by Mike Marek
The Vikings entered their Friday afternoon Christmas Day contest against the New Orleans Saints with their playoff hope on life support. When the game concluded, the doctor proclaimed them dead. Santa, however, still decided to visit to give out some presents.
The Vikings put up a stinker of a performance on defense. From the first snap on, you could tell it was going to be a long afternoon. They had little to no chance of stopping Alvin Kamara and his illegal red and green cleats as they bounded up and down the Superdome turf like one of Santa’s reindeer for a league record setting six touchdowns. The Saints had their way with the Vikings defense with whatever they wanted to try. If it wasn’t for a couple of errant Drew Brees passes, they may have been able to score 70. Santa’s gift for the defense: a train car full of coal.
The coaching in this game was almost as bad as the defense. The defense appeared to come in underprepared, and the offense, while they performed well, may have been better off playing keep away from the Saints. Zimmer also had some very questionable clock management at the end of the first half which gave the Saints a touchdown and prevented the Vikings from adding to their score. This led to a rightfully fired up Kirk Cousins, who was visibly upset with the decision making by Zimmer and crew. Santa’s gift to the coaches: an offseason to think about your errors.
The bright spot of the day was the Vikings offense which looked capable of keeping up with the high-octane Saints for at least three quarters. They ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, when the Saints decided to assert control by putting up an additional three touchdowns. Dalvin Cook continued to run amok, Jefferson, Thielen, and Smith are performing at best-in-class levels. Kirk Cousins looked sharp when he had time, and all things combined, the offense managed to keep the Vikings in the game. Santa’s gift to the offense: two to three new offensive lineman in the draft.
Dan Bailey continued his struggles with a missed extra point. He has been at the bottom of the league in terms of accuracy during the last three weeks, and he can’t seem to kick the ball out of the end zone anymore. Santa’s gift to Dan Bailey: an early retirement.
This has been a topsy turvy year for Vikings fans. The team starting the year on an awful losing streak which made many lose hope early. They followed this up by catapulting themselves back into relevancy and a possible playoff run in December. This led to having the rug pulled out from underneath them just as it looked like they would have a chance to make something of the season. Ultimately, Santa decided to take pity on Minnesota Vikings fans and give them a merciful gift, an end to a lost season, in a lost year.