4 takeaways from Vikings’ Thursday night win vs. Patriots
The Minnesota Vikings made a statement during primetime on Thanksgiving night with a 33-26 win. Kirk Cousins found a new alter ego that trumps his primetime struggles: Thanksgiving Kirk Cousins.
He was in his bag all game. The interception wasn’t even on him as he made the correct read but he wasn’t able to step up into the throw and it missed the mark. Outside of that, he was tremendous and the numbers reflected it.
The game was loaded with different storylines, but there were four major takeaways that are the focus of this team moving forward.
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Kevin O'Connell is the real deal
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off of an embarrassing 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys just four days prior to Thursday night’s game, this was a major test for O’Connell and how he would handle adversity. Well, he did so with flying colors. The Vikings came out to play and found a way to win with a massively short-handed secondary. He has the team both full bought in and believing in themselves and each other.
The major difference between O’Connell and Mike Zimmer is how the former has embraced his quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“Last time I checked, that game started at 7:25. That makes it a prime-time football game. Your quarterback went 30 for 37 for 299 and 3 touchdowns.”
The difference is not only palpable, but it’s massive in the success of this team.
Adjustments need to be made on defense
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s not all on defensive coordinator Ed Donatell for the poor defensive performance. They were short Dalvin Tomlinson and three cornerbacks but even so, you can’t make Mac Jones look like a superstar quarterback. There weren’t any noticeable adjustments to help generate a pass rush and the Vikings continued to allow the Patriots to attack the seams with ease. Moving forward, the Vikings need some semblance of adjustments on defense, especially when they are short handed.
The Vikings adjusted well in missing Christian Darrisaw
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
Not having an all-pro caliber left tackle playing in the game would usually be devastating for an offense. Heck, it was last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Once Darrisaw left the game, Blake Brandel came in and there were struggles and the Vikings couldn’t adjust to the dominant pass rush.
On Thursday night, the Vikings had the ability to gameplan for Brandel getting the start and, outside of one sack allowed, you didn’t even notice Brandel. The Vikings used multiple tight end sets and C.J. Ham to help provide him support and it worked really well. Those kinds of gameplan adjustments are critical for sustained success.
Justin Jefferson is on a Hall of Fame trajectory
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a first down against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
It’s truly amazing being able to cover someone who is already garnering Hall of Fame discussion. Jefferson even mentioned that possibility when he was asked about breaking Randy Moss’ receiving yards in the first three seasons record.
“It means a lot. It means that my course of reaching to the Hall of Fame is near.”
Jefferson has been remarkable this season, making the spectacular catches look easy and the impossible look plausible. Jefferson has the full trust and confidence of Cousins and that has brought upon a lot of excellent plays and moments this season.