The Minnesota Vikings came into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants needing a win for many reasons, but in my opinion, to put the Stefon Diggs drama behind them. A loss and things could really spiral out control.
It was last week the Chicago Bears were down six starters and quarterback, Mitch Trubiskey was knocked out, so I thought getting a win would be a little easier, but obviously I was incorrect.
The Giants, too, came in missing three linebackers and running back sensation, Saquon Barkley, was out. Would the Vikes be able to take care of business?
The Minnesota defense would face rookie signal-caller, Daniel Jones, who had led the Giants to two straight wins, but has not seen a defense like the Vikings. The Giants also come in as the only team in the NFL to score on their first offensive series each week with three touchdowns and a field goal. The game was set up for a decent challenge for Minnesota. Kirk Cousins has been shredded by the media and fans, so how will he perform?
I really enjoyed the first half, starting with a good Minnesota drive, including passes caught by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The offense moved the ball well, and what I liked even more was seeing Cousins roll out, not just once, but many times, during the game and having great success.
I was disappointed the team ended up with three points on its opening possession, but at least its points on the road. I loved the running game by Dalvin Cook all day and seeing Alexander Mattsion with success thanks to a bulldozing offensive line.
The second Minnesota offensive series we saw the Vikes strike on a beautiful touchdown pass from Cousins to Thielen to give Minnesota a 10-0 lead.
Awesome it’s how we needed to start out.
I watched Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes in pass-defense and they seemed to really struggle at times. I remember Jones having a wide open receiver by 7-10 yards and overthrowing him after the Giants player burned Waynes.
The Vikes got another three points later to go up 13-7, and after the Giants were stopped, Minnesota took the ball and went on the march again. This time, Dalvin Cook took the hand off and makes a Cook-like run and thinking he was headed for pay dirt before Jabril Peppers tracked him down and punched the ball out and New York recovered.
“Oh man, we could have been up 20-7,” I thought.
The positive on this, if any, was the Giants were deep in their own territory, so maybe the Vikes could hold them and get the ball back in good shape. What did I see? A great defensive play call and a blitz that led to a safety and two points. This day seemed to be going all purple as even with mistakes things are coming up roses.
I had mentioned I was concerned about the play of Rhodes and Waynes at times, and with that said, I thought Mike Hughes played a solid game as he had a huge end zone pas break up and two near interceptions.
There were so many positives, but along came concerns as once again there was way too may penalties as Sunday had 12 calls against the purple. I also thought a terrible decision to throw a challenge flag by Mike Zimmer on the pass interference call on Waynes.
“I hope that lost challenge does not come back to haunt,” I thought. And, thankfully, I did not. The three sacks taken by Cousins is too many, but the bright spot was he did not fumble.
There, that is my list of bad, so onto the good:
I start with the much-maligned Cousins, who was, as they say, “balling.” I saw incredible touch passes I still can’t believe he fit into tiny windows. I am a big fan of the screen pass to Cook that allowed him to work in space. The 86 yards receiving in the first half was a career-high for Cook. It’s incredible to know he all-purpose yards equaled 218 against the 211 yards the Giants gained the entire game as a team.
I really loved the game Anthony Barr played with his safety in the first half and the game-ending interception. One of the secondary guys, who I never have to worry about, is Harrison Smith, who once again made plays when needed.
I thought Minnesota’s pass-rush was awesome with four sacks and relentless harassment of Jones, making him uncomfortable all night.
It was great to see the Vikings’ kicking unit stand out, and because of the efficient offense, I believe Minnesota punted one time all game. I loved seeing Dan Bailey go 4-for-4 on field goals, including one hitting the upright and bouncing in. Each week I feel less and less nervous about the kicking, which I haven’t been able to say in quite some time.
I appreciated seeing Marcus Sherels back in purple, and even though he has not had a big return as of yet, I know there is a guy back there I can count on not making the mistakes of fumbles.
It was a great day in the Big Apple and Sunday showed why you can’t assume anything. The Chicago Bears beat the Vikings badly in all phases. Minnesota beat Oakland rather easily in Week 3 and then we saw the Raiders shock the Bears, 24-21, on Sunday across the pond.
But that’s why they play the games.
Thanks for reading,