5 Vikings Deserve Game Balls in Victory over Giants

Particular Defender Turns Back the Clock + Week 16 Takeaways
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The Minnesota Vikings pulled off their 12th victory of the season when the New York Giants came to Minnesota for the final regular season home game in U.S. Bank Stadium. Because the Vikings have already clinched the NFC North, a home playoff game in Round 1 is secured unless the Vikings can usurp the Eagles in the NFC standings.

Like most Vikings games in recent history, the game had ups and downs for the purple team. The team coached by Kevin O’Connell secured the 11th win in one-possession games and is yet to lose one. Some players had an extraordinary game and deserved a game ball for their performance.

T.J. Hockenson

5 Vikings Deserve Game
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Quarterback Kirk Cousins and his tight end T.J. Hockenson had some trouble connecting early in the game, but their connection was impressive after those early struggles. He hauled in 13 of his 16 targets, a franchise record for tight ends, and managed to gain 109 yards and score two touchdowns. One of his touchdown catches was an amazing catch in double coverage when he grabbed over the defender in a Randy Moss-style catch.

Hockenson was heavily featured in the game plan and is a genuine security blanket for Cousins. The quarterback had success in the past throwing to tight ends, especially in Washington with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. In Minnesota, he only played with an aging Kyle Rudolph and backups Tyler Conklin, Irv Smith, and Johnny Mundt. Adding Hockenson might have been the missing piece for the Vikings’ offense.

5 Vikings Deserve Game Balls in Victory over Giants

Josh Metellus

The safety started two games in the season in place of Harrison Smith and did a phenomenal job. He secured a pick against Detroit in Week 3 to seal the win and recorded 20 tackles in the two games combined. Fans thought rookie Lewis Cine was not very good when Metellus started over him, but in reality, he is a good football player.

He is not just a good defender but also a special team ace. In the win on Christmas Eve, Metellus blocked a punt, a play that changed the game, as the Vikings scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive after starting in great field position.

That play put the Vikings in a great position to go up two scores. After the game, Kevin O’Connell revealed that Metellus would get more playing time in the next games.

Justin Jefferson

Record Setting Day Pushes Vikings Past Giants
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Jefferson is a great candidate to receive a game ball every week. This week, he played another exceptional game. He came into the game in reach of the all-time Vikings record in single-season receiving yards and needed only 10 yards to break Randy Moss’ mark from 2003. Jefferson set the record with his second reception.

He was also in reach of the single-season Vikings record for most receptions, a record held by Cris Carter, who set 122 catches twice. Jefferson finished the game with 12 catches which gave him 123 on the year. His touchdown and the 133 receiving yards had a huge impact on the Vikings win.

From now on, Jefferson is hunting more records, he needs more than 104 yards per game in the final two games to break Calvin Johnson’s record set in 2012 and 122 yards per game to be the first player ever with 2,00 receiving yards in a season.

Danielle Hunter

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The edge rusher went up against rookie right tackle Evan Neal for most of the game, and he certainly gave him his “Welcome to the NFL” moment. Hunter is coming off two injury-plagued seasons in which he only played seven games combined.

He had a slow start to his season, primarily because of a scheme change and because of going up against some of the top right tackles in the game. However, since the campaign’s halfway mark, Hunter is back to his former self.

He finished the game with seven quarterback pressures, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Hunter wrecked the game in New Orleans in the 2019 playoffs, and playing his best football at the end of the season could be a big factor for a potential Vikings postseason run.

Greg Joseph

a new viking hero
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Of course, the hero of the day gets his game ball. The kicker struggled earlier in the season but has been lights out since Week 13. Joseph hit 13 field goals and 12 extra points in the last four games.

To cap off his impressive streak, Joseph drilled a 61-yarder to end the game, his second game-winner in back-to-back games. The 61-yard field goal is a Vikings record, five yards longer than every other kick in franchise history. Just like Hunter, Joseph is starting to get hot come playoff time.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt