Vikings Win Last Game To End Season
Written by Tony Schultz on January 3, 2021
It’s over. Done! The season that we couldn’t wait for to be here to take our minds off of all the terrible stuff in the world became part of the terrible stuff going on. After last season it seemed like the Vikings and head coach Mike Zimmer could put a few pieces on place and build on their playoff success of last year. Little did we know that a virus was waiting in the wings to set everything in a strange direction. The draft was delayed. Then it was all done virtually. For months of no off season camps or training camps or even preseason games we waited for it to be here. When it finally got here it just seemed to go downhill with injuries and new player Michael Pierce opting out due to Covid-19 and his asthma. The team started out bad and were looking at a top five pick in the next draft. Then midseason they had a 5 out of 6 game win run and things seemed to turn a corner. However, the talent level of this team – especially on defense reared it’s ugly head and they fell apart for a few games and were eliminated from the playoffs. Today’s game was an encapsulation of their season of highs and lows as they went back and forth against a terrible Detroit Lions team and came out with a win. Or was it a loss? Depends on how you view the Vikings draft position now due to the win.
Just to stay on theme, the first two plays of the Vikings on offense saw Kirk Cousins trip, get back up, and then complete a pass. The drive eventually ended in a punt, but it gave fans the thought of, “And here we go again!” The Lions then fumbled the punt and the Vikings got the ball right back. The Vikings found their footing and the offense got humming as the game went on and they engaged in a shootout with the Matthew Stafford quarterbacked Lions being coached by interim head coach, Darrell Bevell. That “interim” tag lets you know how bad the Lions season has gone. Neither team seemed to put a defense able to stop much on the field. Both have had key injuries and with the Lions coaching turnover they have been able to keep their status as lovable losers in the NFC. Picture the gif of Bart Simpson throwing away the “At Least You Tried” cake. Stafford still took the field regardless of the fact he had a badly sprained ankle and thumb injury. He had his normal good to great day against the Vikings and kept the Lions a threat all day. He and wide receiver Marvin Jones always seem to have big games against the Vikings whether they win or not. Stafford stood in the pocket comfortably (because we can’t get a decent pass rush) and even hobbled for a few first downs to keep the Detroit fans hoping for a better season next year. I’m not sure the Lions watched much Vikings film the last few weeks as they didn’t just run the ball down their throats as that has been the Vikings Achille’s heel all year. The Vikings offensive strength of running the ball was put to the test as Dalvin Cook was out of the contest due to his father passing away unexpectedly this week. Alexander Mattison played well, but the Vikings passed more than they ran the ball and Mattison scored the team’s first touchdown on a pass form Kirk Cousins. Cousins spread the ball out well today and threw for 405 yards, 3 touchdowns in the first half, and had 3 receivers go over 50+ yards and hit 8 different receivers. His 3rd touchdown to Chad Beebe at the end of the first half was even somewhat reminiscent of the “Minneapolis Miracle” as had he been tackled the half would have been over but he bounced off failed Lions’ tackles and scooted into the endzone. Kirk even ran in a touchdown on the goal line. The offense did more than enough to win, but the defense just couldn’t seal the deal.
The game was far from over as the Vikings have proved all season long. The Lions immediately returned the opening 2nd half kickoff into Vikings territory and scored on a pass where the Vikings defender fell down. His number was 32 and I literally sat there and went, “Who is that guy?” Answer: Cordrea Tankersley. That’s how bad the Vikings defensive backfield has had to dig to find players. No worries, the Vikings drive down the field on some great catches by rookie phenom, Justin Jefferson and Mattison running it in. The Vikings didn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the game as All-Pro safety Harrison Smith picked off Stafford on their next possession. Embattled kicker Dan Bailey tacked on a field goal to keep the game just out of reach so that when the Lions scored one last time the defense stopped their 2 point conversion attempt so the offense could run out the clock. It got the Vikings nothing but a positive feeling going into the offseason and a lower draft pick instead of a possible top 10 pick.
Justin Jefferson was a bright spot on this otherwise marred season. He is in strong contention for Offensive Rookie Of The Year as he broke records for the team for rookie receptions and yards set by Hall Of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, and the NFL rookie receiving record in yards. He finished today with 9 catches for 133 yards and was the most talked about aspect of the game. That alone may be enough to give hope to next season and where this team might go.