Throughout the 2022 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings made one thing clear: they had a knack for the historical. Whether it was mounting the greatest comeback in NFL history, or Justin Jefferson breaking just about every record in the book, the 2022 Vikings met many unprecedented benchmarks. On Sunday, the Vikings made more NFL history in their Wild Card loss to the New York Giants.
However, this time around, none of the history that they made could be considered good.
Instead, the Vikings defense, already one of the worst units in the NFL this season. made things impossibly difficult for the offense this weekend. These Vikings, according to statsperform.com, became the first team during the Super Bowl era to lose a game despite completing at least 80% of their passes, committing zero turnovers, and allowing zero sacks. Prior to that, in both the regular season and the playoffs, teams were 47-0. These teams are now 47-1.
Granted, the “zero sacks” statistic doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Kirk Cousins was pressured on nearly half of his drop backs on Sunday, but some quick decision making allowed him to avoid a disastrous sack throughout the day. Say what you will about his decision on the final offensive play of the game, but the Vikings did not lose this game solely, or even largely, because of that play.
Instead, the Vikings lost because of a complete inability to contain the Giants offense throughout the day. Daniel Jones got virtually whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it. This allowed him to set an NFL record of his own during this game.
Jones, the sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft who averages 214.9 passing yards per game throughout his career, became the first QB in NFL history to record 300+ passing yards, 2+ passing TDs, and 70+ rushing yards in a playoff game. If a defense gives up numbers like that, it’s going to be tough to win in any situation.
Overall, this final game of the Vikings season simply re-emphasizes Minnesota’s need to revamp their defensive personnel and scheme this offseason. They became far too predictable as the season wore on, and it showed by how teams continuously piled up yards on them.
By giving up 431 total yards to the Giants on Sunday, Minnesota became just the 11th team in NFL history to give up 400+ yards in a game at least 10 separate times (regular season and playoffs combined), per Stathead.
They are also just the fourth team in NFL history to play at least 10 such games and still finish with at least a .500 record during them. The other three are as follows:
- 2011 Green Bay Packers (10-2, with Aaron Rodgers at QB)
- 2012 New Orleans Saints (6-6, with Drew Brees at QB)
- 2018 Kansas City Chiefs (6-5, with Patrick Mahomes at QB)
The 2012 Saints didn’t make the playoffs, and each of the 2011 Packers and 2018 Chiefs were bounced in games where their defenses allowed 400+ yards one final time.
In short, the Vikings simply didn’t play a winning formula on the defensive side of the ball, and it showed during much of the year. Instead, they relied on their offense to keep them in games, and for the most part it worked. That is, until they found themselves going up against a Wink Martindale defense that made just enough adjustments to hold them at bay.
We’ll see what type of changes the defense undergoes during the offseason, but if the Vikings want to remain competitive with what looks like a brutal schedule in 2023, they will need to shake things up in a serious way on that side of the ball.
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.