Upon Further Review: Vikings make worrying statement vs. Seahawks
That game isn’t likely to change any minds.
Kirk Cousins, stat machine and well-compensated contract disrupter, is now 0-8 on Monday nights. That this is an ultimately meaningless statistic, and that Cousins has been among the league’s best quarterbacks in recent weeks, won’t prevent it from advancing as a talking point.
Cousins, after all, didn’t allow 444 yards of total offense to the Seattle Seahawks, miss an extra-point try, lose a pair of fumbles or fail to stop a fake punt.
Instead, the veteran quarterback led another late-game comeback, even after losing running back Dalvin Cook to a shoulder injury, throwing for 276 yards on the night and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense, however, struggled mightily in prime time.
The defensive line pressured Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson just 12% of the time and allowed more than 200 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes looked truly washed, fuming on the sidelines after allowing a 60-yard touchdown pass towards the end of the third quarter.
All in all, it was another statement game for the Vikings. The statements: That Cousins and the offense can hang with just about anyone, and that the defense, while brilliant at times, is worryingly vulnerable from front to back.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Anthony Harris was one of the few Vikings defenders to make a play Sunday. The fifth-year safety hauled in his fourth interception of the season on a pass that was tipped twice at the line, first by defensive tackle Armon Watts, then by Wilson himself. He finished with a combined seven tackles, one pick and one pass defended, his most productive outing since Week 8. His day wasn’t without its low points — Rashaad Penny blew past Harris just as easily as he danced around the rest of the Vikings’ defense during his fourth-quarter touchdown run — but he deserves credit for what should have been a game-changing play.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
We’ve gone to bat for Rudolph in this space before, but it’s worth pointing out — again — that the veteran tight end was seemingly on his way out before signing a surprise extension in June. The Vikings drafted his apparent successor, Irv Smith Jr., last spring, but the 30-year-old isn’t done quite yet. Rudolph is tied for the team lead with six receiving touchdowns after getting the Vikings within four with a one-handed catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter. He’s averaging just 2.8 receptions per game this season and just over 25 yards, but Rudolph is somehow doing more with less in his ninth season with the Vikings.
Cook was down, Stefon Diggs was down, the ball was out and the season was surely in jeopardy. Cook’s third-quarter fumble kicked off a run of 17 unanswered points for the Seahawks, before Cousins brought the Vikings roaring back with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Diggs didn’t miss a beat, returning on the Vikings’ next possession, but Cook made his way down the tunnel and was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Cook says he should be good to go next week, but for a moment there it looked like everything from the game to the season was slipping away.
Zimmer’s defense struggled to get to Wilson, pressuring the Seahawks quarterback just four times, but their inability to contain Penny and backfield mate Chris Carson was particularly concerning. The Seahawks piled up 218 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, averaging a whopping 5.1 yards per carry. The last team to rush for 200 yards against the Vikings? The 2018 Seahawks.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s not the end of the world. It’s a four-game season left. We are still in good shape. We are still a good football team.” — Mike Zimmer.
“After a game like tonight I like to get out there tomorrow and play the next one. You just get back to work.” — Kirk Cousins.
“I’m proud of the guys. We had a chance to win at the end. Very exciting, great environment. We didn’t capitalize, but I’m very proud of the guys, how we fought.” — Dalvin Cook.
The Vikings are one game behind the Packers in the NFC North, and one game ahead of the Rams in the wild-card race. It’s a seemingly tenuous position, but leaves the Vikings with a reasonable amount of control down the stretch. Minnesota gets the 3-8-1 Lions at home before visiting the 4-8 Chargers, then hosts the 9-3 Packers and the 6-6 Bears. The division should be in play heading into that Week 16 showdown with the Packers, although Chicago remains a concern following the Vikings’ disastrous loss in Chicago back in Week 4.