Upon Further Review: Vikings can’t keep up vs. Chiefs
This isn’t the first time that Matt Moore, the 35-year-old journeyman tapped to back up Patrick Mahomes, has beaten the Minnesota Vikings.
Moore last did it on Dec. 12, 2009, guiding the Panthers to a 26-7 win over the Vikings. Nearly 10 years later it remains one of the best performances of his 11-year career.
He wasn’t quite that good Sunday, but Moore did enough to keep Kansas City’s high-octane offense rolling, finishing with a season-high 275 passing yards and a touchdown, as the Chiefs downed the Vikings 26-23.
Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill went off for 140 yards and a touchdown, torching the Vikings’ defense throughout, while two other Kansas City pass catchers — Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce — had 60-plus receiving yards. Running back Damien Williams rushed for 125 yards, including a 91-yard score in the third quarter.
The Vikings couldn’t keep up.
Dalvin Cook went over 100 yards from scrimmage for the third straight week, but was one of just two Vikings to go over 50; Laquon Treadwell had three catches for 58 yards. Stefon Diggs, who had exploded for 604 receiving yards and three touchdowns over his past five games, was held to just one catch for four yards. Adam Thielen played just seven snaps before a nagging hamstring injury forced him out of the game.
Kirk Cousins threw three touchdowns but managed just 220 yards and completed just 50% of his passes, his lowest rate since Week 2.
It all came to a head on the Vikings’ final two possessions. They went three-and-out on both, losing seven yards, while the Chiefs converted on a pair of field goals, one to tie the game, and one to win it.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The Vikings’ pass rush came up with five sacks on the day, their best effort of the season. Everson Griffen led the way, registering a season-high three tackles for loss. He motored around Chiefs tackle Cam Erving with the Vikings nursing a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter, sacking Moore for a two-yard loss. It was wiped out on the next play, when Moore connected with Hill again on consecutive completions of 11 and 41 yards to set up Butker’s game-tying field goal.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
You’d be forgiven for literally forgetting about running back Ameer Abdullah, the former second-round pick who spent parts of three seasons attempting to establish himself atop the Detroit Lions’ depth chart before joining the Vikings last year. Used primarily as a kick returner since arriving in Minnesota, Abdullah had played sparingly in 15 games with the Vikings entering Sunday’s contest. He played just nine snaps on offense against the Chiefs — up from just three a week ago — rushing once for two yards and hauling in his lone target for a 16-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Kansas City seemingly forgot about Abdullah as well, leaving him completely uncovered out of the backfield on third-and-4. It was his first score since Dec. 31, 2017.
Harrison Smith appeared to have saved the day after Moore connected with Hill again on a 41-yard pass late in the fourth quarter. Smith motored through the Chiefs’ line a few plays later, after head coach Mike Zimmer dialed up a blitz on third-and-13. He dropped Moore for a 14-yard loss, setting up a 54-yard field-goal try. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Kansas City wasn’t quite out of range. Butker, who entered Sunday’s game 0-2 from 50-plus yards out this season, matched his career long with a 54-yard field goal to tie the game. A three-and-out, a botched punt and a few more big gains later, Butker connected from 44 yards out to end it.
The Chiefs’ game-breaking speed was on full display Sunday. Hill went off for 140 yards and a touchdown on six catches, while Williams torched the Vikings’ defense with a 91-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Williams reached 20.78 mph on the play, the second-fastest top speed recorded by Next Gen Stats in Week 9.
THEY SAID IT
“They did a nice job in playing the run. They did a good job mixing up the fronts.” — Mike Zimmer.
“You know it is not ideal, but you look at their sideline and they are missing some people. You understand that at this point in the season you have to respond when you face adversity and we are probably healthier than many teams. You have to find a way to still get the job done.” — Kirk Cousins on losing Adam Thielen to a hamstring injury.
“I think there were some plays [Kirk Cousins] would rather get back. I don’t think we helped him a lot today.” — Mike Zimmer.
“We made some mistakes, but it was a close game. We’ve just got to keep playing complimentary football, go out there and win the game. I’m just frustrated. We wanted this win. We’ve just got to go out there and execute better.” — Everson Griffen.
The Vikings had a chance to pull even with the Packers, who fell to 7-2 following an unexpected loss to the Chargers on the road. In the short term, they could struggle to gain ground. The Vikings visit the Cowboys in Week 10, then host the Broncos ahead of a bye in Week 12.