The short rest between weeks 11 and 12 proved to be endlessly valuable, as the Minnesota Vikings beat the New England Patriots 33-26. Minnesota bounces back to (9-2), and the Patriots fall to (6-5). Another close, heart-wrenching game, but at least it’s what we’re a little used to at this point. The offense looked more solid, and the defense didn’t give up 40 points, which is always welcome to me.
Offense is up first, and get ready…you feel that? THAT’S RIGHT, KIRK BOSSED UP ON PRIMETIME BABY, ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT HE BUCKLED DOWN. A spectacular 30-37 for passing attempts, along with almost 300 yards, three touchdowns, and one early and ugly (he stabilized, don’t worry) interception. Justin Jefferson continues his reign of terror with another nine catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Adam Theilen also had a nice game, with nine catches as well for 61 yards and another touchdown. Our rushing game completely vanished, though, rushing for a total of 57 yards as a team. One of my biggest complaints for our offense in this match was our playcalling variety, or lack thereof. There were an alarming amount of first downs that consisted of a run that would go for maybe three yards max. Our offensive potency comes when the offensive line can create a pocket and Cousins can sling to one of the greatest receiver cores in the league. Minnesota’s run game has the potential to take over a game, but banking on 100+ yards every game is ill-fated. In doses, it works miracles. In an overdose, it almost loses us the game. A good number of our drives sputtered out because of the repeated rushing attempts that didn’t have the intended effect. We had some creative plays ealy on, but burned through them. Hopefully (I’ve said this every single week and I don’t think it’s ever worked), notes are taken and issues are fixed.
Defense is up next, and I’m pretty solidly disappointed in some areas. Our defensive line should’ve feasted on a Patriots line that was dealing with injury issues, and still got three sacks as a unit, but it really didn’t feel like it. There were only three QB hits, which may explain the lack of a palpable pressure being put on. In his first career start, Duke Shelley proved really solid, whether it showed in the box score or not. Ed Donatell’s shell scheme continues to infuriate me to no end, allowing Mac Jones to throw for almost 400 yards. There’s not many plays for the secondary to make when they’re forced back and towards the sideline by their coordinator. It was definitely a better game than this past Sunday, but there’s still loads of improvements to be made before these games start becoming win-or-go-home.
Special Teams played a massive part in the win against New England, with Kene Nwangwu scoring on a kickoff return touchdown in what served as a game-changing score. Ryan Wright showed off his acting talents along with his punting ability, selling a roughing the kicker call enough to convert a fourth down on a drive that ended in another score. Greg Joseph had an ok game, missing another extra point, so this game truly was a return to something we as fans and critics are used to.