Minnesota came off yet another one-possession win against the Commanders, but this time, a come-from-behind win. The Vikings are usually used to having big leads and barely hanging on, but the narrative can’t be consistent for this team.
But Kirk Cousins doesn’t care about the narrative as he evidently enjoyed the hard-earned win against his former team back in FedEx Field. The Vikings’ offense was practically dormant after their opening drive but came alive only when the Commanders took a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter. The defense held its ground, especially when it needed to, as Harrison Smith picked off Taylor Heinicke mid-way through the fourth quarter, which allowed Kirk Cousins to drop a dime to Dalvin Cook on a wheel route for a touchdown that tied the game up.
It seems like the Vikings wake up whenever their lead is threatened or when they are down in the fourth quarter. Is this sustainable? Vikings are sitting at 7-1 and have won six straight games in this manner, but how far can it take them? We’re about halfway through the season, and the Vikings have a dominant lead in the NFC North, and they almost have a 100% chance to clinch the division. Notably, some of their one-possession wins have been a bit unnecessary because they had a comfortable lead but allowed opponents to crawl their way back into the game. Although it creates an interesting watch for NFL fans looking forward to nail-biting games, it can be nerve-wracking for Vikings fans as they have been dealing with these types of games since last season.
Eventually, Minnesota is going to drop a game or two if they keep this up. As great as they have been in the fourth quarter in terms of “winning in the margins”, as Kevin O’Connell likes to call it, some team will eventually give them a taste of their own medicine and close the game out the way the Vikings usually do.
“Winning in the margins” is a crucial factor in why the Vikings are 7-1. Knowing when and how to step up in critical moments is a great skill to have for the postseason. Most of the time in the playoffs, there is usually one play or drive that can flip the whole dynamic of the game, and so far, the Vikings seem to be good at that this season. But allowing teams to come back when they are down by two possessions or more is essentially gambling with the game. While the Vikings may be a lock for the NFC North, the way they play in the second half of games will ultimately be the x-factor to whether or not they can make a postseason run. As Kirk Cousins said over their win against the Cardinals, “the difference between 6-1 and 1-6 is pretty thin.”