Wild Card Weekend offers us another upset. What a great game, the Vikings prove to everyone that they are for real. This might be the most lopsided overtime game I have ever watched. From the time that the Vikings defense forced the Saints to kick a FG on the opening drive, they were in complete control from my perspective. The Vikings didn’t seemed rattled by the dome and they were able to stick to their game plan and win the football game. Cousins outplayed Brees, Cook outplayed Kamara and Zimmer out maneuvered Sean Payton.
Dalvin Cook was a huge part of the Vikings success, 95 yards rushing, two touchdowns and because of his success the Vikings controlled the clock for the majority of the game. Kirk Cousins, good for you man. He silenced a lot of his critics today, he only threw for 242 yards but he made some of the most clutch throws that you can make from a Quarterback, in one of the toughest environments in football. The throw he made on the final drive of the game in overtime to Thielen was an absolute perfect throw that put the Vikings inside the five yard line. Speaking of Adam Thielen, he was phenomenal today, making big catches all game long, crucial third down receptions, deep balls and everything in-between. Thielen caught 7 balls for 129 yards today.
The Vikings defense was very impressive. We knew this defense was good, in recent years we have heard what they were capable of, today they showed it. Mike Zimmer dialed up a multitude of coverages and packages that were able to slow down the Eagles just enough They held the one and only Drew Brees and the Saints to only 20 points in their own building, that is impressive in and of itself. What I found most impressive was the way they made Brees look uncomfortable the ENTIRE game. They sacked Brees three times and forced an interception as well.
For the Saints, Taysom Hill was an absolute monster out there. He threw a 50 yard pass, rushed for another 50 and caught two balls for 25 yard and a touchdown. He was the most impactful player on the field by far. The Saints are unable to avenge the recent playoff heartbreak and twice in the last three years they have been eliminated by the Vikings.
Not too many people gave the Vikings much of a chance against the Saints and you never know what a chip on the shoulder of a team can do during a playoff run. The Vikings have a real chance of going to the Super Bowl in my opinion. They can run the ball efficiently and if their defense is able to play as well as they are capable of playing, they are a tough team to beat. We have seen teams get hot at the right time, specifically this team reminds me a little bit of the 07-08 Giants who were able to play defense, run the ball and had a Quarterback who made the clutch throws when he needed to. Will the Vikings be able to replicate that type of effort in the next two weeks, it will be difficult, but today was a clear cut example of their capability as a complete football team who can win on the road in a hostile environment.
What a way to end the game as well. Cousins drops a ball in the back corner of the end zone to Kyle Rudolph for the walk-off TD. There was potential pass interference on it and for a second the referees huddled together and thought about reviewing it. They decided against it and i’m sure that was another kick in the gut to the Saints fans who were ready to abrupt all day. Every time a flag was thrown they let the refs hear it, clearly they are far from getting over last years non-call in the NFC Championship. I would have loved to see the refs review that and then stick with the touchdown call. Would have been absolute anarchy.
Next week the Vikings will head out west to Santa Clara to take on the 49ers, the number 1 seed in the NFC. Right now, I like the Vikings to win this game, the 49ers have been great all year but something about them doesn’t click for me. I might be way off base here but this type of victory that the Vikings had today seems like something that could end up being the start of something special for this team. I never thought I would be able to convince myself on Kirk Cousins but here we are.