Vikings Lose their Heart, Cook and Game in San Fran

In the season of not being able to enjoy success (and not having enough of it), the Vikings lost game and their heart to the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday just seven days after knocking off the Green Bay Packers, one of the best teams in the NFL. They could have certainly won the game, as they responded to nearly every haymaker the 49ers threw their way, but they couldn’t rise above their own mistakes, which once again were too many to win.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins misfired to receivers for much of the afternoon and in particular when he was most needed to be accurate. He underthrew Justin Jefferson in the endzone for a needed 2-point conversion (which was needed to make up for Greg Joseph’s third missed PAT of the season) and he overthrew him when him in the endzone when the team needed to put it in his hands for the game-tying touchdown.

Cousins threw an interception and that cost the team a back-breaking score for 21 unanswered points during a period surrounding halftime (there was the old giving up a score before halftime again). But the team battled back on the backs of a Cousins-led drive (resulting in a six-yard touchdown run by Alexander Mattison) and a Kene Nwangwu 99-yard touchdown return (his second of the season—which is one third of them in the league this year). It got so bad for Kirk, however, he lined up behind his right guard rather than the center in one of the most crucial points in the game—his happy feet got the best of him.

(Speaking of Mattison, get used to seeing him going forward as Dalvin Cook went down with a separated shoulder/torn labrum, so Mattison will be the guy with Nwangwu playing a backup role. Once again, the Vikings return to “we can’t have nothing nice.”)

The offensive line didn’t help Cousins or Cook, and the defensive line (with all four opening-day starters out of the lineup) didn’t do much of anything to stop the run (the 49ers racked up 208 rushing yards). That led the Vikings to once again play behind in time of possession (37 to 23 minutes) and behind in the final score: 34-26. That all means with the heartbreaking loss the Vikings now fall to 5-6 and a game behind the 49ers in the playoff race and tied with Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans for the seventh and final Wild Care spot. The schedule looks better in the immediate future (Lions and Steelers), but that doesn’t matter for the Purple, they allow every team to hang around to decide the game in the final moments. But we will discuss all that with Mark Craig of the Star Tribune on the Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast. Tune in hear what’s up on these topics:

  • JJ has an off day target- and reception-wise. Kirk missed him in a couple big spots, but JJ’s body language after those throw had his inner diva was showing. Problem coming?
  • Adam Thielen: two touchdowns and one pass taken away by bad calls. When the refs stay out of it, the guy makes amazing grabs. How soon after he retires do the Vikings put his number in the ring?
  • Mack Alexander was not great in this game. Is he the guy they were hoping to get back when they signed him?
  • Worst Hail Mary ever at the end of the first half. What was Kirk mad about?
  • 208 yards rushing given up. Not even close to sustainable. Can they hold on until the interior defensive line returns?
  • Kirk’s pass into double coverage gets picked to set up a TD and a 14-point lead for SF. Terrible pass. He got happy feet and forced it into where he shouldn’t have. Do you think Zim said “so be it, after that interception?
  • Kene Nwangwu now has a third of the return touchdowns in the league on the season? Nice weapon to have. How much of him will we see this week?
  • Dalvin Cook left with a dislocated shoulder and labrum tear. Might miss the next two games. The Vikings Seem pretty deep at RB, but that is a blow. No one is like Cook.
  • Refs hosed Thielen on that catch. They picked up the first down on the next play, but I don’t care. The system is broken. No fixing it.
  • Vikings are now in the final spot in the playoff race? How realistic are they?
  • Obligatory Zim questions—did you like the decisions to go for it on 4th (1 of three and two of them were decisions)? Zim hot seat?

On to Detroit to get healthy or get trapped?

On this weeks episode of Vikings Territory Breakdown: Vikings Lose their Heart, Cook and Game in San Fran