I'm not really proud of the defense. They gave up 159 yards rushing on a 4.8 average to a Rams team that came into the game averaging 103 yards per game on 4.1 yards per rush (23rd ranked rushing game in the league). They conceded big rush after big rush, often through huge holes to the run side or wide open cutback lanes. I watched the Vikings defensive ends repeatedly allow themselves to get sucked inside, leaving only the DBs on the back side to try to close down those cutbacks. And on the attack side the ends would get sealed inside and fail to do anything to force those wide sweeps inside.J. Kapp 11 wrote: ↑Sun Dec 26, 2021 4:21 pmWell, there you go.
I said Special Teams would be a key to the game, and we basically lost the game on a punt return. Other than that, the game was even. The Vikings just aren't good enough to win games giving up touchdowns on special teams.
Proud of the defense. They played hard and held the Rams down for the most part. You're not going to shut that team out, but to pick Matthew Stafford three times and hang in there for most of the game was a good showing.
KJ Osborn had a nice game, but his drop at the goal line leading to the interception was so huge. Ball hit him right in the hands. Gotta bring that one in.
Tough game against a really good team. Both teams were down several players, but they were just a bit better thanks to the punt return.
Oh ... and it was nice to watch a game that didn't feature the referees. Very few flags, no blatantly bad calls that I can remember.
It was really poor run defense yet again by the front 7. This is something we've seen from them all year long pretty much regardless of who has been in the lineup. Their best DL right now is Sheldon Richardson, a retread free agent signing. Prior to that their best DL was Everson Griffen, another retread free agent. Nobody in the front 7 was making plays against the run in this game, and the ones who have made them consistently against it all season are few and far between if there are any at all.
They also got precious little actual pressure on Matt Stafford who played probably one of the worst games I've seen him play. He made a lot of unforced errors today and to their credit the Vikings defense took some of those gifts. But this defense did not play playoff-caliber defense today. They were better than the offense, but not good. The pass defense wasn't great either but it wasn't as exposed as the run defense because the Rams never needed to expose it. Had they been forced to I'm sure we would have watched more 50-50 lob passes be completed or PI calls to keep Ram drives going. But despite Stafford being so generous, the Rams never trailed and never needed to push the issue.
The Vikings offense is just bad. Stats-wise, it looked like they were OK, but that is only because they had to try to play late-game catchup again and when they start winging it around in those situations they tend to pile up a bunch of largely meaningless yards. Whoop-dee-do. They couldn't run or pass consistently. They couldn't score until near the end. I can't really blame the poor performance on Cousins. I mean, his accuracy has been spotty as of late, but it's not like the WRs are getting open for him or the OL is blocking well for him. Speaking of that OL, wow. Spotty is being generous, but even if individual players play well, you've got spectacular, almost immediate failures by enough of them enough of the time that it really doesn't matter. Donald went by and around and through Darrisaw, Bradbury, and Udoh at least once each by my count, and it was probably worse than that. Mattison had some holes to run through, but more often than not he didn't. This "zone blocking athletic offensive line" concept needs to be sent to the trash bin. The Vikings need to find a center with some sand in his pants to stand up to interior bull rushes. Udoh is not a freakin' guard. He's a tackle and a marginal one at that. Darrisaw needs a full offseaon and to put in some film room time. He was abused today on several plays, both pass and run blocking. In short, the Vikings offense, for all their season-long stats, sucks. They have fatal flaws that simply cannot be overcome, even if they had a much better QB. That doesn't mean Cousins gets a pass, because he could be better too, but even if you put the league's better QBs back there they would still struggle against disruptive DLs. Their OL simply cannot hold up against fronts with physical, active DL.
They are out of the playoffs now and I suspect they will finish out of the playoffs. The Packers need to keep winning to get HFA throughout the playoffs and the refs seem inclined to help them achieve that. The Vikings would need to play at a level they have not played at so far this year to have a chance of winning in Lambeau next week. One more loss should finally cook this team's goose for the season.
And then we all will wait with baited breath to see if the Wilfs have finally had enough of this nonsense, and if they have, to what extent are they willing to go to get the ship turned in the right direction. My sincere hope is that they start with Spielman and work their way down, including to the players, and starting with the players who did not get vaccinated, even if that means half the team. Get rid of the me-firsters and start looking for people who do what guys like Cook say.