The Minnesota Vikings had aspired to run in the NFC playoffs. However, their dreams were cut short on Sunday with a 31 -24 loss against the New York Giants at the U.S Bank Stadium. During the franchise’s first division title, the team won 13 games, eleven by one score, while Cousins led an NFL record in the eight fourth-quarter comebacks.
This begs the question: was 2022 a success for the Vikings? Their goal was to take home the Super Bowl, but they would be watching the rest of the playoffs from the comfort of their homes.
The team had previously faced questions after three blowout losses. This season ended abruptly, and only 22 days after beating the same team, New York Giants, 27 -24 with the longest made field goal in the franchise history. The Vikings thought they could make a playoff run; they, however, had to settle for the home playoff game.
— New York Giants (@Giants) January 16, 2023
Takeaways from Sunday’s Loss
The game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings has been under much scrutiny these last two days. With a 4th and 8 season on the line, Cousins threw a three-yard check down to T.J Hockenson, who was tackled for a turnover giving the Giants a vestry formation.
On the other hand, Justin Jefferson was covering doubles, Adam Theilen ran a deep out, and K.J Osborn was late in breaking open the middle, all while Cousins was evading the pressure in hopes of getting the ball out and Hockenson would make the defender miss. The better option would have been a shot to Jefferson, despite being strategically misplaced.
Sunday’s loss can be attributed to the defense, which was filled with veterans. It was slower than intended during several plays and refused to make necessary adjustments when the Giants were all over the field with no resistance. Daniel Jones emerged as the first quarterback to achieve 300 plus yards, two touchdowns and run for 70 plus yards.
This final game marked the tenth time the Vikings gave up at least 400 yards during the season while the Giants ran nearly five yards per carry. O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah are tasked with figuring out why the 3-4 defenses did not work, all while putting Ed Donatell’s future with the Vikings up in the air.
“I just know our team wanted very, very badly; we had a great week of prep and wanted very badly to win this game. For it to be a one-score game and a chance to tie it up, it’s going to sting us for a long time,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said after the loss. “This team is as competitive as any group that I’ve been around; each and every time, they took the field with the expectation to win. These guys battled for 13 wins.”
Football may be a team sport, but Sunday’s loss falls squarely on the Vikings; defense prompting O’Connell to search for a new co-coordinator in the next season. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s confidence before the match on Thursday was thoroughly disproved. He had claimed that the defense would wow the fans.
“It’s a little fresh to be in that mode right now. I think Ed tried to do the best he could this year across the board installing the defense, the team we manifested together and hoped it would come to life,” O’Connell said. “He worked his absolute tail off. I’m going to look at every aspect of how we can improve. Those things are for a different time.”
#Vikings home playoff games are just different.
📺: https://t.co/l6hd96ZX7d pic.twitter.com/j6S6DHpqTv
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 15, 2023
So what’s in the future for the Minnesota Vikings?
Yet another year marked by a rollercoaster ride for the Vikings fan base. Many fans have voiced their disappointment after Sunday’s game, while others have been proven.
Fans have claimed that the team could have been better than the previous record suggested. Marked by inconsistency, sporadic momentum, and pitfalls, it should not be surprising that the team didn’t have a postseason.
The Vikings can be described as frustrating, and they are at the stage of their franchise development where they are good but not good enough. This development has been ongoing from 2001 to 2007. 2008 and 2009 were successful but disappointing seasons characterized by a solid defense and good rub game.
However, the team regressed in the next five years, finishing the NFC season last place in three out of five seasons.
Since then, the Minnesota Vikings have fallen into a predictable pattern; they win more than ten games, make the playoffs, lose with a point or two, or draw. Only in 2020 and 2021 could the team not make it to the postseason.
Kevin O’Connell’s introduction to the team offers new hope to the fans as he has completely changed the locker room following the toxic years of Mike Zimmer.
Thank you for all of your support this season.#Skol pic.twitter.com/rHbeXVCoAG
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 18, 2023
Credits: All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons