Snap Reactions after Vikings-Steelers

Former Vikings CB Lands with Dolphins
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

From a suggestion by a reader, we author a “snap reactions” weekly piece detailing thoughts and analysis after a Minnesota Vikings game.

This will be off-the-cuff, a wee bit “random,” and hopefully insightful.

  1. While much of what you will read this week will be frustration over the Vikings nearly coughing away another lead, Minnesota did actually close the thing out — and that’s all that matters. If one disallows any chatter about “what if” on Greg Joseph missing the game-winning field goal in Week 2 because “in the end, they lost,” well, one cannot harp on a game’s “what-ifs” in the near-collapse versus Pittsburgh. Otherwise, that person is hypocritical.
  2. Dalvin Cook’s heroism, gutsiness, and downright mind-boggling performance with two bad shoulders should be remembered in Vikings history for a long time.
  3. Ask yourself — do the Vikings win that game without Cook? Probably not. He and Mattison are emphatically not interchangeable.
  4. K.J. Osborn had more receiving yards than Justin Jefferson. Bet you didn’t know or see that coming.
  5. One of these games — perhaps against Chicago in Week 15 or Week 18, Minnesota will click and finally trounce a team.
  6. It’s a true toss-up on who was the player of the game on defense. Eric Kendricks had 11 tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. But Harrison Smith tallied five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and the game-deciding pass breakup.
  7. Hats off to Jordan Berry for drilling the final punt inside the five-yardline. Last year, that type of clutch punting (or any special teams) was totally nonexistent.
  8. If you care, the Vikings all but knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs. In a crowded AFC wildcard race, the Steelers, at 6-6-1, now have a 9% chance to make the January dance, per FiveThirtyEight.com.
  9. On the other hand, the Vikings climbed about 10% in the same metric, now possessing 35% odds to reach the NFC postseason.
  10. When players like Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce, and Dalvin Tomlinson return to the lineup — as they did on Thursday night — it’s fascinating and unsurprising how much of an impact star-studded players make. Ordinarily, when one mentions a litany of injuries, the statement is met with, “Bah humbug. Those are excuses. Every team is injured.” As it turns out — playmakers matter.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).