It’s getting a little too real for Vikings fans, and it’s scary.
It’s like when you’re in high school, and the girl you have a massive crush on actually likes you too. You freeze because you don’t know what to do.
Vikings fans have been through it before. They’ve invested in a team, only to have their hearts broken. We’re there again. The Vikings are 5-0, the only unbeaten team in the NFL, after crushing the Houston Texans 31-13 on Sunday. There are 11 games to go, but players and fans are buying into what coach Mike Zimmer is selling.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s win.
Defense, Defense and more Defense
Just when we thought the Vikings couldn’t get much better defensively, they dominated Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans. In five wins, they’ve beaten Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Eli Manning and now Osweiler. Their 19 sacks is tied for the NFL lead. They’re tied for the NFL lead with 12 forced turnovers, and they lead the NFL with an average of 12.6 points allowed per game.
Sunday, they intercepted Osweiler once, sacked him three times and disrupted him all day. Their top receivers, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, were non-factors until the game was in hand. It’s that kind of defense that can win championships.
Thielen, Patterson Step Up For Diggs
Stefon Diggs was one of the NFL’s top receivers through four games. He didn’t practice all week and didn’t play Sunday due to a groin injury. No Diggs, no problem. Adam Thielen and Cordarelle Patterson made plays in his absence. Thielen had seven catches for 127 yards and a first-quarter touchdown that got the Vikings rolling early. Patterson had four catches for 39 yards and a fourth quarter score that put the game away. Patterson got whatever message was sent his way in the offseason. He caught just two passes all of last year. He now has 11 this season.
Not to be overlooked is Jarius Wright, who played his first game of the season after being a healthy scratch. He had four catches in Sunday’s win.
Sam Bradford Continues To Shine
Rick Spielman had to do something when Teddy Bridgewater went down. He took a gamble by sending a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 pick to Philadelphia for Sam Bradford. It’s been worth every penny. Bradford was 22-of-30 for 271 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. He’s improving every week as he gets more comfortable in the offense.
If he keeps it up, the legitimate question will have to be addressed at some point: What happens if and when Bridgewater recovers? For now fans should be happy with the fact that despite all the injuries, the Vikings are improving on offense every week. Bradford is poised for a huge season, if the offensive line can keep him upright.
Vikings Won’t Let Injuries Stop Them
Offensive lineman Andre Smith is the latest injury blow to the Vikings. He had surgery Tuesday for a triceps injury and was placed on injured reserve. There have been plenty of injuries this year, but the Vikings don’t care. Phil Loadholt retired before the season. Matt Kalil is out for the season, as are Adrian Peterson and Bridgewater. Brandon Fusco went out against the Texans with a concussion.
As long as the defense stays healthy, it may not matter how bruised the Vikings are on offense. Unless, of course, Bradford goes down. Mike Zimmer won’t let injuries be an issue, and it’s translated to his team. Different players haves stepped up in different situations, and that’s the mark of a team that can make a run.
Most teams would crumble in these situations. Not the Vikings. That attitude could go a long way in reversing the fatalist approach that most of the fan base takes toward the team. After all, it’s scary to fall in love with a team and have your heart broken. The Vikings are doing their best to win games and give a reason for fans to go “all-in.”