There were varying expectations for the 2022-23 edition of the Minnesota Vikings. Some had them pegged for the playoffs while others had them on the outside looking in for the third year in a row.
After eight years under the guidance of Mike Zimmer, the team would see several changes in the offseason, including a new GM in Kwesi AdofoMensah, a new coach in Kevin O’Connell, and a new defensive coordinator in Ed Donatell.
Last year the Vikings finished with an 8-9 record, which featured many close games seemingly decided by one possession. With a new regime, there was optimism that change would bring a positive result to a team that was capable of so much more than they had given in previous seasons.
While the team would qualify for the playoffs with a 13-4 record and a first-place finish in the NFC North and third-place overall in the NFC, the team would fall 31-24 to the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card game.
Clearly, the Vikings and their fans hoped for a lengthy post-season run after a successful regular season, but while the playoffs were short-lived, there were certainly a number of highlight moments in 2022-23 that have fans of the purple, gold, and white looking forward to next season.
November 13, 2022
On Sunday afternoon in front of a ruckus Bills crowd at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, the Minnesota Vikings found themselves down 24-10 at halftime. Little did fans of either team know, they would be in for a wild ride for the remainder of the game. Featuring two of the best teams in the NFL at that point in the season, the Vikings were able to overcome a seventeen-point second-half deficit with a 20-6 second-half run, sending the game into overtime.
With an 81-yard scamper by Dalvin Cook to end the third quarter and a mind-blowing single-handed snag by Justin Jefferson, the Vikings All-Pro wide receiver highlighted a second-half Minnesota comeback.
Add in a trio of turnovers by Bills’ QB Josh Allen in the fourth quarter and overtime, which included the game-ending interception by Patrick Peterson with just over a minute left in the extra period to seal the 33-30 victory.
Just a month after the Vikings made one of the most impressive comebacks, they would outdo themselves as they recorded the largest comeback in NFL history to defeat the Indianapolis Colts.
On December 17, 2022, the Vikings found themselves trailing 33-0 at halftime, meaning chances for a Minnesota victory were somewhere between “slim and none” as they say. Clearly “slim” meant that there was still an option.
Outsourcing the Colts 39-3 in the second half plus overtime, the Vikings not only entered themselves into the record book, but they also locked down a playoff berth and the NFC North division title, they are first since 2017.
Following three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Za’Darius Smith signed a 3-year / $42 million deal with one of their biggest rivals. Now with a new club, Smith proved that his injury was a thing of the past as he returned to Pro Bowl form, earning the NFC Defensive Player of the Month and Defensive Player of the Week (week 8) in October.
While the Vikings were in a push for the post-season, the Detroit Lions, who moved Hockenson, a 2023 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick for a 2023 second-round pick, and a 2024 third-round pick, appear a bit more in the rebuilding stage. Ultimately this deal seemed to be a win-win as the Vikings acquired a Pro Bowl-level tight end in the middle of the season who finished with the most receiving yards and tied for the most touchdowns of his four-year career.
If you were watching the Vikings and Bills game on November 13th, you were already witnessing something special and the cherry on top would be provided by Justin Jefferson.
Of the ten catches Jefferson hauled in, this one would be worthy of heavy rotation on SportsCenter as it would be the longest fourth down conversion by any team at that point in the season and the longest by the Vikings in nearly twenty years.
Kicking It Around
They often get ridiculed by fans for having just one job, kicking the ball. However, NFL fans know it is not that simple. When Greg Joseph took the field in front of 66,000 fans at the end of the Vikings game against the New York Giants, he would launch the pigskin between the uprights from a team and personal record 61 yards away.
On a team that has a number of high-profile players, Joseph managed to steal the spotlight in back-to-back weeks with game-clinching field goals.
Week four of the NFL schedule saw the Vikings and New Orleans Saints travel across the Atlantic Ocean to play in London, England. While not in prime field goal range, Saint’s field goal kicker Will Lutz attempted to split the uprights from 61 yards away.
With two seconds left on the clock and his team trailing 28-25, Lutz’s kick had plenty of distance, but ended up bouncing off of the left upright and then off of the crossbar before falling forward to the ground.
Winning London 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/9nbD9dnJVx
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 2, 2022
Packers Fail To Make The Playoffs
For the first time since the 2018 season, the Packers will miss the playoffs pic.twitter.com/wH3Yj45HRj
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 9, 2023
Credits Featured Image: Flickr/Commercial License Allowed