David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Winning ugly is better than losing ugly
Coming into this game, the Minnesota Vikings had been on an historic run. QB Kirk Cousins set an NFL record with yards passing and passer rating over three games, the Vikes offense had been on a three game stretch that’s been more productive than at any other point in team history, and the 1-6 Washington Redskins were just supposed to be another bump in the road.
That bump almost turned into a pothole, as old friends Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson returned home wearing the colors of the opponent, and they gave the Vikings everything they could handle. But on an off night when things weren’t going the way things were supposed to, new friend Kirk Cousins played almost mistake free football, and the Vikings made enough big plays to get a win on night when they weren’t firing on all cylinders. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t efficient, but at least they took care of business, didn’t they Bachman Turner Overdrive?
If it were easy as fishin’
You could be a musician
If you could make sounds loud or mellow
Get a second-hand guitar
Chances are you’ll go far
If you get in with the right bunch of fellows
People see you having fun
Just a-lying in the sun
Tell them that you like it this way
It’s the work that we avoid
And we’re all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day
And we be
Taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
We be been taking care of business (it’s all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime
Your SMR that will never be seen in public wearing an all purple outfit follows.
Blue Chip Stocks
Dalvin Cook, RB: On a night where running was difficult early on for Cook, he made up for it by making ridiculous highlight plays on some screen pass receptions. In the second quarter, when the Vikings finally got untracked and scored a touchdown, Cook’s effort to get across the goal line with just seconds left in the half was superlative. He also took a 31 yard catch and run down to the eight yard line, which was one of the top plays of the game for the Vikings. By the end of the evening, Cook had 98 yards rushing, 73 yards receiving, and the game’s lone touchdown.
Dan Bailey, K: Hey, remember last week when Bailey missed a 40-something field goal and we all got that ‘here we go again’ feeling? Yeah, that went away tonight, at least for me. Bailey was 4/4 on field goals, hitting from 50, 29, 27, and 40 yards, and he made the lone extra point.
‘Whew, thank goodness for the kicker’ isn’t something I thought I’d be saying as a Vikings fan for awhile, but tonight, Bailey was money and he played a large part in the Vikings win.
Alexander Mattison, RB: Officially, Mattison had 61 yards on 13 carries, including a remarkable 28 yard run on third and 19 that daggered the Redskins. Unofficially, he had about 247* yards on 17 carries that were nullified due to penalties. Seriously, on that epic drive that ended the game, he had 30 yards on consecutive plays that were nullified by holding penalties. Mattison is making the folks that called him a mistake pick in the third round look foolish, and he is one of the most violent runners in the NFL.
*Maybe not that much, but it kinda seemed like it.
Kirk Cousins, QB: Tonight was bit of a weird game, and it’s kind of evidenced in Cousins’ statline: 23/26, 285 yards…and no touchdowns. But, he also had not interceptions, and no turnovers. Cousins and the Vikings did a really good job of moving the ball between the 20’s, but self destructed once they got in the red zone. Whether it was an inability to run, bad protection, or bad play calls, the Vikes were just not as efficient down there as they have been the last three weeks. But, on the flip side, Cousins played a solid game and didn’t make any mistakes, and when the Vikes did get within the shadow of the end zone, they did come away with points.
Xavier Rhodes, CB: It’s becoming more and more apparent that one of two things has happened to Xavier Rhodes: he is either playing hurt at a level that he probably shouldn’t be playing, or his skill set has diminished so much he is no longer feared by opposing teams. Tonight, Case Keenum and the Washington Redskins targeted Rhodes, and whoever he was covering they threw to, and Rhodes either allowed a completion, allowed a completion and missed a tackle, or was flagged for pass interference.
Pat Elflein, G: Elflein has had some rough games, but this might have been his worst. He was called for three holding penalties, one of which was in the red zone and one of which cancelled out a nice Mattison run. Washington was also able to generate a lot of pressure up the middle, and Elflein was a big reason for that. I still don’t know what Mike Zimmer has against Brett Jones, but I think we need to have a discussion about seeing what Jones could do. And as a Pat Elflein fan, it pains me to say that.
