2 Things Cost the Vikings the Game
The Minnesota Vikings couldn’t repeat their 2022 Week 1 success and fell to 0-1 in the standings. A mixed game in the opener at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was certainly a disappointing start to the season but the team simply made too many mistakes, leading to a 20-17 loss. A couple of flaws guided the franchise to the worst-case scenario.
2 Things Cost the Vikings the Game
The NFL is in their 104th season but the Vikings didn’t start the way they wanted to. Putting blame on a single player or a unit is always hard to do in the sport of football because everything is connected and the offense can bail the defense out and vice versa, and even a wideout can bail out another receiver.
On Sunday, the Vikings had a real team loss. The offense started cold but got hot before slowing down again. The defense had a wonderful first 25 minutes before they slowly reminded folks of the 2022 group from that moment on.
But they all played their role in the loss. There were two main reasons why the Vikes couldn’t celebrate a win to start the season — turnovers and penalties.
Kevin O’Connell’s team committed three turnovers, all in the first half. That in itself is a problem but not game-deciding if the team can force some takeaways as well. But they couldn’t. The purple team lost the turnover battle, and it wasn’t close, a recipe for disaster.
In the last ten NFL seasons, teams were 26-273-1 when losing the turnover battle by exactly three. That’s a winning percentage of 8.67%.
Turnovers happen to every team almost weekly and those of the Vikings were certainly fluky to some extent. The first one was a Kirk Cousins fumble when he wanted to drop back to pass but right guard Ed Ingram hit the ball, forcing the fumble in a friendly-fire accident.
The second fumble was also credited to Cousins, this time an undrafted rusher on a blitz hit him. It was a blindside hit and the passer never saw it coming. He had to wait for the receiver to get open, too long in this case and his protectors failed to pick up the blitz.
K.J. Osborn was targeted right at the goal line. Cousins may have been a little late with his throw and it was slightly thrown to Osborn’s back, who still possibly could’ve made a play. Cousins will be the one on the stat sheet with three turnovers but can’t be solely blamed for them. While he deserves some accountability, it was a real team effort.
Penalties were also a problem. Minnesota committed six penalties for 45 yards, and some of them were in crucial situations. The Vikings forced a third-and-seven in the second quarter and the Bucs’ offense hasn’t done anything at that point. Edge rusher Patrick Jones jumped early and was called for a neutral zone infraction, leading to a third and two and the subsequent touchdown drive. If the Vikings had gotten off the field at this point, chances are good that they would’ve gone into halftime with a seven-point lead.
Another mind-boggling penalty was called on safety Jay Ward who was lining up offsides on a long field goal, allowing the drive to continue, and leading to another touchdown. Self-inflicted wounds were the main issue for the Vikings.
Penalties and turnovers are always a problem caused by poor execution and bad coaching, and the Vikings certainly shot themselves in the foot today. The team has only a few days to clean that up as they face the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.
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