The Vikings have been through a tremendous amount of change lately, most notably Norv Turner’s departure; but we also released Walsh. Interestingly, from the very start, the game felt different. And it wasn’t because we had the purported A-squad of announcers in Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (boo, hiss).
While the offense “felt” better, I will say that the defense was REALLY bad – atrocious – against the run. Terrible. Like… repulsively bad. The half-time adjustments made by Zimmer helped a bit, but “stout” against the run the defense was not.
Let’s talk about all of the personal fouls that the Cardinals drew during the game. The sports commentators didn’t like most of them. But you know what? There was no reason to knock Bradford on his tush when he was lined up on the outside. Sure, it’s football, but what was Bradford going to do? I’ll tell you what he was going to do: nothing. So there was no point in hitting him hard enough to knock him down. That was unsportsmanlike. And the hit on Diggs? That was unnecessary, too. With all of the TBIs and CTE being a factor for players, their safety cannot be unnecessarily put at risk. And that’s what the Cardinals were doing today and I was not a fan of some of their choices.
All that being said, let’s break it down.
- The Vikings defense took care of the Cardinals’ first offensive series, forcing a punt.
- Vikings’ opening offensive series actually included rushing yards – 16 even! Average of 5.3, which is an improvement over previous weeks.
- After the negated Bradford/Rudolph TD in the 1st quarter, the Vikings regrouped and Bradford hit Thielen for just in front of the end zone. Initially the refs said the pass was incomplete, but Zim challenged the call and won it – so the Vikings put 6 points on the board less than 5 minutes into the game. Forbath made the extra point and the Vikings were up by 7.
- Xavier Rhodes intercepted Palmer on 3rd and goal… and he took it 100 yards to the house! Tremendous defensive play and exactly what the Vikings needed. FYI – this is a team record.
- Cordarrelle Patterson had his 5th kick-off return TD of his career to start the 3rd quarter.
- McKinnon looked pretty good today; the running game was slightly better for it.
- Xavier Rhodes intercepted Palmer in the 3rd quarter. Palmer threw deep… to the wrong guy. #RhodesClosed
- A commentary on Larry Fitzgerald. Late in the 4th quarter, Fitzgerald hit Kendricks low and Kendricks was slow to get up. When Larry saw that, he rushed to Kendricks and helped him up. THAT is sportsmanship.
- The Vikings scored a beautiful passing TD on their first possession… until Sirles was called for illegal use of the hands. Typical Vikings maneuver… something fantastic negated by a stupid, careless penalty.
- Munnerlyn held Fitzgerald to the point where they both hit the turf. Munnerlyn seemed surprised when he was called for a penalty. C’mon man!
- The Vikings 2nd offensive series was pretty pathetic. One 1st down conversion and then a 3 and out, returning the defense to the field.
- On the Cardinals 3rd offensive series, David Johnson just keep running 8 – 10 yards at a time. The Vikings had no countermeasures against the Cardinals’ rushing game. The really bad part of this drive was that the Vikings didn’t bring out the blitzing until the Cardinals were in the red zone. Ultimately the Vikings held them to 3 points, but they shouldn’t have gotten that far in the first place!
- The Vikings defense literally had no answers for the Cardinals today, absent a disruptive play like a fumble/interception. When all things are equal, those Cardinals just marched up and down the field at will throughout the 1st half. It was really hard to watch… because the defense is CLEARLY on the decline. There were some adjustments after the half time break, but the Cardinals still came VERY close to winning this game.
- Mid-way through the 3rd quarter, the Vikings decided to go for it on a 4th and 3. Bradford was nearly picked off and the Cardinals got tremendous field position. Not a bright spot in the game – and this was after the failed wildcat behind an o-line that literally no other team in the NFL would want. What redeemed this entire fiasco was that the defense managed to hold the Cardinals to a 3 and out, punctuated by a B-Rob sack on Palmer.
- Thielen was called for offensive pass interference, eliminating a 20 yard completion. That penalty was quickly followed by a delay of game penalty.
- The Vikings defense was sub-par on the Cardinals’ 2nd offensive drive. Palmer kept hitting people over the middle as the team just marched right down the field, scoring on the 12th play of the drive as David Johnson ran right into the end zone, basically untouched. Completely unimpressive defensive effort on the part of the Vikings.
- On the 2nd TD for the Vikings… the Cardinals blocked the Extra Point. Let me repeat: the Cardinals blocked the Extra Point. What the hell are the special teams doing?
- And speaking of special teams, Forbath completely shanked the kick off after the TD sans Extra Point and the Cardinals just ran right up the field. Um… do I need to call for Priefer’s firing next? I’ve had no respect for him since his bigotry was revealed back when Chris Kluwe was around, so it wouldn’t take much for me to call for a change at that coaching position either. Now, you might point to the Cordarrelle Patterson kick off return TD – but to me, that’s Cordarrelle all the way. To me, the Walsh issues speak to Priefer’s inability to help him turn the corner and be the kicker he was his rookie season. That’s problematic, in my opinion. Add to that the punt return yardage the Cardinals were able to secure – then you have a mounting case for problems with the special teams scheme.
- Trae Waynes is still drawing stupid penalties. Repeatedly. Is he going to settle in at some point and stop being a liability?
- The o-line began melting down with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The score was 30-17 as this began to happen. First there was a possible fumble, which stood as an incomplete pass and that was followed by Bradford getting demolished on the very next play, ruled a fumble (not an incomplete pass) with a Cardinal recovery. The o-line is terrible. Really, really terrible. NOTE: on the subsequent drive, Kendricks got dinged up and the Cardinals scored a TD. Blame the O-Line for being weak and soft.
- Tom Johnson was called for a bogus personal foul after the Vikings had them pinned with a 4th down. Total crap officiating. The Vikings let the Cardinals got a subsequent 1st down on a Palmer rush (yes, Carson Palmer ran down field). Thankfully, Danielle Hunter ended the Cardinals’ hope with a huge sack for a loss on 4th and 5. NOTE: Carson Palmer was hit 23 times in today’s game.
- Not Bad Inexplicable: The Trickery! Direct snaps to McKinnon, a Patterson to Bradford flip for a deep pass downfield to Thielen, who was interfered with, bringing the Vikings to the 1 yard line. A hand off to Asiata and the fortuitous placement of a Cardinals’ body, keeping Asiata off the turf, resulted in the Vikings’ 2nd TD of the game mid-way through the 2nd quarter.
- Kinda Bad Inexplicable: if you have a terrible o-line, why would you run the wildcat in critical moments?
- Really Bad Inexplicable: The Vikings had to use 2 challenges to ensure their TDs were counted. That is CRAP officiating. Given that I’m writing this in real time and we’re not done with the 2nd quarter, this could really come back to hurt the Vikings.
So that’s week 11 of the 2016 season. The Vikings managed to win the game, moving to 6-4. And they’ll be playing the Lions on Thursday… to battle for 1st place in the division…. because they didn’t beat the Lions last time they met. (sigh). So – I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving (if you happen to celebrate it) and we can all meet back here on Thursday. Skol Vikings Nation!
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