There were periods in Sunday’s game in which it felt as if the Vikings actually had something going. Not just going in terms of the outcome of their early season match-up against the Titans, but going also in terms of something to build around for the rest of the season. While the latter may very well be true, especially considering the amount of injuries the Vikings have sustained thus far, it didn’t end up being the case today as a field goal within the final two minutes put the Titans ahead for good.
This wasn’t your average 2020 Vikings game, though. Sure, stalwarts like Adam Thielen caught another TD grab, as did “all he mostly does is catch touchdowns” Kyle Rudolph. But there was a period, probably after Kirk Cousins hit rookie breakout star of the game Justin Jefferson for a 71-yard touchdown in the middle of the third quarter, that both the above hopes aligned.
Jefferson was finally part of the game plan, and had a better game in Week 3 than we saw from the entire careers of the first round picks that preceded him at the position in Laquon Treadwell. He finished the day with 7 grabs on 9 targets for 175 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings lead the unbeaten Titans 24-12 at that point, buoyed by a career day for another of the Vikings young offensive stars. Dalvin Cook ended his day with 181 yards and a touchdown. With touchdowns from the aforementioned Thielen and Rudolph, the Vikings tallied 30 points.
It wasn’t enough.
That’s not to say the Vikings player bad on defense, either. Was it up to Zimmer’s standards? Of course not. But, considering how lethal Tennessee has been in the red-zone going back to last season, the fact that they “managed” two touchdowns while driving into Vikings Territory (unaffiliated) nine times, was something to build upon (especially with the amount of practice squad players fielding their defense).
However, Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski was on point for six times field goals, including the 54-yard game winner with under two minutes left.
The Vikings got the ball back without any time outs and after a first down netted a 15-yard penalty, the Vikings had first and 1 from their own 40. However, the Vikings offense from Weeks 1 & 2 showed up, and the Vikings ended up with a hail mary of sorts on 4 & 24 (which was almost completed to Thielen).
Had the Vikings picked up Josh Kline to replace the liability that is Dru Samia, perhaps they’d be 1-2. But, we really have to consider what this team is playing for now that they’re 0-3.
Despite the loss, there was a lot to build around on today’s game. With the defense getting Danielle Hunter back to play opposite Yannick Ngakoue, who is improving with each week, and the young corners getting back to full strength combined with what we saw on offense today (especially when Pat Elflein returns, something I never thought I’d look forward to)?
This may be a team that wins a game or two after all.
After a week of #TankforTrevor, it’ll be interesting to see how the fan base reacts to today’s game.