It’s hard to say one win can save a season, but Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings victory at Philadelphia certainly had that feel.
The Vikings would fall to 1-3-1 after five weeks with a loss Sunday. With the way things are going in the NFC, they couldn’t afford any more slip-ups. Instead, Kirk Cousins showed why he’s worth $84 million, the Vikings got a defensive touchdown and Dan Bailey redeemed himself in a huge spot for a 23-21 victory.
Was it payback for the NFC title game? Absolutely not. It didn’t end the Eagles’ season, but it sure felt good to get back to playing solid football and getting a road win. The Vikings are 2-2-1, and their next three games are hosting Arizona, at the New York Jets and hosting the New Orleans Saints.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s win.
Linval Joseph’s Defensive Touchdown
The Vikings defense pressured Carson Wentz most of the afternoon, enough that it created their second defensive touchdown of the season. Stephen Weatherly got one of the two sacks on Wentz, who fumbled, and Linval Joseph scooped it up and ran it 64 yards for a touchdown. It gave the Vikings a 10-3 lead at the time.
Most importantly, it gave the Vikings a boost after the offense had been able to move the ball, but not score. Wentz threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns, but faced pressure most of the day. It was refreshing to see the Vikings make plays after they got gashed by the Buffalo Bills not that long ago.
Kirk Cousins Continues To Impress
Kirk Cousins continues to get better with every week and show why the Vikings committed $84 million guaranteed to him in free agency. Cousins finished 30-of-37 passing for 301 yards and one touchdown. His accuracy was the most impressive, regularly hitting receivers in stride and especially in the face of pressure. His longest completion went to Adam Thielen for 68 yards, a long throw that hit him perfectly down the sideline as Cousins was getting hit.
Cousins has the arm strength and the receiving corps to put up big numbers, if he gets protection. But he’s fearless. There isn’t a throw he’s not willing to try, even if it’s in traffic. Dalvin Cook’s healthy return could make Cousins and the offense even more dangerous.
Another Big Day For Adam Thielen
Adam Thielen has done nothing but perform while being largely overlooked in his NFL career. No, he wasn’t drafted. Yes, he’s had to work for every chance he’s gotten. And he’ll be the first to tell you he’s grateful for that. It can’t be denied that he’s one of the top receivers in the NFL right now, the numbers don’t lie. He runs precise, crisp routes and virtually never drops the ball when it’s thrown his way.
Thielen finished Sunday with seven catches for 116 yards on 10 targets. He made NFL history Sunday, becoming the first wide receiver ever to start a season with five straight 100-yard receiving games. Thielen and Stefon Diggs have quickly emerged as one of the best receiving duos in the NFL.
Dan Bailey Bounces Back From 2 Misses
Vikings fans must feel they are cursed when it comes to kickers. It goes all the way back to Gary Anderson in the 1999 NFC title game. Then it was Blair Walsh in the playoffs. Then Kai Forbath mostly did his job last season, then got released for Daniel Carlson. Carlson was a mess in the Week 2 tie at Green Bay, missing three kicks. The last would’ve sealed the win, and he was cut the next day.
Enter free agent Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. He missed two kicks of his own Sunday, but got his named called late in the fourth quarter with the Vikings up 20-14. He drilled a field goal from 52 yards out to give the Vikings a two-score lead. Most Vikings fans probably watched it with one eye closed, but it was center cut. Despite the two misses, he was there when they needed him at the most crucial time.
Vikings fans have been through every emotion in the book, and we’re only five games in. Welcome to the NFL.