The Vikings Have A Superpower That Everyone Is Overlooking

Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

When the Minnesota Vikings were getting off to a fast start, I asked what trait made them special.

In previous years when the Vikings have been contenders, they’ve had a dominant trait that defines them. The 1987 Vikings peaked at the right time. The 1998 Vikings had a historically good offense. The 2009 Vikings had Brett Favre. The 2017 Vikings had a historically good defense.

At the time, I theorized that this team’s special trait is that they never give up. But that seems too simple.

A 33-30 win over the Buffalo Bills seemed to be the moment that defined this team, but it never seemed to stick. Even Saturday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts – which required an NFL-record 33-point comeback – doesn’t feel like the defining moment for this squad.

The reality is that this team has a superpower, and it’s so good that not everyone can see it.

A scroll through the morning talk shows will show you exactly what I mean. The folks at ESPN, NFL Network, and other outlets have spent hours grinding tape to see what makes a good football team. When they look at some of the teams in the NFC, they see exactly what they’re looking for.

To them, a Super Bowl contender should have a great offense like the Philadelphia Eagles. They should have a dominant defense like the San Francisco 49ers. They should have a championship pedigree like the Dallas Cowboys, well as a tactical mastermind at the controls.

It doesn’t stop with the NFC. ESPN’s Dan Graziano recently labeled the Vikings as PRETENDERS (Yes, in all caps) because of their close margin of victory and their plus-two point differential this season. Later in the article, Graziano calls the Miami Dolphins CONTENDERS because of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and their ability to run the ball.

To these pundits, great football is a violent ballet. But that’s not the case for Kevin O’Connell’s Vikings, who have won games with the grace of a no-holds-barred street fight.

The Vikings rank eighth in the NFL in points scored, but there are times when they get in their own way. Saturday’s game against the Colts was a prime example, where they went three-and-out on their opening drive, watched Dalvin Cook fumble on the second drive, and had Jalen Reagor run the wrong route on a pick-six.

The defense has also been a talking point, ranking 28th in points allowed and last in yards allowed. They run a predictable scheme, have constant communication breakdowns, and have talent on the back end of their careers. The Colts took advantage of this by marching into field goal range less than 20 seconds into the game and using their short field position to build a 33-point advantage.

In previous years, these things would have defined the Vikings. It was a common complaint among fans. If a single thing went wrong around Kirk Cousins, Minnesota would crumble like a house of cards, and it usually meant they were watching the playoffs at home.

However, this team seems impervious to its own flaws. Sure, they know they need to get better, but it’s almost like they thrive at the sight of their own blood. Instead of trying to become Bret Hart – the WWE Hall of Famer known as “The Excellence of Execution” due to his technical ability in the ring – the Vikings have become Mick Foley, an atypical brawler willing to achieve victory by way of steel chairs, barbed-wire baseball bats, and thumbtacks.

Sometimes, it results in getting their ass kicked. (See the Dallas game.) Other times, it results in what we saw on Saturday afternoon.

Cousins was the most glaring example, running into the phone booth and turning into Kirko Chainz just in time for a comeback. His 460 yards and four touchdowns used to be the stuff that his infamous stat-padding games were made of. But on Saturday, it was another step toward a completely revitalized quarterback.

A pair of interceptions used to destroy Cousins. Now he’s as carefree as Len Dawson ripping a heater at halftime of the Super Bowl. Cousins was even in a jovial mood after the game approaching the podium in a custom-made Vikings blazer.

Seth “Freaking” Rollins? Nope. It’s Kirk “Frickin’” Cousins.

It also starts with Patrick Peterson, who challenged the offense to score five straight touchdowns to get the win. The comment was met with confusion, but it was enough to get the offense going and eventually tie the game in the fourth quarter.

It also came up huge for Greg Joseph, who knocked down five extra points to aid the comeback. After missing five extra points earlier in the season, Joseph converted without any issue against the Colts and hit the game-winner in overtime.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Vikings had won, and it let out a rash of emotions that had O’Connell on the verge of tears during his postgame speech.

“When I tell you guys I love you, I mean it,” O’Connell said. “From the f*****g bottom of my heart, and that will never change. I will ride with this group until they don’t let us play any more f*****g games.”

Could the Vikings tune up some of their flaws? Absolutely. But that’s not who they are. They’re an imperfect team willing to fight their way to victory, which is their ultimate superpower.

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