Is the Vikings ‘Bug’ Actually a Perk?

Through 12 weeks in the 2022 NFL schedule, the Minnesota Vikings own a 9-2 record. Having only dropped games in blowouts to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, Kevin O’Connell’s team has the second-best record in the league. To date, their validity has been scrutinized, but it’s worth wondering if the bug for this team may actually be a perk.

On Thanksgiving night, Kirk Cousins orchestrated his sixth 4th Quarter comeback of the season. Beating the Green Bay Packers handily to open up the campaign and then holding leads over both the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota has come from behind more often than not to close out games. Maybe an organization would prefer to experience more blowouts or cruise to victory, but it’s hard not to see the silver lining here.

A season ago, the Vikings roster was highly similar to where things stand now. One key caveat is the difference in leadership for the locker room. O’Connell came in with an approach that validated players and empowered them to perform. Over the years, Mike Zimmer had trended towards a fear-based leadership style or demanding buy-in without truly generating it. That level of leadership, and the rallying of individuals around a common goal, seems to have become fruitful when it matters most.

Vikings Unfazed by Spanking
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

More often than not this season, the Vikings have faced adversity in late and close games. Despite being an afterthought due to their 2021 results, the players in that locker room believe in each other and are consistently willing to show that. Although the NFL mandates weekly performance to achieve the ultimate goal, it’s hard to suggest that any given Sunday performance is as vital as the win-or-go-home nature that is the playoffs.

Still, for this team to have been tested as they have been thus far, there’s no denying they’ll have faced virtually every scenario come playoff time. Battling back from behind, overcoming adversity, and needing to make in-game adjustments are something the 2022 Vikings should feel confident in being able to achieve. O’Connell had his own learning process take place following an ugly Cowboys game in which he failed to innovate or change. Coming out against a superior head coach and working with what he had, it is clear the Vikings rookie coach figured some things out.

Good Things Happen When the Vikings Win on Thanksgiving
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18), and wide receiver Adam Thielen. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Ultimately, Minnesota has a few bottom feeders still on their schedule. They should look to run away with a game or two in hopes that they don’t need to sweat things late. Either way, though, the end result is all that matters, and continuing to fight through whatever it takes to be on the right side at the final whistle has proven valuable.

There have been plenty of narratives surrounding Cousins and former Minnesota squads that this team has crushed in 2022. To finish off the season with the most important “W,” they’ll need to continue executing at a level where they believe it’s not over until the last whistle sounds.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.