Vikings now 9-2 after offense carries them to a different one-score win

When Thanksgiving ended, that they had reached 9-2 the onerous method. However the Minnesota Vikings will take it. 

Minnesota has gained yet one more one-score recreation. It is the one method they know the way to win this season, apparently; the Vikings have the NFL’s second-best profitable share however the 14th-best level differential. All however one in all their victories this yr have come by eight or fewer factors and sometimes embody some nail-biting end. See Week 10 in Buffalo for current dramatic proof.

However whereas Thursday evening’s recreation ended the best way so many others had this season, there was one thing totally different this time round. The workforce was coming off an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys final weekend — a kind of video games the place nothing went their method. They wanted a win this week, four-day turnaround be damned. And because the faux snow fell as a part of pregame festivities at U.S. Financial institution Stadium on a cold Minnesota Thanksgiving evening, a resolve got here with it. 

The neon lights have been brilliant, a SKOL chant roared from the group. However on the sphere? On No. 8’s face, particularly? It was nothing however calm.

Within the first Thanksgiving recreation hosted in Minnesota, all eyes have been on the Vikings but once more. Prime time has almost all the time spelled bother for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Early on, this recreation seemed to comply with that actual narrative too, with Cousins getting picked off by New England’s Jonathan Jones within the first quarter. However that prior calm by no means left his face. Even when Minnesota solely scored a area purpose on their subsequent possession, Cousins stored at it. They scored a landing following that and took the lead.

There have been 5 lead adjustments through the recreation. There have been 5 even scores, too. New England moved at will towards a missing Vikings secondary, down a number of starters and giving up the second-most yards of any workforce within the league previous to the sport. Minnesota could not get stress for many of the recreation, both. Most likely a symptom of inside lineman Dalvin Tomlinson being inactive but once more. However the Vikings’ confidence nonetheless did not waver.

“We don’t have any doubt at all,” mentioned veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson. “With the guys we have in this locker room, we understand how to prepare and win ballgames. We’ve done it throughout the season, thus far […] If we can continue that going, continue to build confidence, we’ll see where it takes us in the long haul.”

Thursday was a take a look at of that confidence, particularly because it pertains to gamers like cornerback Duke Shelley, the workforce’s fourth-string nook. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones picked on Shelley all evening to blended outcomes. The Vikings gave up a complete of 364 yards by means of the air on 39 cross makes an attempt from Jones.

In the direction of the top of the sport, Minnesota appeared to lastly begin getting artistic up entrance, and outcomes adopted. They sacked Jones twice within the fourth quarter after solely attending to him as soon as earlier than. Danielle Hunter bought one on third down simply earlier than the two-minute warning that pressured the Patriots right into a fourth-and-16 attempt. Ross Blacklock bought one which took a valuable 25 seconds off the clock within the ultimate minute. The protection figured issues out by the top and closed.

The offense, in the meantime, stored Minnesota within the recreation through the time in between. The Vikings accomplished 81.6% of their passes on the evening. That is the second-highest completion share towards a Invoice Belichick-led Patriots workforce ever.

It was largely due to broad receiver Justin Jefferson, who caught all however two of his targets. He wanted simply 55 yards coming into the sport to interrupt the document for many receiving yards by any participant in his first three seasons; a document beforehand held by Randy Moss. Jefferson caught 9 of 11 passes thrown his method for 139 yards and a landing. And would you consider that is solely the fifth-highest whole of the season for him?

Following the loss to Dallas, along with calling it ‘embarrassing’ and saying that wasn’t Vikings soccer the best way it is meant to be performed, Jefferson known as for extra changes throughout the offense and throughout the recreation. They’d carried out the identical factor again and again towards the Cowboys to abysmal outcomes.

Jefferson bought his changes on Sunday towards an excellent New England protection.

“They definitely gave us some mixed coverages throughout the game, doubled me a few times, but that didn’t stop Kirk [Cousins] from giving me those 50/50 balls or letting me go up and catch them,” mentioned Jefferson after the sport. “This whole year, ever since I’ve been here, I’ve been asking him to do it. I feel like every single week he’s getting more and more confident to give me those type of balls and I just love going out there and making a play.”

These 50/50 balls largely got here down the sphere. Jefferson caught his twenty first cross of 20 or extra yards through the recreation. He is now surpassed Tyreek Hill’s whole this yr. His six-yard landing cross got here on Minnesota’s first drive of the sport, the fourth time he is carried out that this season. No different participant within the NFL has greater than two opening-drive receiving touchdowns. 

Jefferson additionally accomplished a cross to Adam Thielen on the drive too, turning into the primary participant to finish a cross and catch a landing on a gap drive since 2004.

This model of Vikings soccer is enjoyable, albeit in all probability hectic for Minnesota followers. However they’re popping out on the appropriate aspect of those video games for the primary time shortly. They have been 6-8 in one-score contests final season. They’ve gained all eight to date this yr.

Their cross protection shall be an even bigger downside towards higher groups down the stretch. If changes have been wanted on offense coming into this recreation, Minnesota should enterprise out of its Cowl-2 consolation zone going ahead. They do not have the wholesome personnel to run it. However ought to Tomlinson return subsequent weekend — and all indicators level to him doing so — they could have a hope and a prayer of attending to quarterbacks earlier than they will throw, and take some stress off the ailing secondary. 

Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings eat turkey legs on the sphere after defeating the New England Patriots at U.S. Financial institution Stadium. (Picture by David Berding/Getty Photographs.)

“My goal here is to have our organization ready to put it all together, even when people don’t give us a chance or when adversity hits,” mentioned O’Connell after the sport. “That’s when I happen to believe the best parts of our team come out. I think that will continue to serve us well as we continue to improve as a football team this year.” 

These wins have not come straightforward for the Vikings this season, however they’re going to take 9-2. Even when it is the onerous method.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports activities. Carmen had earlier stops with The Draft Community and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, together with 2020, which added the title of Tremendous Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You may comply with Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

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