Vikings Victorious In Very Exciting London Showdown

October 4, 2022
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The Vikings made enough clutch plays to beat the Saints in London in Week 4. This squad is not perfect, but we have to love the resiliency they are showing to win close games. This one was iced by a double doink, courtesy of Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz, and it was the perfect play to cap this exciting football match.

The Vikings Scored First

I mentioned in my game preview that one of my keys to the game was that the Vikings needed to start fast. I wanted them to break the habit of falling behind early, and they did just that. Kirk Cousins led the Vikings to six points on their first possession of the game.

It nearly stalled after an offensive pass interference call that gave the Vikings third and goal from the 15, but Alexander Mattison took a well-designed screen pass in for a score on the next play. The Vikings went 75 yards on the drive and ate up nearly seven minutes of the first-quarter clock.

Chris Olave Is Going To Be A Star

Once Andy Dalton was named the starter, it was hard to believe the Saints would air it out effectively. They definitely did not light it up, but Dalton was competent, and Chris Olave looked the part of a go-to receiver.

His stat line was relatively modest – four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown – but he made some clutch plays. His touchdown tied the game for the Saints in the first half, and one of his catches was the 32-yard reception that helped give Wil Lutz an attempt to send the game into overtime. He was targeted seven times as well, so the Saints clearly are looking his way for contributions. I thought Olave played well in a game without Michael Thomas, even though the numbers do not necessarily stand out.

Greg Joseph Redeems Himself…For The Most Part

After the Saints tied the game, it became the Greg Joseph show in London. I mentioned I was worried about him after he missed two 56-yarders last week, but I also know that he can be a big part of our success this season.

He was huge for us in London hitting all five of his field goal attempts. I won’t pretend his missed extra point wasn’t a big, unnecessary mistake, but his field goal perfection was our only source of points during the second and third quarters. Then, of course, he hit what was to be the game-winning field goal with 24 seconds left on the clock. Teams that advance deep into the playoffs need to have a clutch kicker, and I think Joseph can be that for the Vikings.

The Saints Are Legit

Some may look at the close nature of this game and say that the Vikings underperformed, beating a team that was without their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, and their number one wide receiver, Michael Thomas. But this team came to play, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Every time it looked like the Vikings were going to build a comfortable lead, the Saints’ defense came through. Tyrann Mathieu had his first INT as a Saint on the Vikings’ third drive of the game. This turned into a touchdown drive for the Saints which tied the game at seven early in the second quarter.

The Saints also had three timely sacks on Kirk Cousins and were consistent throughout the game. They held the Vikings to an awful conversion rate on third downs, five for 14. There will be people who will say it was the Vikings’ offense that missed too many opportunities, and they definitely did miss plenty, but this defense is top tier. They were the reason the Saints hung around until the end.

Justin Jefferson And Adam Thielen Had Big Days

As my colleague Eli mentions here, one of the biggest takeaways from the London game was Justin Jefferson coming out of his two-game slump. He led the Vikings in receiving with 10 catches for 147 yards. He added a cheeky rushing touchdown to his stat line, and it was a breath of fresh air for Vikings fans around the world.

The even bigger good news for me was that Thielen played a major factor as well. Thielen finished with eight catches for 72 yards, and I believe our offense needs to have two contributing receivers to build sustained success throughout the game.

Vikings’ Defense Is Good, Not Great

Stat-wise, the Vikings’ defense would be classified as not good; they are ranked 27th overall in yards allowed per game. Further, they were very susceptible to the run. They allowed 4.1 yards per carry, which isn’t too alarming, but it was more of the eye test that concerned me.

Latavius Murray especially looked like he had a lot of openings throughout the game, and had one of two rushing touchdowns for the Saints. Taysom Hill added the other one, on a play where everyone in the stadium knew they were going to run, and they scored anyway.

However, I still think this Vikings defense is good. Za’Darius Smith got on the sack stat sheet, and I thought our DBs played well overall. I guess my point is that I’d like them to take another step and hold a team under twenty points. This week against the Bears would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Vikings Add Another Conference Win

The Vikings carry a 3-1 record at the moment, which is also good enough to be the leaders in the north. I am encouraged by the fact that we have had to win some games without our best effort, and also that we have two key divisional victories.

Also, I love that the Vikings tallied another NFC win. I expect these Vikings to be in the race for the NFC North crown, and overall playoff seeding is important as well. These early conference games can still play a key role later on in the season.

What’s Next For The Purple?

The Vikings host the Bears in Week 5 in a rematch of last season’s final game. The Bears are surprisingly 2-2, but this is a game that should result in a win for the Vikings. I’ll be looking at how the Vikings’ rush defense holds up against the Bears’ formidable rushing attack, and I’ll be expecting a couple of turnovers forced off of second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields, though, is capable of making plays out of nothing, and this will be another key to a Vikings victory this Sunday. We have a good amount of positive momentum going right now, and we need to keep our foot on the gas, to utilize an egregious cliche.

A Few More Things

Most of this recap looked at some relatively big-picture things, but I’d be remiss not to at least mention Kirk Cousins. He has been good so far this year. I know he is a polarizing player for Vikings fans, but I do think we can win with Kirk. We just also need to have the whole team contribute.

Dalvin Cook ran 20 times for only 76 yards, but I didn’t dwell on that due to how much I respect the Saints’ run defense. I think Cook has looked good this year, and I fully expect him to give us some explosive plays throughout the season.

There was some sad news from Sunday’s game as rookie S Lewis Cine suffered a compound fracture to his lower left leg. This article on Vikings.com relays some of the thoughts and comments from coach O’Connell, and I do not believe there is an official timetable yet for his return. He did stay behind in London following his surgery, and the team is going to make sure he is healthy before he makes a return to the field.

What’s On Your Mind?

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