They do not get much more brutal than this for Vikings fans. For all the fanfare with this team at the start of the season, the money paid to the quarterback, the hotshot young play-caller, none of it has produced fruit these past few weeks. And it hit rock bottom tonight, as the Vikings failed to put a single point on the board until the final minutes, falling 21-7.
It was not a good game for today’s high-octane, offense-heavy NFL. The Vikings offense continued its free-fall with zero points before garbage time and only 276 total yards. Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson combined for only 280 yards, but Wilson’s was able to get points on the board when they got into scoring position. Cousins and the Vikings could not.
They had a couple scoring chances when the game was still in doubt, but failed on a fourth-and-goal attempt in the fourth quarter and then later had a field goal attempt blocked. From there, the Seahawks used their effective running game to burn the clock down and seal the win with a pair of late touchdowns.
The Vikings’ defense was bend-don’t-break all game. They surrendered yardage, largely due to Seattle’s excellent rushing attack. But when push came to shove, they held Wilson out of the end zone most of the game. Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Linval Joseph especially were bright spots. Barr made several big plays in the run game and came up with a key sack that contributed to holding the Seahawks to a field goal. Hunter had the biggest play of the first half, pressuring Wilson into making an ill-advised desperation throw. Eric Kendricks jumped on it for the interception right before halftime.
Rookie Holton Hill also played well in his second career start. Wilson made it a point to attack Hill with deep balls, and Hill was up to the task each time. Not a single deep ball was completed when targeting Hill.
The offense. Period. It was a painful watch every time they came onto the field. There was plenty of blame to go around. The offensive line did a terrible job of making room for Cousins. Cousins did poorly with his reads post-snap. John DeFilippo had a series of bad calls on third-and-short and fourth-and-short. With the exception of spurts of running success, nothing went the way the Vikings wanted it to go.
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Brian O’Neill and Mike Remmers had a rough time protecting Cousins’ face side. For much of the first half, Cousins had his eyes down, shuffling for his life away from pressure. To his detriment, however, Cousins was quick to check down early in his progressions, and overall struggled to maintain poise. As a result, drives stalled as deep drops resulted in one- and two-yard completions too often.
But the worst part of the Vikings’ offensive performance came from the numerous short-yardage plays. Minnesota was pretty good at getting to third-and-manageable, but every time, the ensuing play resulted in disappointment. DeFilippo consistently called long-developing pass plays to pick up short yardage. And then in a situation where play action may have been effective,the third quarter fourth-down attempt, he ran with Latavius Murray into a stacked box. Those who have questioned DeFilippo’s performance this year had a lot to draw on Monday night.
The defense also had some weak points. While they largely played well, they had some issues with contain throughout the night. Runs that should have gone for one yard went for 10 due to poor backside discipline. The worst was a 40-yard Wilson scramble late in the fourth during a key drive for the defense.
And of course, there was the obligatory missed Vikings field goal. Bobby Wagner hurdled the line to block a Dan Bailey attempt in the fourth quarter, keeping the Vikings off the scoreboard. It is essentially a weekly occurrence at this point.
The week shaped out well for the Vikings, despite the loss. While the Bears have the division virtually locked down, the Vikings remain the NFC’s sixth seed due to losses from Washington, Carolina and Philadelphia. As such, they remain in control of their own destiny, albeit with two potential playoff teams remaining on their schedule.
The Vikings return home next week to take on the Dolphins. With both teams clinging to their playoff lives, this game will carry far more weight than one would have thought at the beginning of the season.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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