Coming into South Beach on Sunday the Minnesota Vikings needed to find a way to win with opposing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa not under center. Kevin O’Connell knew he was going up against a strong coach in Mike McDaniel, and a solid Miami Dolphins defense. Despite the slow start, he drew up a gameplan that picked it’s spots.
Early on in Sunday’s action it was clear that Miami was intent on stacking the box against Dalvin Cook. He had just 17 yards on his first nine carries, and after three totes, he managed only a single yard. It was tough sledding and the Vikings offensive line struggled to open any holes for the Florida native.
Through the air, things weren’t exactly smooth sailing either. Kirk Cousins had less than 100 yards passing just a short period before halftime, and Justin Jefferson had all but been removed as an option. Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr. worked as security blankets, and Cousins found himself really needing to work in order to get them the ball.
Then the game turned. O’Connell was able to find a way for the offense to get in a groove, and it manifested opportunity for everyone. Jefferson had just 20 yards midway through this one, and wound up generating another 87 yards on five more receptions the rest of the way. Thielen broke his scoring drought and hauled in four passes of his own. It was Cook’s 53-yard scamper that put this one on ice, however.
Despite Cook rushing just four more times after the slow start, he ripped off the “big one” on a play where he waited and found a hole. Returning to Florida, Cook sprinted up the middle and broke two tackles before racing to the end zone. Even though the ground game was so slow to start, the Vikings didn’t abandon it and Cook made O’Connell’s belief pay off.
You’d be hard-pressed to suggest this was a pretty win for Minnesota. It was however, not a game they needed to come from behind in the 4th quarter. They led most of the way, but it seemed as though Miami was never far off from evening up the game or taking a lead. Teddy Bridgewater’s drive following Cook’s touchdown brought the Dolphins back within a score, and it felt like Minnesota may still try to find a way for this one to slip away.
No matter what, the only statistic that carries weight at the end of the day is in the win column. The Vikings have won ugly when they’ve needed to this year, and a road win against a good opponent while certain portions of the offense are stagnant is hardly something to be disappointed in.
This is a great game to build off of going into the bye week, and the Vikings can feel good about being one of the few NFL teams with five wins through the first six weeks.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.