VT Breakdown: Vikings Hang On to Win and Playoff Hopes

All season long, Minnesota Vikings fans have watched their favorite team build leads of at least a touchdown only to watch them to disappear and lead, more than once, to losses. But never in this season of gain and loss have we seen what happened last Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, the Vikings had a 29-0 lead until there was roughly two minutes left in the third quarter—and then the game changed.

Then Kirk Cousins threw an interception (a nice throw that tipped off the hands of Justin Jefferson) and the game changed. That was two touchdowns in two minutes and 22 seconds.

Then the Vikings offense faltered again, and the Steelers put together another quick drive and had three touchdowns in five minutes time. The game had clearly changed.

The Vikings were on the verge of losing the biggest lead in NFL history, which is a thing the Vikings have done time again in the past—being on the wrong side of some of the biggest and most embarrassing plays or games in NFL history. But they didn’t lose that lead.

The Steelers scored another touchdown and threatened to score a fifth to tie up the game as time ran out, but that never happened (Cousins threw a beautiful 62-yard touchdown pass to KJ Osborn and the game changed back momentarily). The Vikings never gave up that 29-0 lead, completely, as they won 36-28 and kept themselves alive in the playoffs for another week.

I guess that’s a good thing.

So, what are we to make of these Vikings, who can’t seem to hang onto a lead of any size—nearly losing even a five-score lead. Perhaps it is time to embrace these Vikings for who they are. They are playing their hearts out even though, and I am quoting Forest Gump here, “Shit happens.” They fight hard, if not always effectively, each week in attempt to win, which they have done to the tune of a 6-7 record while also finding new and interesting (and dispiriting) ways to lose. Had they lost this game against the Steelers, the season might have basically ended and, after this roller coaster ride—would have been hard to not welcome it.

But Harrison Smith punched the ball out of the hands of the Pittsburgh receiver at the last moment last Thursday night and rather than tumbling to the earth like that dislodged pigskin the Vikings will continue to fight—and that will take place next Monday night in Chicago against the Bears. Never mind that strange things always happens to the Vikings there. Nothing could happen at Soldier Field that will frighten and amaze us more than what we have already seen this season.

And we (myself and Mark Craig from the Star Tribune) are here to discuss it on the Vikings Territory Breakdown. We will recap the mayhem of last Thursday night and set you up for the Monday night madness that is sure to come. Here is some of what we will be analyzing on the Breakdown:

  • Harrison Smith—The rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.
  • Dalvin Cook—There are no words.
  • Justin Jefferson—He got a lot of attention, played okay, but had a few drops.
  • Captain Kirk—had a tough night. He needed Spock, I mean Cook to save him.
  • KC to JJ—it was good but they could have had a couple more TDs.
  • Chase Claypool—What a knucklehead. (Claypool clock management.)
  • Kris Boyd—What another knucklehead
  • Defensive line—How great were they? Danielle Hunter who?
  • Offensive Line—Perhaps we should trust Zimmer to set his lineup?
  • KJ Osborn—Did the Vikings score too quickly?
  • Mike Zimmer—How do you like him now? He called an almost perfect half of football. And then the second half came.
  • Klint Kubiak—Ditto.
  • Cam Dantzler—He is who we thought he was.
  • Too many field goals—First and goal at the 4 in the third quarter and only three?
  • Leadership—Is the lack of it the reason why the Vikings can’t hold a lead?

Why would the Vikings get rid of Rick and Zim? Tell me this is not the most entertaining team in the NFL. Who keeps you in your seat longer than the Vikings? Who makes you drink more of the stadium beer than the Vikings? Who makes Joe Buck and Troy Aikman happier by having a game to call in the second half than the Vikings? These guys are entertainment money . . . for somebody.