VT S4E16: Vikings’ Season Gets Rammed by LA

The Vikings once more had their season on the line Sunday at home at U.S. Bank Stadium, but this time they came up short to the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 30-27 (that’s right, another one-score loss). For the first time all season the Vikings did not have at least a six-point lead in the game, yet the result was unfortunately very similar—a dispiriting loss of a game they could have won and their playoffs chances left hanging like a piece of holiday tree tinsel.

The defense played well for much of the game, thwarting an old familiar foe in Matthew Stafford with his dynamic receiver Cooper Kupp. Stafford struggled so mightily, throwing three interceptions (two to Anthony Barr) that all this high power offense could do was hand the ball off to running back Sony Michel, who took advantage of a porous Purple run defense to the tune of 131 yards and a score on 27 carries. Still, Stafford and the Vikings pass defense kept the home team in the game until, perhaps, the second overall punt return for a touchdown in the NFL this season broke the Vikings momentum and severely injured their post-season hopes.

The Vikings offense, meanwhile, was hurt by Covid absence from the get-go (Dalvin Cook) and injuries as the game went to along (Adam Thielen) and they could not muster enough sustained drives to grab the lead. K.J. Osborn did not reel in a potential early TD grab (which turned into a red zone interception) and Justin Jefferson was held in check by tough Rams corner Jalen Ramsey. Quarterback Kirk Cousins made plenty of good passes, including a great one to KJ for a score (he was 27 of 38 for 315 yards), but he, once again, led the team to too many three and outs, including one before halftime that ended up costing the team three points and put them behind the eight ball.

In the end, the Vikings lost another one-score game, a game that was winnable (Stafford seemed intent upon giving it to them), head coach Mike Zimmer saw his team fight tooth and nail and come up short and Zim is another week closer to what could be the end of his tenure with the Vikings.

Mark Craig from the Star Tribune joins Joe Oberle (senior writer for Vikings Territory/purplePTSD) on the Vikings Territory Breakdown to discuss and analyze it all.

Here are some of the topics on tap on after the Winnable loss for the Vikings:

  • Justin versus Jalen—how important is a healthy Adam Thielen when the defense has a shutdown corner?
  • Three turnovers is not enough defense at home to save the game and potentially the Vikings season.
    • Why can’t the Vikings score more points off gift-wrapped turnovers?
    • In his first 94 games, Anthony Barr had three picks—and he two against the Rams. He has played well when he played this season. What does the future look like for him?
  • When the offense gives up another late drive before the half, it not only gives up points but it gives the defense an extra drive to defend and tires them out. The offense becomes culpable in this.
  • Brian O’Neill gets the first penalty of the game—an offside that makes a manageable third down a long one and the game turns the wrong way.
  • What happened to the special teams—a strength all season long?
  • The run defense was very bad yet they had their two best run stoppers on the field. What gives?
  • The offensive line had quite a chore to deal with, but blocking Aaron Donald on running plays should not have been the problem it was.
  • Justin Jefferson’s aggressiveness comments;
  • Anthony Barr’s listless crowd comments;
  • Mike Zimmer’s hot seat—is he coaching his last games with the Vikings? Is Rick going with him?
  • The playoff picture is heating up, and the Purple playoff heart is still beating, but it is on life support?
  • It’s Packers week part two. Don’t expect the Vikings to hold back in this one.

Tune in to check it out this weeks Vikings Territory Breakdown: