From a suggestion by a reader, we continue our “snap reactions” weekly piece detailing thoughts and analysis after a Minnesota Vikings game.
This will be off-the-cuff, a wee bit “random,” and hopefully insightful.
The Vikings climbed to 10-2 atop the NFC North after toppling the defensively savvy New York Jets, 27-22, at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
1 – After each suspense-thriller game, at least one Vikings player or coach says something to the effect, “The scary part is we haven’t put together a full game yet.” Perhaps these types of games are the Vikings versions of complete games. There may be no unicorn blowout on the way. The 2022 Vikings, at their apex, might just be a team that is mandated to keep every game close and get blown out once every two months. Twelve games are in the books. Patterns are evident. Minnesota may simply not have the DNA to “play a complete game” and win by 10+ points.
2 – Greg Joseph produced a desperately needed flawless performance. He didn’t miss an extra point — yes, you read that right — and was perfect on field goals. Joseph even hit one beyond 50 yards, his first such field goal in about three months. This game could be a confidence booster for the South African.
3 – Once upon a time, from about noon CST to 1:30 pm CST, the Vikings played their best half of the 2022 season. The defense was smolderingly good. The offense hadn’t devolved into 3-and-Out and hell. And the scoreboard indicated 20-3 — a possible romp in the works. But nope. The Vikings tried to give it back, like the 2021 Thursday nighter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team should be on HBO every week will all the in-game plot twists.
4 – Sauce Gardner covers an area or side of the football field. Some attempted to tease Sauce Gardner vs. Justin Jefferson throughout the week, but it was really Sauce versus a side of the field.
5 – On defense, in the 1st and 2nd Quarters, the Jets held Vikings pass-catchers on virtually every play. They were flagged twice for it, but the green guys were holding Jefferson and friends every time Cousins threw it.
6 – Jalen Reagor’s insertion in the offense was delectable and should not cease. The mini-bomb he caught from Kirk Cousins — after Cousins was thoroughly destroyed — was marvelous. The guy is better than “just a punt returner,” and Kevin O’Connell should split WR3 snaps between K.J. Osborn and Reagor.
7 – Fans should feel lucky Cousins didn’t leave the game due to injury. He was abused in the first three quarters — even as the Vikings climbed to a 20-3 lead. The man is tough as nails.
8 – Don’t look now, but Dalvin Cook has played an entirely healthy season. Well, he may be hurting at times, but he has not missed a game. If it holds, it would be the first time Cook has executed a full season in his NFL career.
9 – Cousins had a nifty first-down scamper, where he took a big hit with all the trimmings. He should use his legs more often because he’s [surprisingly] not slow.
10 – The Vikings held the Jets to 3 for 16 (.187) on 3rd Downs. If you need a singular reason why Minnesota won, that is it.
11 – Nobody on the Vikings turned the ball over. If they did, especially in that yucky 3rd Quarter, the Vikings probably would’ve lost.
12 – In a span of four weeks, the Vikings played the NFL’s four best defenses per defensive DVOA. The stretch is over, resulting in a 3-1 record for Minnesota. Not bad.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).