I mean…what? It’s taking a lot of deep thought to put my feelings about this one into words. The Minnesota Vikings win again, this time against the Washington Commanders, 20-17. Minnesota continues to “march,” moving to (7-1), while the Commanders end their three-game winning streak, falling to (4-5). There are so many things to go over, and I’ll try to make it semi-cohesive.
Starting off with the offense, I can safely say that our line could be fully replaced with practice squad players and no one would bat an eye. Every single casual that’s ever seen the Vikings play football always blame Kirk Cousins for offensive woes. Please, tell me: who can make these throws? There’s no person who can consistently play well in these circumstances. Even with this, Kirk played well with 265 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Justin Jefferson continues to rip apart teams with another 100+ yard game, while fresh face T.J. Hockensen pulled in nine catches for 70 yards. Adam Thielen averaged an absurd 22.3 yards per catch, with 67 yards total. Dalvin Cook breaks up a quiet day (17 attempts, 47 yards) with a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab to tie the game up. The first offensive drive of the game for this unit was perfect Vikings football, and if they can replicate it, these wins will only get more and more convincing (hopefully).
Now for defense and…man. It’s best to address the elephant in the room, I think. This game shouldn’t have been this close because a ref turned a guaranteed deflection and very possible interception for Minnesota into a Commanders touchdown by RUNNING HEAD-LONG INTO CAMRYN BYNUM. It can’t even be claimed that there was no way for the ref to move, he could’ve stayed away from the play, or ducked, or anything. Except no, he hits Bynum in the middle of him about to make a play on the ball. I would hope this gets legitimately investigated by the league, since this completely flipped the game’s script at that point. After that atrocious moment, the defense was visibly deflated and immediately started playing down to their opposition. After that ref-assisted touchdown, the Washington offense was pretty much allowed to walk back into this game. Going against a team that has a much better defense than offense and STILL not being able to keep that supb-par offense is incredibly alarming for a team that’s now (7-1). In terms of impact players, Danielle Hunter finally reappears with two sacks and two tackles-for-loss. A surprise presence in the run defense today was Akayleb Evans, with six total tackles, two TFLs, and a pass defended. The big turning point that reopened Minnesota’s door in this game was absolutely Harrison Smith’s interception that he snagged already in Commander territory and still ran 35 yards closer to the endzone. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, this defense can more easily clean up offenses as generally unimpressive as Washington’s.
I feel like special teams have earned their own section, especially with my weekly Ryan Wright check-ins. He continues to impress, with 310 yards punting and averaging 51.7 per punt. Greg Joseph may have heard my (and every Vikings fan’s) grumblings about his recent performance because for the first time in a long time, he was perfect. 2/2 on extra point attempts, as well as being 2/2 on field goals, one of them being the eventual game-winner.
This game was the definition of ugly and completely unnecessary in terms of how close it was, so your typical Vikings game for this season. There’s only so many times I can say “a win is a win” about this team. Next week’s game against the Buffalo Bills should be a strong test for this team, even though they just lost to the New York Jets. I just hope this team can clean it up. Fast.