A Win is a Win Even if it Takes a Walk-Off Field Goal vs the Lions

Photo: @Vikings – Twitter

The Minnesota Vikings entered week 5 of the NFL season with a 1-3 record and in a precarious early-season must-win situation. Luckily for them, they happened to have the worst franchise in NFL history next on the schedule. With Dan Campbell’s winless knee-cap biting Detroit Lions coming to US Bank Stadium, a victory was all but guaranteed, right?

Well, not exactly. The Vikings were (-10) favorites throughout the sportsbook world most of the week while fans and media called for a blowout of the undermanned Lions. But then the game started and outside of one big run in the 4th quarter, Minnesota struggled to get their run game going with Dalvin Cook out. Much of Sunday’s game felt like Kirk Cousins just trying to drag his team into field goal range.

The one that almost got away…

Still, a victory looked well in-hand with the Vikings up 16-6 and only four minutes remaining. That was right before Greg Joseph left a 49-yard field goal short and the Lions made him pay with a quick field goal of their own, cutting the Vikings lead to 16-9.

Zimmer countered with three-straight Minnesota runs t what ended with a Mattison fumble deep in Vikings territory. The Lions made them pay with a touchdown, cutting the score to 16-15. With 37 seconds remaining, Dan Campbell decided to go for two points and what he thought would be a win. Detroit converted, taking the 17-16 lead. But Kirk Cousins and Greg Joseph weren’t ready to call game yet.

With two timeouts in his pocket, Cousins completed two deep completions to Adam Thielen and set Joseph up for a 55-yarder to win the game and redeem himself. And finally, a Minnesota kicker came through when it mattered most.

Kirk and Mike were fired up after, showing emotion we rarely see shared between the two of them. It almost looked awkward…

A win is a win.

Sunday’s victory over the Lions might epitomize an ugly win but the Minnesota Vikings and Mike Zimmer shouldn’t apologize for it. At the end of the week, they will be 2-3 in a division that’s ripe for the taking. Both Detroit and Chicago are done and the Packers might be the worst 4-1 team in football.

You may have wanted the Vikings to win by 30 points today and maybe the best teams would have. But it’s clear the early-season 2021 Minnesota Vikings are not one of the NFL’s best teams… right now. Especially without Dalvin Cook.

Positives

But that doesn’t mean they have nothing going for them and it doesn’t mean they can’t improve. Mike Zimmer may not realize it yet, but Kirk Cousins is currently a top-5 QB in the league and he’s come through just about every time he’s been called upon this season. Many believe a top-10 QB is necessary to win a Super Bowl. If you’re one of those people then Kirk’s play should have you feeling better about this team than you have since Brett Favre retired for the final time.

Oh, and Mike Zimmer’s defense continues to improve with every game. If Dalvin Cook can get healthy, there won’t be a team with better weapons on both sides of the field.

Zimmer’s game management

If Mike Zimmer refuses to give defensive play calling to someone else, maybe he’ll be willing to delegate game management duties. He continues to struggle in that aspect and his lack of trust for Kirk Cousins is infuriating.

Detroit was out of timeouts and needed a stop on 3rd down to keep the game going. Instead of trusting Kirk Cousins to throw a 6-yard completion for the win, Minnesota handed the ball to Mattison and he fumbled while getting tackled at the line of scrimmage.

Zim had better watch out. If Rashod Hill gets benched for good and the Vikings’ offensive line improves, his game management might become the team’s biggest weakness.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan