ANOTHER OVERTIME GAME, ANOTHER LOSS BY DOWNWARD SPIRALING VIKINGS
Written by Tony Schultz on November 7, 2021
There is an interesting fact about the Vikings and Ravens games: the teams are 3-3 over the years. Every year the Vikings have won they have gone to the NFC Championship game and every year they have lost the head coach has lost his job. The fact is the Vikings have the talent to get there, but the play calling and execution have lacked anything worthy of the title game. So that fact the that today’s game again went to overtime is indicative of the season as a whole. Unfortunately Aaron Rodgers wasn’t the only player out due to not being vaccinated. Center Garret Bradbury had been put on the Covid watch list this week and he is vaccinated, but just before the game Harrison Smith was ruled out and put on Covid reserve. This gave Camryn Bynum a chance to start and he got his first career interception. The Vikings had their normal first half as they stopped the Ravens for a Justin Tucker field goal that was only possible because the refs made a horrible horse collar tackle call against DJ Wonnum after the Vikings recovered a fumble. After that it was all Vikings in the first half. Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for a long touchdown pass to get things going to get the momentum in Minnesota’s favor. The defense was playing exceptionally against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens by bending and not breaking on several plays. They had one big gaffe as there was a pass interference penalty that put the Ravens at the 5 and they scored a touchdown. The Vikings had another successful drive with Dalvin Cook busting off a 66 yard run. That drive ended with Cousins diving over the pile to put another six on the board. Later on kicker Greg Joseph added 3 with a short kick after the Bynum interception and the Vikings went in at halftime with the lead 17-10 and getting the ball back when they returned to the field.
If the first half went all for the Vikings then the second half went over to the Ravens methodically. The first play of the second half we got to see rookie Kene Nwangwu take the opening kick 98 yards all the way to the other end of the field for 6 which is something a Vikings player hasn’t done since 2016. You felt like the season might be turning a huge corner and the talk of Mike Zimmer losing his job might cool off for at least a week with the 24-10 score. However, that is not how this season has gone. After that score the Vikings went back into the mode of not being able to score on offense again with poor play calling and execution. It’s almost as if the team decides to just stop running plays that play to their strengths such as play action and rolling Cousins out of the pocket and go into a cocoon mode to just try to not lose the game which seems to lead to them losing anyways. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens just kept plodding the ball down the field and keeping the depleted defense out there getting them so wore out that they can’t keep up. They got to the endzone on a drive where they threw mostly to their fullback, Patrick Ricard and they just kept running the ball mostly to keep the ball out of the Vikings hands. The only time the Vikings looked like they were turning the offensive corner is when they ran a fake punt to Nwangwu to a successful first down. They then crawled back into their shell and punted the ball back to Baltimore. The Raven ran the ball down the field again and Jackson hit Devin Duvernay for a score and the score is tied in another Vikings game. When Leveon Bell ran in another score you kind of hoped that was it after the way this game went. But no, the Vikings suddenly find a way to wake up their offense, drive the field and get Adam Thielen into the endzone. Back to overtime once again! Which we once again are given false hope as Anthony Barr picks off a Jackson pass and then we go 3 and out and the Ravens drive the field and Justin Tucker kicks a game winning field goal to end out misery.
With Danielle Hunter out for the season and Michael Pierce still out injured it was up to veteran Everson Griffen to lead the pass rush, but to most fan’s delight other players stepped up as well. DJ Wonnum was playing very steady, as has James Lynch the last few weeks, but the real spark seemed to be coming from second year player Kenny Willekes who was constantly around Lamar Jackson moving him out of the pocket and pressuring his throws. Along with Nwangwu this was the rare bright spot in this game with the defense once again depleted by health issues this year. That may be where we are at this point, looking to next year and the bright spots to work on because at 3-5 where you lose the game scoring 31 points, winning the turnover battle, return a kickoff for a touchdown, and have a successful fake punt and lose then this year may already be over. The Zimmer hot seat is at a solid 9 after this loss because he’s not closing out with wins and you can hear the players starting to turn their frustrations into blame.