VIKINGS LOSE TO 49ERS IN ANOTHER CLOSE ONE
Written by Tony Schultz on November 28, 2021
Have you heard this one before? The Vikings play a close game overcoming a deficit in the 4th quarter only to lose due to a few flukes and a few missed opportunities. How about this one? The Vikings allow a team to score in the last few minutes of the first half and go in tied instead of up a score. Or maybe this old chestnut? The Vikings squander some great opportunities to secure a win and go home with a loss to a team that isn’t as good. If you don’t know these stories then you haven’t been watching Viking’s football this year. Minnesota traveled to San Francisco today to take on a team that is much like them in that they are also playing mediocre football. They have a very good running game, but Jimmy Garoppolo is not a great quarterback and their defense is not as strong as it was when they went to the Super Bowl. The Vikings had a great chance to go home with a win today, but there were a few things they just could not overcome.
In the first half they gave us a glimmer of hope that a win would add to the Thanksgiving weekend of Minnesota success. Two touchdown strikes to Adam Thielen – one after Harrison Smith picked off Garoppolo from Kirk Cousins was a great way for the first quarter to go. Even when Deebo Samuel ran in for a score it felt like it wasn’t that big a deal because Garoppolo was throwing some bad passes that felt like another turnover might be on the way. However, that never happened. The defense didn’t play completely terrible, but their inability to stop the run reminded me of the Dassel-Cokato run game against Kasson-Mantorville in the Minnesota State Championship game on Saturday. They just couldn’t stop them. That is difficult to do with all of your starters out on the defensive line. Between injuries, Covid contact, and Everson Griffen having a very scary and concerning mental episode this week every starter was nowhere near the field. When it came to a pass rush though, James Lynch, DJ Wonnum, and Sheldon Richardson were doing a pretty good job putting pressure on Jimmy, but they couldn’t consistently stop or even slow down the run game. After the passing touchdown to Jauan Jennings tied the game before halftime you got the feeling that the easy win was now gone. Especially with Kene Nwangwu having a great return right after that to get them in range to try to get a field goal that fell apart.
The second half is when things got crazy. Between both teams there was 32 points scored in the 3rd quarter alone. Deebo Samuel ran in another touchdown and then on the next drive Kirk Cousins threw an interception that led to Elijah Mitchell running in another score. The Vikings didn’t give up though as they drove the field and Alexander Mattison ran in a score, but in Vikings true fashion this year Greg Joseph missed the extra point due to a bad snap. The Niners then drove for a field goal, but that was OK because Kene Nwangwu decided to use the giant hole on the kickoff to take it to the house. The missed opportunity here though was Cousins rushed the throw on the 2 point conversion to a WIDE open Justin Jefferson. The worst part in the 3rd quarter was when Dalvin Cook got tackled awkwardly and ended up dislocating his shoulder. He fumbled the ball but it was due to the fact that he was in immediate pain. In the end the Vikings had a chance to drive and tie up the game after Robbie Gould missed a game clinching field goal, but Cousins just didn’t have that extra accuracy today that he has had in the other game winning drives and the Vikings come home with a loss.
The funny thing is that the Vikings are still in playoff contention and Mike Zimmer is still off the hotseat for the moment. Anthony Barr and Cook both got hurt in the game and those could be huge if they are long term or season ending injuries. Even when some of the missing players come back it might not be enough to spur the Vikings to wins that have any meaning and they are looking at finishing the season as a .500 win team with no playoff game and a midround draft pick that may not be the piece they need to make a leap forward. If they lose next week to the winless Detroit Lions then we revert to the early season speculation of Zimmer losing his job at the end of the season and the figurative white flag being raised by the fans and maybe the team to a certain extent to look forward to next year. With this year’s team though, it will probably come down to the last drive of the season with time expiring inducing cardiac concerns for the fanbase and the team alike.