12 Snap Reactions after Vikings at Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jake Browning (6) scrambles before throwing a deep pass to wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) in overtime of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Bengals won on an overtime field goal. © Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Each week, we offer a “snap reactions” piece detailing thoughts and analysis after the latest Minnesota Vikings game.

12 Snap Reactions after Vikings at Bengals

This will be off-the-cuff, a wee bit random, and hopefully insightful.

The Vikings lost 27-24 at Paycor Stadium on Saturday, a heartbreaker to the Cincinnati Bengals, after securing a 17-3 lead at the start of the 4th Quarter. The loss sent Minnesota to a 7-7 record with three games remaining.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) makes a touchdown over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) in the 4th quarter Paycor Stadium Saturday, December 16, 2023. © Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK.

1 – The Vikings needed inches — not yards — with the game on the line. That’s why back-to-back quarterback sneaks were called. Usually an NFL team can pick up inches between two sneaks. The playcalling was not dumb; the execution was poor.

2 – Nothing can ever be good simultaneously for the 2023 Vikings. When the offense hums — for example, a backup quarterback produces 24 points, leaving the rest to the NFL’s fifth-best defense — the defense decides it’s time to go to bed. When the defense hums — last weekend at Las Vegas — the offense can do nothing. It’s all disjointed sessions of good and bad. Here’s to hoping a steady QB1 stays healthy in 2024.

3 – That was the full Nick Mullens experience. His modus operandi suggests he’ll fling it all day long while throwing an interception or two. At Cincinnati was a microcosm of precisely how he plays, and fans should expect that blueprint in the final three games.

after Vikings at Bengals
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports.

4 – The loss to the Bengals was the only second time since Blair Walsh’s 2015 playoff field goal miss that the Vikings lost a game when entering the 4th Quarter with a lead. The other time was in 2021 at the Baltimore Ravens.

5 – Ty Chandler did enough on Saturday to earn the RB1 gig the rest of the way. We shall see if head coach Kevin O’Connell grants him the wish. Chandler was magnificent at Cincinnati, arguably the Vikings’ most steady RB performance since 2021 Dalvin Cook.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

6 – Nick Mullens accomplished the task requested of him heading into Week 15 — feed the WRs and TEs. Nobody knew the defense would totally regress when the enterprise needed it the most.

7 – You can write this in blood somewhere: when the Vikings don’t win the turnover battle — especially with a backup quarterback — they’re probably not going to win. Minnesota must hold serve via the turnover differential to win it. Otherwise, it will lose.

8 – When the Vikings had the Bengals dead to rights at 3rd and 21 in the 4th Quarter after an intentional grounding penalty, that was the gift-wrapped moment to snuff Cincinnati out. They did not, and that moment was even more impactful than the failed quarterback sneaks on 3rd and 4th Down in overtime.

9 – Jordan Addison is back on track after developing zero chemistry with Joshua Dobbs. Addison — like most wide receivers — needs a passer who can loft the ball downfield. A productive Mullens + Addison should bode well for the season’s remainder.

Rookies Fetch ESPN
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

10 – Minnesota was 2 for 5 in the redzone inside a three-point loss. It notably didn’t score points on drives with Mullens’ two interceptions. Turnovers are generally fatal but are utterly doomsday on the road against a winning team.

11 – Faint hopes of the Vikings winning the NFC North are now kaput unless the Lions drop three of their final four games while the Vikings win out. Not happening.

12 – At the moment the Vikings were leading 17-3, they went from, “Hold on to this win, don’t lose all of the final three games, and you will be in the playoffs,” to “Now you must win two of the remaining three games just to get in.”

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.