Offense, Defense and Referees Share Blame in Vikings Loss vs 49ers

Photo: Ezra Shaw - Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings failed to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon, in a game that would have pushed them over .500 for the first time since the year, 2019. Everyone involved deserves some blame. That includes the play of the Vikings’ offense, its defense and the game’s referees.

Sure, the 49ers might deserve some credit too, but that’s not what this blog is for. This is about blame, not credit. And the blame for Sunday starts with the Vikings offense, which struggled to run the football all game long and had two UNFORGIVABLE turnovers that may have cost them a victory.

Turnovers are bad, mmmkaay…

Kirk Cousins threw an interception deep in his own territory to start the second half, giving the 49ers a relatively easy TD a few plays later. Then later, Dalvin Cook was tackled in the backfield, fumbled (the Niners recovered) and was hurt on the play. The red and gold offense then cashed in a field goal and Cook will get an MRI to determine the severity of his shoulder injury on Monday.

While Kirk Cousins and the passing attack looked great again, at times, they couldn’t make up for the turnovers even though they were given some opportunities late.

Let’s quickly touch on the rushing attack this Vikings team has lacked throughout the 2021 season. Yes, they have a bunch of rushing yards but most teams don’t stick with their ground game like the Vikings do. They’re committed… but moving the ball on the ground vs San Francisco was such a lost cause that Kubiak & Co ran the ball just 18 times all of Sunday (67 Total YDS, 1 TD).

Not a defensive team anymore

There aren’t very many Minnesota Vikings fans out there anymore who see their team as a defense-first outfit. Neither does the head coach, who finally realized a few weeks ago that his passing attack is probably the greatest strength to his team.

Much like the offense, the Vikings defense had some good moments on Sunday too. Harrison Smith picked off Jimmy Garoppolo in the first half, setting the offense up for an easy score, and they made some big stops in the second half that gave Kirk Cousins multiple shots at bringing them back.

But, they struggled mightily against the 49ers rush attack, which ran crazy for 208 yards on the game (5.3 YPC). It’s difficult to beat San Francisco if you can’t force Jimmy Garoppolo to throw. The Vikings didn’t and they paid for it in the end. Unless you ask Mike Zimmer, who is blaming the refs (I will too just wait).

Even during the last drive, which led to the missed field goal that gave Minnesota one last shot to tie the game, Zimmer’s defense let the Niners’ offense hold the ball for over 7 minutes (12 plays, 72 yards) before Robbie Gould trotted out and shanked the 42-yard game winner.

Referees are the worst

Nobody likes a blogger who holds referees responsible for his/her team’s losses but I’m going to be that guy again. While they don’t deserve all of the blame, the zebras from Sunday’s 49ers vs Vikings game certainly deserve their fair share.

I won’t focus on calls throughout the game because I don’t even need to tonight. No, Sunday’s refereeing disaster culminated in two late calls that could have led to a different result. One play, an Adam Thielen “drop”, was reviewed and SOMEHOW not overturned.

The other was an AGGREGIOUS non-PI call that would have moved the Minnesota Vikings across midfield on their final drive with nearly one minute left on the clock. Instead, the game was over one play later.

Sometimes, there’s enough blame to go around for a bad loss like the one the Vikings suffered vs the 49ers on Sunday.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan