Falcons Tilt Felt Gladiator-Esque for Vikings

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When the Minnesota Vikings went to Atlanta for a Week 9 matchup on Sunday, they were underdogs against unfortunate circumstances. When they left for home following the game, they were victorious against unfortunate circumstances.

Falcons Tilt Felt Gladiator-Esque for Vikings

For Kevin O’Connell’s Minnesota Vikings, the storyline coming into Sunday was about replacing veteran signal-caller Kirk Cousins. Heading out for a road game as slight underdogs was always a tough task. Asking rookie Jaren Hall to step up and get the job done was part of the narrative. Ultimately, the team came through, but it’s worth questioning if this wasn’t a scenario of winning the battle but losing the war.

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It didn’t take long for the Vikings to face adversity in Atlanta. Despite rostering two elite tackles, Christian Darrisaw was ruled out for the game just hours before kickoff. This meant that the rookie Hall would have David Quessenberry protecting his blindside rather than the All-Pro talent. Quessenberry filled in admirably, and that wound up being a slight footnote in the contest, but it was clearly a precursor for what was to come.

O’Connell watched as Hall himself had barely gotten his feet wet before being lifted due to a concussion. Attempting to run for a touchdown, Hall was hit hard in the head and then had his helmet bounce violently off the turf on the same play. Understandably shaken when regaining his balance, he was immediately taken from the game and headed to the blue tent. It didn’t take long before he was walking back to the locker room and then was quickly ruled out with a concussion.

That would have been difficult enough to work through for Minnesota on Sunday, but it was just the beginning. After veteran quarterback Joshua Dobbs took over, only days after joining the team, he saw one of his top pass-catching options go down with a similar fate. K.J. Osborn got popped on a play that left him dealing with the same issue as Hall. Osborn left with a concussion and understandably didn’t return to the game.

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Now down a backup quarterback, starting left tackle, and a wide receiver, O’Connell needed his team to keep grinding. As the game went on, disaster struck again when running back Cam Akers suffered the same injury that got Cousins a week prior. Rupturing his Achilles for the second time in his career, Akers had his season end, and despite looking like the team’s best back, he immediately was not an available option.

From there, the Vikings continued to fight. It was evident that tight end T.J. Hockenson was playing through pain, and his production down the stretch helped to keep Minnesota in position to walk away with a victory. Brandon Powell, who was now the second wide receiver for Dobbs, had been playing through cramps. He was noticeably dealing with the pain, and while the hope was to make it on the plane with a victory, that was no sure thing. When the Vikings needed a two-minute touchdown to complete the comeback, it was Powell who got open and secured the catch.

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By the time the dust had settled, the Vikings had experienced a plethora of emotions during the game. Not only did they lose multiple starters and key contributors, but they came up victorious, and Dobbs orchestrated a victory that seemed unfathomable in and of itself. Now, heading into a home game against the New Orleans Saints, it’s about getting healthy as quickly as they can.

Akers isn’t coming back, and neither is Cousins, but the rest may. Powell and Hockenson must heal their bodies and get rest. Hall and Osborn can hopefully clear the concussion protocol and find themselves back ready to go. The decision to activate superstar Justin Jefferson also looms, and his re-insertion into the lineup would pay massive dividends.

Nothing about the Vikings game on Sunday against the Falcons was expected, and the pain left on the field seems eerily familiar to a gladiator fight of old. Still, Minnesota emerged with the victory, and that had to make the flight home just a little bit less painful.

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.