The Minnesota Vikings improved to 7-1 this season, and they continue to find ways to pull wins from the jaws of defeat. They’ve now won six games in 2022 by one possession, and they are well on their way towards directly contrasting the eight games that they lost by one possession in 2021.
How have they been able to flip the script so quickly into Kevin O’Connell’s first year as a head coach? Well, it appears the Vikings have a simple motto for the 2022 season: “Belief”.
If you watch any of the postgame interviews or Kevin O’Connell’s speech following the game, this one word comes up numerous times. Let’s start with the locker room speech by the head coach. Here’s the quote that sticks out:
“I looked over at a couple of guys, we were down 10, and I said, ‘we’re going to win this game by three’. And it has nothing to do with thinking I got all the answers, or anything other than just the belief, belief, and belief that I have in this team that has removed all doubt.
Kevin O’Connell’s postgame locker room speech
Even prior to this, Dalvin Cook talked about this new belief that the 2022 Vikings have. Try to count how many times he says this one word during his postgame interview with Tom Pelissero:
From the very first question that Pelissero asks, regarding how the Vikings managed to find a way to come back from down double-digits to win, all the way to his spectacular touchdown catch during that fourth quarter comeback, and even how he hopes the Vikings can win in Buffalo next Sunday, Cook’s answer is “belief”.
It’s true, there simply seems to be a different mindset with this team, especially compared to 2020 and 2021. Even when the Vikings were winning games in clutch situations last season, the result ended up being awkward, even contentious celebrations between head coach and quarterback.
The whole mood surrounding that 2021 team seemed to be off. It probably can’t be pinned simply on Kirk Cousins, Mike Zimmer, or any one person in the locker room, either. They lost those first two road games in Cincinnati and Arizona, and it seemed to just set the tone for the rest of the year. The team was constantly under pressure from themselves, the media, and everything in between.
This year, they’ve managed to completely flip that on its head, and they are putting opponents under pressure when these clutch moments arrive. Kirk Cousins has played his best football down the stretch of games, and Minnesota’s defense continues to make timely plays when they matter most.
If the Vikings are going to go on to be Super Bowl contenders by the time February 2023 rolls around, they need to continue to show up in big moments. There will inevitably be many of them between now and then. A shared belief in one another is certainly a great place to start.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.