Buy-Stefon Diggs when he can catch and run. I love Stefon Diggs. He’s one of the most exciting players in the NFL, and yeah, we know he has a knack for the big, MIRACULOUS play. He had several of those tonight, and had a couple of huge catches, including a 49 yarder on third and 20 in the third quarter. Diggs is electric with the football, and I love to watch him make a play. He had 143 yards on 7 catches tonight, and whenever he had the ball he made something happen.
— Scott Hanson (@ScottHanson) October 25, 2019
Sell: Stefon Diggs catch and run…and fumble. But Diggs is starting to get a reputation for fumbling the ball, and it’s hurting the Vikings. On Minnesota’s first drive, he fumbled at the end of a nice catch and run, and kind of gave everyone an ‘uh-oh’ feeling that we didn’t need to live with all night.
Stefon Diggs has more fumbles than any non-QB this year.
— Brian Hall (@MNBrianHall) October 25, 2019
Buy: Two minute drive to end the half. In what was arguably the best two minute drive to end a half in the Mike Zimmer era, the Vikes took over at their own 25 with 1:57 left and the game tied up 6-6. A series of great play calls, Dalvin Cook magic, and weird Bill Callahan timeouts culminated with Cook scoring from the four with 11 seconds left, giving the Vikes a 13-6 lead they would not relinquish.
Big Buy: The drive to end the game. I usually put a sell here, but this needs to be mentioned. With just under nine minutes to go, the Vikes got the ball on their own 34, up 19-9. I kinda thought they would go on like a four or five minute drive, get some points, and effectively put the game away. What they did was epic, even though they scored no points. They ran the ball 16 straight times, and didn’t give the ball back until they had moved down to the Washington five, with only 26 seconds left in the game. The drive was highlighted by a 28 yard run by Mattison on 3rd and 19 that effectively ended the game.
Buy: Defense only giving up two field goals in the first half. The Vikings defense had a rough first half, but stiffened up when the Redskins got within the shadow of the end zone. They were really tested when Xavier Rhodes was called for PI that put the ball inside the five, but the Vikes held Washington to just a field goal.
Sell: Defense letting the Redskins drive the field. Still, old friend Case Keenum worked over Rhodes and Trae Waynes for much of the first half, making easy throws, gaining yards in chunks, and one of the worst offenses in the NFL moved with ease between the 20’s.
Buy: Not punting, all night. When you see that Dalvin Cook ran for almost 100 yards, Kirk Cousins passed for almost 300, and Stefon Diggs had almost a buck fifty in receiving, it’s easy to believe that the Vikings didn’t punt.
Sell: Vikings in the red zone, most of the night. Yet when you see all those stats, it’s hard to believe this game was in doubt until well into the 4th quarter. That’s because the Vikings were unable to convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns, settling for four field goals.
Buy: The sneak at end of the third quarter. I liked the call. They were up 16-9 and had an opportunity to put the game out of reach, and I’d much rather see them play to win than play not to lose. Yes, Minnesota was on their own 34, but Keenum had been knocked out, his replacement, Dwayne Haskins, was shaky, and convert that first down and there’s a good shot they Vikes can go down the field and effectively end the game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if you can’t make one yard, you don’t deserve to win the game.
Sell: The execution of the sneak. The Redskins defensive line got a great push and stonewalled Cousins on his sneak attempt, taking over on the Vikes 34. Thankfully, a couple plays later, Haskins airmailed a throw to Terry McLaurin, it bounced off his hands, and Anthony Harris came down with it, ending the threat.
Buy: Winning on an off night. Winning in the NFL is hard, and you’re not going to roll up 500 yards of offense every week. Some games, you need to grind out a win, be happy you won almost in spite of yourself, and get ready for the next game. Look, if you’re going to have bad game, it’s better to have it against a 1-6 team that you can still beat.
Sell: Can’t have off games coming up. The Vikes schedule is going to get a lot tougher in the coming weeks, and the Vikes offense can’t afford to struggle running the ball early, nor fail to convert in the red zone. Against teams like Kansas City and Dallas, that could be fatal.