The Vikings had a rough trip to Detroit losing 34-23 to the surging Lions (6-7). Minnesota missed a prime opportunity to clinch the NFC north, now having to wait another week to have a chance to claim the division title. The Vikings defense was horrific today. Pair that with some poor play calling decisions and a non-existent run game and it’ll lead to a loss that even Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson can’t overcome. With that, let’s take a look at my Minnesota Vikings week 14 takeaways.
Bad Playcalling In Key Situations And Officiating
Okay, the actual penalties and stuff were fine today. The issues I have with the officials came on two plays. First is the Justin Jackson touchdown.
Justin Jackson’s first rushing touchdown as a Lion! pic.twitter.com/pPz3stgNZd
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) December 11, 2022
That was not a touchdown. I’m sorry, but when did the ball cross the goal line? Why wasn’t it overturned? His elbow hit the pylon not the ball. I’m not saying that the Lions don’t score on the next play, but that was not a touchdown, and it was ridiculous that it was upheld. Next, is the Justin Jefferson touchdown that was whistled dead.
We say this every week.
But there are no words to describe how great @JJettas2 is.#ProBowlVote
📺: @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/TQPinBFqer
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) December 11, 2022
Can the refs ever learn to let plays actually play out? That took important time off the clock that would have impacted the game significantly. How much time? Around 51 secondslm. Almost a minute of time that would have been in play. The Vikings likely wouldn’t have onside kicked after it and given Detroit good field position. Would the Vikings have won? Who knows; but those 51 seconds would have greatly impacted the game.
Now onto the play calling. First, why on Earth were we going for two? That didn’t make any sense. At the end of the game to win it? Yeah, I can understand that. But with two minutes to go in the third quarter? Yeah, not so much. Then you have the Dalvin Cook fumble.
I know I’ve seen the play before and it worked, but that just didn’t seem like the right call at that moment. First and goal at the Detroit three and that’s what you call. I could understand on third or fourth and goal. First? It just doesn’t make sense. Run it up the middle, do a screen pass, something else, but don’t take something out of your bag of tricks on first and goal.
Lastly, as mentioned before, the onside kick. Honestly this is debatable. For me it’s just you have 2:50 left on the clock. While your defense had been bad on the day, they tend to stand tall in the fourth quarter and at the end of the game. Force a punt and get the ball back. Don’t give the Lions great field position late in the game to seal the win.
The Running Game Is An Issue
Minnesota has struggled to run the ball this season. Today was more evidence of that. The team had 22 yards rushing. Dalvin Cook ran 15 times for 23 yards and one touchdown. Not great. Yes, the offensive line was beat up, but even when they’ve been healthy, they haven’t been great when it comes to running the ball. The Vikings rank 25th in rushing yards per game (101.8) and 27th in rushing attempts per game (23.8).
This isn’t great. Now I will give props to not abandoning the running game because you can’t until you’re in desperation mode, but the lack of creativity to get some sort of production out of it is bad. Kevin O’Connell must find a way to create space up front, whether it’s up the middle or on the outside. Just find a way to get Cook and Mattison going and that’ll help the passing game out.
But Kirk and JJ Are Looking Fantastic
Well, Kirk and Jefferson had fantastic games today. Cousins threw for 425 yards with a completion percentage of 75% and two touchdowns. It was a great game from Kirk who looked sharp yet again. His main target in Jefferson who was shut down against Detroit in week 3 went off for 223 yards, a franchise record for yards in a single game. Also having nice days were Hockenson (77 yards) and Thielen (65 yards and a touchdown). The passing game looked fantastic today, but a lack of a running game hurt them in the end.
No Surprise – The Defense Was Terrible
Yeah, what else is new? Yes, Detroit’s offense is good, and they’ve been on a roll lately, but they couldn’t stop the Lions in the second half. They forced them to punt twice and got a turnover on downs and then the Lions missed a field goal in the first half, but after halftime the Lions juggernaut of an offense was near unstoppable. The Vikings didn’t sack Goff once who had a great game throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns.
The Vikings gave up 464 yards of total offense. This is the fifth straight game where they have allowed 400 yards of total offense. Detroit threw for 330 yards and rushed for 134. Minnesota was also without veteran safety Harrison Smith who was out with a neck injury. His absence was noticed and led to some blown coverages during the game. Just another bad day for the Vikings’ defense.
A Look Ahead
The Vikings will look to turn their attention on the Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1) who they will play on Saturday. This is the first of two back-to-back Saturday games for Minnesota. The Colts are coming off of their bye.
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