FORD FIELD, MI – The Minnesota Vikings’ 2018 season finale will be a drama-filled event next Sunday, after picking up a critical road win over the Detroit Lions, 27-9.
The Vikings had to overcome a slow start early on, allowing Detroit to get up 9-0 through the first 25 minutes of the game before scoring all 27 of their points unanswered the rest of the way.
The momentum of the game shifted on Kirk Cousins’ Hail Mary touchdown throw to Kyle Rudolph as time expired at the half to put the Vikings up 14-9. From that time forward, it was all Minnesota from there.
The Vikings got a strong performance from Cousins when they needed it most as he went 21 for 28 for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly is that he avoided turnovers.
Rudolph led all receivers with nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns, his most productive game of the season. Adam Thielen chipped in five catches for 80 yards.
With Minnesota able to move the ball through the air late in the first half, the ground game was able to find space in the second half, finishing with 100 yards on the day. Dalvin Cook led the way with 73 yards on 16 carries.
The Vikings’ defense was able to exert their will in the second half as the Lions ran out of options to move the ball with consistency. Other than receiver Kenny Golladay and running back LeGarrette Blount, the Lions had no one else who showed much capability to make a big play or create a spark for Detroit.
The Vikings’ defense held Lions’ quarterback, Matt Stafford, to just 18 of 32 passing for just 116 yards while limiting Detroit’s ground game to 86 yards.
The Vikings will close out the season at home against the new NFC North division champion Chicago Bears. Thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles pulling out the win late against Houston Texans minutes after the Vikings finished their game, the Vikings will need to win next Sunday afternoon to make the postseason for the third time in four years as a wild card.
Better late than never, right? Kyle Rudolph had put together a quiet year and had been largely missing in the red zone. Not today. Nine catches, 122 yards. Two touchdowns, but none bigger than the Hail Mary catch that completely shifted the game in Minnesota’s favor the rest of the way. If the Vikings can keep him involved in the passing game next week and (hopefully) beyond, the Vikings will be a dangerous wild card team for any team to face in the playoffs.
Kirk Cousins played a clean game here, at least after the first 20 minutes of the game. Games like this are the ones that the Vikings need from their franchise quarterback going forward. With the ground game sputtering in the first half, it was Cousins’ arm that got the Vikings offense going. When the offense can use one facet to start the other like this, as we’ve now seen in back-to-back games, they can hang with anyone.
- Minnesota was fortunate to be playing a Detroit Lions team that was depleted on offense. Slow starts like they had today could’ve doomed them had it been against a team with a better offense. The defense struggled to keep the Lions out of scoring range early on. They will need to be at their very best next week against a Bears team that, though not offensively elite, is fully capable of taking advantage of the kinds of opportunities that the Lions squandered today.