VT Breakdown: Vikings Defense Breaks Down in Motor City

My daughter, Paige, (who gave me the Jets tickets last weekend) is a nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis and she reports a spate of twisted ankles and knee injuries since last Sunday. It appears the number of Vikings fans jumping off the Purple bandwagon has resulted in an epidemic of lower body injuries. (Just kidding, she is on vacation, so we have no actual numbers.) But it’s not far from the truth. The Vikings were handled by the lowly Detroit Lions (who are on the rise) by a score 34-23 rather than racing to a playoffs-clinching victory against their (heretofore) perennial doormats. As a result, the bandwagon itself may be looking for an offramp from those playoffs—which although within reach, don’t look very enticing at the moment.”

Winning nine one-score games in dramatic fashion this season gave fans cautious optimism about the team’s postseason potential. We all feared that such a run might not be sustainable for the rest of the regular season and certainly in the playoffs. But what we found to not be sustainable is the Vikings defense. No pass rush to hurry and unsettle Lions QB Jared Goff. No secondary (particularly without the services of Harrison Smith) or pass coverage to speak of to stop the Lions over the middle of the “shell” on third downs. And blown coverages deep resulting in big scores for a Lions team that just won its fifth game in a row. This type of play is not sustainable within a game, final month of the regular season or into the playoffs, where defenses still have a big say in what happens in championship football.

The offense played good enough to win. The defense did not. And the Special Teams did not help. That wobbly three-legged stool will not hold up next month and won’t hold up next week when the Vikings host Jeff Saturday and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, of all days. The Vikings need one win to clinch the playoffs, but they need several more to ensure their playoff seeding and hopefully get the final team (who sneaks into the seventh and last seed of the playoffs) at their home field. This loss, though not as bad as the ones versus Dallas or Philly, also doesn’t portend good things as sit here today.

Thus, we have the bandwagon jumping. Well, the hosts of Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast did not jump off the bandwagon—Joe Oberle from VikingsTerritory and purplePTSD is still riding high, while Mark Craig from the Star Tribune and startribune.com was never on it. But we both will be on hand to discuss it all on the VT Breakdown podcast.

We will examine where the Vikings go from here. They responded well on a short week following a bad loss earlier this season, so here’s hoping they can do it again and rest some of the players in the weeks ahead who are banged up. No rest for the weary—or for those nurses bandaging up broken ankles and torn ligaments. Hurry back, Paige. Some fans are going to need to be fixed up so they can climb back on the bandwagon next Saturday.

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