Nobody is happy leaving a game with a tie. It feels like a loss, because it’s not a win.
But what Vikings players and fans have to remember after all the twists and turns of Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field is that you didn’t lose. If the Vikings take care of business the rest of the season, the Week 2 result will have little to no effect on what transpires the rest of the way.
That said, the Vikings fought back from a 20-7 deficit and had multiple chances to get a road win early in the season. Kirk Cousins had a huge day despite a slow start, we still don’t know exactly where a quarterback can be hit and the Packers did the Vikings a favor with some questionable play-calling late in the game.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s tie. And no, it’s not any more enjoyable to think about two days after the fact.
NFL = Not For Long
The Vikings traded two draft picks to take kicker Daniel Carlson in the fifth round of the most recent NFL Draft. Carlson found out in the worst way possible that the NFL is a cut-throat business, and not doing your job leads to losing your job.
Carlson missed three field goals, two in overtime, in Sunday’s tie. The last miss came from 35 yards out in the middle of the field as time expired, costing the Vikings a victory. A victory that could’ve played a big factor in the playoff race depending how the rest of the season transpires.
For as hard as the team worked to give itself a chance to win Sunday, you can’t afford to have a shaky kicker who’s lacking confidence. The Vikings released Carlson on Monday, and are signing Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. We can feel confident now that when a game is on the line and a kicker steps on the field, it’s going through the uprights.
Huge Game For Kirk Cousins
If we didn’t know before, we discovered Sunday why the Vikings paid Kirk Cousins $84 million guaranteed. The start was a little slow, but Cousins exploded for 425 passing yards and four touchdowns on Sunday. His only interception of the day wasn’t his fault, bouncing off the hands of Laquon Treadwell.
Cousins threw touchdowns to Stefon Diggs twice, Adam Thielen and, ironically, Treadwell. Two of his biggest throws of the game were a 22-yard touchdown to Thielen, threading the needle between two defenders, to get the Vikings within two late in the fourth quarter. His next pass, a perfect fade throw to Diggs for a two-point conversion, sent the game to overtime.
And let’s not forget the 75-yard bomb that Cousins threw to Diggs, in stride, to get the Vikings within 23-20. Cousins made every throw against a Packers’ secondary that’s young and susceptible to big plays.
Roughing The Passer Controversy
Two roughing the passer penalties, one on each team and both were bad calls. Eric Kendricks was flagged for hitting Aaron Rodgers. The 15 yards hurt, but it keeping the drive alive was worse. Arguably the worse call was Clay Matthews’ hit on Kirk Cousins. It was the textbook definition of how to make a tackle in football. It wasn’t late, there was no contact to the helmet and yet Matthews got flagged for roughing the passer.
To make matters worse, it wiped away a turnover as Cousins was picked off on the throw. It would’ve ended the game. Yet the drive continued, and Cousins found Thielen for a touchdown, and Diggs for the tying two-point conversion. The irony of the penalty is that it was instituted to protect the quarterback, including and most especially Matthews’ own teammate.
The NFL better figure out what roughing the passer actually is before it’s too late. Some might argue that’s long gone, and the game is coming hard to watch.
What Were The Packers Thinking?
The Packers had the ball late in the fourth quarter, in Vikings territory and could run out the clock if they so chose. Inexplicably and for whatever reason, Rodgers had two straight passing plays, going for a touchdown. Sure, a score would’ve sealed the victory. But they fell incomplete, and to make matters worse, the plays left time on the clock without the Vikings having to burn any timeouts. They got a field goal instead.
We get the Packers want to deliver the knockout punch, but at what point does proper game management take over. Mike McCarthy took a gamble, and it nearly cost him a victory.
The two teams meet again on Nov. 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium, and it will be very interesting to where each sits after what transpired on Sunday.