12 Snap Reactions after Commanders-Vikings
From a suggestion by a reader, we continue our “snap reactions” weekly piece detailing thoughts and analysis after a Minnesota Vikings game.
This will be off-the-cuff, a wee bit “random,” and hopefully insightful.
The Vikings climbed to 7-1 atop the NFC North after a suspenseful win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9. Minnesota downed Washington 20-17.
1 – For the first time in 2022, the Vikings feel like a Super Bowl contender. They didn’t win with a convincing scoreboard showing, but the grit needed to systematically come back from down 17-7 in the 2nd Half was impressive.
2 – The Vikings have won six in a row. The Packers have lost five in a row. That’s how a division is lost for the incumbent — in this case, Green Bay. The Packers short-term trajectory isn’t the only thing in trouble. These next eight games may be it for Aaron Rodgers.
3 – Kevin O’Connell couldn’t get the running game going — that’s usually a death sentence for the Vikings — but his team won anyway. That’s the signal of a team whose ceiling is more than a fringe wildcard sniffer.
4 – Five days after the trade, T.J. Hockenson was available to play for Minnesota — and was targeted more than any Vikings tight end since 2018. The next half-decade with him will be incredibly fun. In fact, one might ask, “How would the Vikings have won that game without Hockenson?”
5 – The Vikings wide receivers had opportunities to blow this game open, but drops were too prevalent. And drops disappeared for a couple of weeks after they were a problem to start the season. We shall see what Week 10 looks like in this regard.
6 – Sunday was a case study on vintage Taylor Heinicke. He’s good and gritty for about 2-3 drives per game, and then the rest is just a mixed bag of mediocrity.
7 – The Vikings offensive line was dominated in Week 9. It was almost as if Cousins had so much experience under siege from 2018 to 2021 — that he was fully prepared for the moment when his trenches let him down for the first time in 2022.
8 – Akalyeb Evans was magnificent, stepping in for Cameron Dantzler after an ankle injury. Evans is a rookie, a fan favorite on social media, and he was simply marvelous on Sunday. Before Sunday, Minnesota felt skimpy via cornerback depth, but Evans may taper those fears.
9 – Kirk Cousins’ gutsiness to bounce back after getting the wind knocked out of him — inside his former team’s house — was tremendous and a testament to his fortitude. Toughness is a totally unsung tool in his repertoire.
10 – Danielle Hunter proved yet again that he is not a man who “struggles with a 3-4 defense.” He just needed time to adjust, and now the proof is in the pudding.
11 – Minnesota probably won’t beat the Buffalo Bills next weekend, but is a 7-2 record returning home for a humongous date with the Dallas Cowboys really all that bad?
12 – Week by week, the Vikings defense is improving. And it’s now arrived at a point where it’s actually quite good and not totally bend-don’t-break.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).