After sport of the 12 months, it is time to deal with the Vikings as contenders

Three large statements got here bounding out of Buffalo earlier than the Minnesota Vikings even started their newest social gathering aircraft journey house, all discovering widespread preliminary settlement.

The primary, and maybe most evident, was that the Vikings’ nail-biting, head-scratching, thrill-seeking 33-30 victory over the Payments was an instantaneous lock for sport of the season.

Subsequent was that in shifting to 8-1 and downing one of many Tremendous Bowl favorites on their very own turf, the Vikings are legit contenders, a declare loudly and boldly made by head coach Kevin O’Connell in his post-win locker room speech.

The third was that Justin Jefferson’s one-handed seize from the heavens, the one you both pressed rewind on 50 instances if watching stay or have been glued to in your social-media platform of selection if not, is a number one contender for the title of the best catch in NFL historical past.

Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson snags an absurd one-handed seize vs. the Payments

Minnesota's Justin Jefferson snags an absurd one-handed grab vs. the Bills

Justin Jefferson could not be stopped by the Buffalo Payments protection as he reeled in a WILD catch late within the fourth quarter.

Within the heady moments that adopted a sport with so many “what the heck” moments that some actually laudable performs turned a mere footnote, Jefferson, coming off an outing the place his 193 receiving yards instructed however a fraction of the story, had one other idea for deliberation: That the Vikings are actually a staff destined for final glory.

“It was so crazy,” Jefferson instructed reporters. “It felt like it was unreal, it felt like a movie. I told everybody, ‘this is our season.’ This means this is our season — to win out and go to the Super Bowl.”

The oddsmakers do not essentially agree, and if we’re being trustworthy, the general public has been painfully sluggish to just accept what’s now staring us within the face. The Vikings are right here, not as a sideshow for a quaint interlude, however as a drive. In a league the place it looks like everyone seems to be inside a shade of .500, their solely loss has been to the 9-0 Philadelphia Eagles.

They are not perfect; not close to it. But they are absolutely, unequivocally, provenly, and really freaking excitingly, the real deal.

They are a team to be reckoned with by any metric, measurable or otherwise, that you want to add to the conversation.

O’Connell’s group is one that can save its own skin with plays of impossible poise and athleticism, that can dig deep with the steeliest of nerve, and can — when things fall right — win it all with a miracle when all was truly lost.

‘This is the best team I’ve been around!’ – Justin Jefferson talks about the Vikings’ OT victory over the Bills

'This is the best team I've been around!' - Justin Jefferson talks about the Vikings' OT victory over the Bills

Justin Jefferson stops by to talk with Pam Oliver about the collectiveness this Minnesota Vikings team has and how the Vikings didn’t call it quits against the Buffalo Bills.

Their tight margins of victory — each of their last seven wins have been by one possession — were being held against them in the court of public opinion, evidence perhaps that the record was flimsier than the raw numbers suggested. Maybe we’ve all been looking at it the wrong way. Perhaps Minnesota’s resilience and fearlessness and ability to produce monumental plays, seemingly at a whim, is what makes it so dangerous.

They’re still fun, and they still get loud and jovial on the plane home, even if Kirk Cousins apparently passed over his bare-chested, chain-wearing celebration to Patrick Peterson this time. But the Vikings are a thing now.

The methodology isn’t complex. On offense, when things get as tricky as they were when falling 17 points behind to Josh Allen’s Bills, Cousins went with the simple procedure of looking for his best players, time and again.

“What we earned here today is the final stamp in understanding that we are one of the best teams in the league,” O’Connell told his players in the locker room, to roars of approval. “Now, we get to prove it each and every week.”

Next up are the Dallas Cowboys, 6-3 and smarting from Sunday’s overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers, at home next Sunday.

If we’re being honest, there is probably a bit of regionality to the prior skepticism about Minnesota. If Jefferson was performing these kinds of ludicrous feats in Los Angeles, or New York, or Chicago, or Dallas, he would be lauded as the biggest thing in the history of really big things. Name me someone who you think is, right of this moment, a better wide receiver, and we’ll probably get into a really good argument.

Dalvin Cook is a running danger on any play, highlighted by Sunday’s 81-yard score. The defense is a pack of wolves, hunting quarterbacks and hawking for interceptions, like the one Peterson used to ice it in overtime against Buffalo.

And then there is Cousins, the QB many love to hate, at least partly because he’s goofy and his fashion sense doesn’t really exist. But he works incessantly, has figured out that the best way to help his team is by reducing risk, and doesn’t panic when the moment arrives.

Plus, and this is not to be underestimated, he makes the Vikings serious and fun at the same time. Summed up by how, with every victory, he brings the possibility we could see a repeat of the silliest, funniest, most enjoyable three-word victory celebratory question known to mankind.

You know you do.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the day by day newsletter.  

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