VIKINGS IMMUNIZED TO PACKERS COMEBACK IN ANOTHER CLOSE GAME
Written by Tony Schultz on November 21, 2021
A win is a win, is a win, is a win. That’s all that matters in the end. Usually at the end of a Packers game if you leave any time on the clock Aaron Rodgers will drive down the field and win the game. It’s like death and taxes. Today the Vikings got an amazing score from Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson with more that 2 minutes on the clock and my first thought was, “You just fell into the Rodgers trap for him to go down and tie the game up”. It wasn’t a long drawn out drive that ate up the clock though as the Vikings let Rodgers hit Equanimeous Saint-Brown on the first play of the possession for a touchdown. In a twist of storytelling the new story was leaving too much time on the clock for Kirk Cousins who aggressively attacked the Packers defense with a mix of passes and Dalvin Cook runs got the ball down to the 5 yard line. Luckily an aggressive downfield pass that was almost intercepted by the Packers was ruled incomplete after a review and it kept the drive alive. Another smart play was by Dalvin Cook as he was breaking tackles for a possible touchdown. Instead as he was about to get hit he covered up the ball with 2 hands and went down to the turf to not have a turnover and to keep the clock running. Kirk took a couple knees and then the second story of the year, a Vikings kicker missing to win the game came into play. After the traditional “ice the kicker” timeout by Green Bay, Vikings kicker Greg Joseph came out and drilled the final field goal with no time left for any Rodgers heroics.
The start of the game started out interesting as both Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson had big plays to lead their respective teams to field goals. Then the Vikings had a drive with a huge throw by Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson that put them at the one yard line that allowed Dalvin Cook to walk in. Greg Joseph then missed the extra point…. *painful sigh. Good news: Packers kicker Mason Crosby has been having a difficult year kicking as well and he missed on the Packers net drive. On the next drive the Vikings got Adam Thielen in the act by hitting him at the 3 yard line and he deked a defender out. Up 16-3 you felt some slight relaxation with the nice lead, but we all know that Rodgers doesn’t wilt and go away that easy as he drove down and got another touchdown. The Vikings came out in the 3rd quarter and went right back to work and drove for another big Cousins to Jefferson touchdown strike. Rodgers answered with a Davante Adams in the back middle of the endzone strike. With a stalled drive by the Vikings the Packers had Rodgers hit Adams for another touchdown and take their second lead of the game. This is where the Vikings have fallen apart a bit this year, but they drove for another score and had the ridiculous pass from Cousins under immense pressure to Jefferson to take back the lead. As I mentioned before the Packers tied it up on their next play, but that was the last time they had the ball and Kirk and Greg Joseph became the heroes of the game.
Here are some things I took from this win without going too crazy. First off the offensive line has been playing much better the last few weeks. Mason Cole had been filling in for Garret Bradbury at center and has played very well. Cousins has had many clean pockets to work with and hasn’t been nervous in the pocket much at all. Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak has been making more aggressive play calls in these last two games and Kirk has been more aggressive pushing the ball down the field and getting the ball to his wide receivers. There can be more risk of a turnover with those play calls, but it keeps the defense more honest and makes the play action more reliable. Not having Danielle Hunter in the game has been a big loss, but the defense has really stepped up without their defensive superstar. The defensive backfield has been a big part of that with better coverage downfield allowing player like Everson Griffen to put on pressure along with players like DJ Wonnum and James Lynch to get push upfield. I can only imagine how much better the defense would have looked with Hunter in the game today. The question becomes can the Vikings keep this up? Also, let’s just stop the Kirk Cousins bashing because he has driven this team to game winning and potential game winning scores all season long and he did it again to day. Twice! Mike Zimmer seems to be loosening the reins a bit on the offense and making defensive change ups to fit his personnel which could cause things to swing back to them winning more games than losing them. Maybe those early close games might have conditioned the team to fight back more in these close games coming up late in the season and make sure they are wins versus loses. There is a lot of games left this season for the Vikings to prove if this is the trend and not just an aberration. The Vikings are at the bottom of the playoff race, but they are alive. They just have to seize the opportunity to take it and put the momentum back in their hands.