the ball up the gut.
And Hollywood Brown’s speed proved to be too much. He had a few crucial grabs, including a screen pass that he took for 18 yards on a third-and-15 while the Ravens were down by seven in Vikings territory.
The Vikings’ defensive line was impressive in their first game without Danielle Hunter this season, recording 23 pressures. Hunter has a torn pec that will sideline him for the entire season. Entering the game, questions surrounded this defensive front. Would they be able to create pressure? Or would we see a repeat of last season where they were unable to do much of anything?
This defensive line stepped up as a unit. Five different members recorded multiple pressures. Everson Griffen led the unit with six, followed by Kenny Willekes and Armon Watts with five. With the secondary missing Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, and Harrison Smith, the line will need to create more pressure in the coming weeks if the Vikings want to get back on track.
Kris Boyd had a tough time filling in for Breeland this week, allowing 92 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Boyd was picked on all afternoon by Jackson, who targeted him 12 times. With the secondary being as banged up as they are, Boyd will need to step up if he is called on to fill in for a few weeks while Breeland and Peterson recover.
Safety Camryn Bynum had a better day. He only allowed 23 yards on three catches while recording an interception in his debut as a starter. The Vikings gave Bynum short notice to fill in for Harrison Smith, who missed the game after being a last-minute addition to the COVID reserve list.
A lot has been made about how unproductive the rookie class has been so far. But Darrisaw has become a potential franchise left tackle and Bynum had a solid debut, so there might be some hope for how this rookie class could look in the long term.
Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen combined for just five catches despite facing the 32nd-ranked pass defense. After the frustration from last week when Jefferson saw only five targets and two catches, you would have thought that Klint Kubiak would make an effort to get the ball in the hands of these two elite playmakers more often.
The afternoon started out promisingly with Jefferson getting behind the defense for a 50-yard score on the first drive of the game. Nothing happened after that. He only had four more targets the entire afternoon.
There needs to be an effort from Kubiak to manufacture plays that give these playmakers the ball so they can make something happen. They also need to push the ball down the field and stretch out these secondaries that have struggled against elite wideouts earlier this season.