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Vikings 19, Detroit 17

 

by Patrick P. Marek 

 

Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark. After the Vikings kicked a 54-yard field goal with time expiring for a 19-17 come-from-behind victory against Detroit, the players celebrated on the field like they had just won the Super Bowl. However, in the interviews after the game the players and coaches seemed much more subdued.  Something seemed off … as if the thrilling victory was like a beautiful Easter egg with a rancid yoke. Players, fans, and pundits left the game with more questions than answers about the state of the Vikings coaching staff and season.

Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins didn’t help dispel the general feeling of unease with their post-game antics. After Greg Joseph’s field goal saved the day (and temporarily Zimmer’s job), Cousins grabbed Zimmer’s jacket and appeared to say, “You like that?” Zimmer then forcefully pushed Cousins away. It looked serious enough that a Vikings’ security guard quickly moved in to intervene. Watch the video. There has been a lot of spin from the Vikings front office that is trying to paint this as a little good-natured roughhousing. It’s wasn’t.  Something was definitely up. Either Zimmer doesn’t like Cousins, or doesn’t want the unvaccinated quarterback to touch him. Zimmer’s reaction was violent and jarring … unlike the play of his offensive and defensive lines.

For most of Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings managed to play down to a winless Detroit Lions team that was undermanned and frankly not very good. However, the Lions played with heart and determination and borrowed from the Brown’s playbook from a week ago to keep the Vikings running game (without Dalvin Cook) in check for most of the game. Alexander Mattison scored the Vikings only touchdown when he caught a short pass near the goal line, bounced off a few defenders, and then was shoved into the end zone by his supersized offensive line mates. Mattison ran for 113 rugged yards on 26 carries. Unfortunately, his 25th carry was wrenched from his grasp on the Vikings 20-yard-line, giving the Lions a chance to steal their first victory of the year. Mattison is a great back-up running back, but he doesn’t have the burst or elusiveness of Dalvin Cook. Most of his yardage came on a 48-yard scamper that the Vikings followed up with a Cousins interception.  

Rookie Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak did a better job of keeping Kirk Cousins in check than the Detroit defense did. Kubiak stubbornly stuck to the run game, especially on second down, constantly putting Minnesota in tough third and long situations. This is despite the facts that the Detroit pass rush was mostly toothless, their secondary was decimated, and Cousins was his usual accurate self. Justin Jefferson had over 100 yards receiving by the end of the first half, and then disappeared with the rest of the Vikings offense after halftime.   Cousins only attempted two deep balls Sunday, completing them both. However, one of those was the desperation throw to Adam Thielen in the game’s last seconds that set up the winning field goal.

Kubiak’s play-calling is so risk adverse that it’s actually dangerous. The Vikings offense is stale and predictable, and that’s not coming from the mind of our young offensive coordinator. Mike Zimmer has imposed his offensive philosophy (insert your own joke here) upon the rookie signal caller and has Kubiak so afraid to make a mistake that he has forgotten that you have to score enough points to win. Zimmer is a dinosaur who knows that his days are numbered and doesn’t want his fate determined by newfangled inventions like the forward pass.

The Vikings mantra after the game was: “A win is a win.” That’s true, but this was a stinker against the worst team in the league … a team that is allergic to winning close games, and the Vikings still tried to give it away. Zimmer’s shadow covers every aspect of this organization, and he has been consistently unable to get his teams up for big games.  Zygi Wilf didn’t make his billions being a patient man. Zimmer and Spielman have had plenty of chances to lead the Vikings to the promised land, and have choked away every opportunity. Even the “Minnesota Miracle,” arguably the high water mark of their tenure, was followed by a crushing defeat. This team supposedly has the talent to win, but we never will know as long as the current brain trust is in charge.

And don’t feel sorry for Zimmer when he ultimately gets fired or resigns. He can always pursue his dream of sitting on his front porch every day and yelling at little kids when they step on his lawn.

Stay purple my friends.