Vikings With Another Win to Strengthen Playoff Grip
Written by Tony Schultz on December 8, 2019
Just. Keep. Winning. That’s what the Vikings need to do to make sure they control their destiny as much as possible. Today Coach Zimmer, Kirk Cousins, Danielle Hunter, and Harrison Smith made sure the lowly Lions didn’t mess any of that up. We’ve seen in the past when the Vikings have had a game like this that should be a win that they have played down to their competition and blown an opportunity. A few weeks ago they almost did that to the Broncos, but turned that into a historic comeback. Today there never seemed to be any question as they controlled the entire game with the defense holding the Lions offense to less than 70 yards for a majority of the game. The Lions only score came late when the Vikings had a number of backup players in and were playing prevent defense to keep the clock running. The Lions had one drive in the first half that seemed like the referees – the group officiating the game leads the NFL in total penalties called especially in pass interference were trying to keep going on their own. Even that didn’t help as kicker Matt Prater, one of the best kickers in the NFL missed a field goal.
Kirk Cousins continues to be great going 24 of 30 for 242 yards and a touchdown to rookie Bisi Johnson in the first quarter. He has been playing mistake free football most of the season and has been improving each week. Dalvin Cook remains steady with only 62 yards rushing today and a touchdown, but he was spelled often since he had a chest injury last week by Alexander Mattison who played well with an additional 46 yards to keep the offense balanced. The group that has really been exceptional in the last month or so has been the tightends. Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., and even Tyler Conklin have been instrumental in keeping drives going or getting into the end zone. With Adam Theilen out the last 7 games they have really picked up the slack and the offense has adjusted well to the star receiver being out. It sounds like he’ll be back next week and that will be a great addition to the Vikings attack.
The defense was on point all day today. Five sacks were recorded today with Danielle Hunter getting three on his own making him the youngest player to reach 50 career sacks at 25 years old. Jaleel Johnson and Everson Griffen got one a piece to keep the rookie quarterback running for his life. Xavior Rhodes had a better game today and the defensive backfield was keeping the deep ball from being a factor in the game. Harrison Smith got a pick to end a drive and Andrew Sendejo sealed the win with a pick in the end zone to have the 20-7 score hold up. The Lions are a mess, but that doesn’t take away the fact the Vikings dominated this game from the first kickoff. Remember when Stephon Diggs was mad at the team earlier this year? Yeah, that’s not an issue anymore as he has stepped up and played up to his talent. With Thielen out he has been double teamed regularly and has found ways to get open with help of the coaching staff.
The Vikings head to L.A. next week to play the Chargers who are also reeling at 4-8 this year when many had them slated as a Super Bowl contender. Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback and can still sling the pigskin, but he is not very mobile so it will be up to the defense to get to him early and often. The Chargers are 9th in defensive standing, but are 22nd in offense and 27th in rushing. Melvin Gordon has only gone over 100 yards once this year and hasn’t been much of a factor. The Vikings can’t have a letdown or look ahead to the division matchup against the Packers the next week and put themselves in a precarious position. Having the Rams lose at the Sehawks tonight makes things easier and if the Bears somehow surprise the Packers next week that Monday night game at US Bank Stadium will be absolutely huge. Keep winning and let the rest sort itself out.