NYGiants earn 1st playoff win in 11 yrs, defeating MN 31-24. Vikings season ends; playoffs continue.
After a magical 13-4 regular season, the Vikings' run comes to an end in the most Curtis Cousins way it could possibly have ended. I am going to start this recap off by saying this defense was one of the worst defenses we have ever seen in Minnesota. It was a combination of aging players that are costing too much, a Defensive Coordinator that would consistently blame the players throughout the year, and being the type of coach that took the approach of "do it my way" rather than building a gameplan to the strengths of the players he had. DC Ed Donatell was fired a couple days after the game, and rightfully so. The defense is going to need a complete overhaul as well as bringing in a young and hungry Defensive Coordinator that can change their identity. On the positive side, it really can't get much worse.
On to the offense. A check down to end the season? Really? I can't say I was surprised by this considering who the Vikings QB is, but come on. It seemed like Cousins had kind of turned a corner this year, only to revert back to his old self with the season on the line in the last 2 drives. Down 31-24 with 7:47 remaining, Cousins and the offense panicked and went 3&out (shocker) and were forced to punt with 6:23 remaining, after gaining negative 1 yard. Then, after the Giants WR dropped an easy first down and were forced to punt, the Vikings got the ball back with 2:56 with one last shot to tie or win the game. The Vikings were able to drive to about midfield, only for the final 2 plays to end the season. First, on 3rd & 8, WR KJ Osborn ran a route across the field with no defender in front of him and Cousins threw behind him, allowing the defender time to catch up and deflect the pass incomplete. There was no reason that ball should have been thrown behind KJ. Cousins had no pressure, was able to set his feet, and there were no defenders in front of KJ to potentially intercept it. Okay, whatever, next play. Now, at 4th & 8 and the game on the line, Cousins dropped back and had plenty of time to hit one of his receivers downfield. Theilen, Osborn, and Jefferson were all 15+ yards down field before a lineman got to Cousins, so don't try to tell me he had no time. Instead of throwing to Osborn (who was breaking open over the middle of the field), OR...IDK... maybe the best receiver in the NFL since Randy Moss (Justin Jefferson), Cousins panicked yet again and threw to TE TJ Hockenson running a 3 yard out after helping chip block at the start of play (TJ was not an actual option in this situation). Season over.
Let's look into Justin Jefferson. He must have been thrown to quite a bit in the second half of the game considering he is the best offensive player in the NFL and the season being on the line. Wrong. Kirkland Cousins is your typical Costco Hot Dog (credit to the writer at SB Nation). With the season on the line, Justin Jefferson was targeted 2 TIMES in the ENTIRE SECOND HALF resulting in 1 catch for 4 yards. I don't care if the man is quadruple covered... HE IS STILL OPEN. A winning QB throws the ball to Justin Jefferson. I said this the day the Vikings signed Cousins, and I will continue to stand by it...Cousins will never lead a team to a Conference Championship Game, let alone a Super Bowl. Say what you want if you don't agree, but when he retires, I will be correct. He is a QB that can make all of the passes, but can never make THE pass. He is going to be 35 years old next season and just got outplayed by DANNY "*******" DIME-ONDS (he came into Minnesota in a playoff game and ripped the chains off Kirko's neck). Whatever.
The future looks bright. I am very pleased with the direction HC Kevin O'Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah are taking this team. Next year will not be our year since it is likely Cousins will be back at QB and the defense needs to be completely gutted as well as finding a new successful Defensive Coordinator. But once O'Connell and Kwesi can find the rookie QB that they can develop, I think this staff and leadership will have a legitimate shot at competing for the title. This team does have some solid young pieces at its core that should be the building blocks to that near future goal! Let's go, baby! Get us 1 Super Bowl victory before we die! Is that too much to ask for? Skol!
Playoff Divisional Round Predictions:
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs will win this one fairly easily. Patrick Mahomes is a beast and Andy Reid has an incredible record when coming off of bye weeks.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts is still nursing an injury, but the Eagles are the much better team and will win. Don't be fooled by the Giants offensive performance last week, the Vikings have a historically bad defense.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills: This is the toughest game this weekend to pick and will likely be the best game. I really watching enjoy both teams, but this is the only road team I am picking to win. Bengals win after Josh Allen commits a late, costly turnover to end the Bills season.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Fransisco 49ers: This will be another close game. Ultimately, the 49ers defense will be too much for Dak Prescott to overcome. The 49ers talented offense will score enough points to win this game.