EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings faced one of the NFL’s best offenses Sunday night without several starters on defense.
But it was the Saints’ defense that turned the game on its head with two key turnovers. As WCCO’s David McCoy tells us, it showed once again just how razor-thin the margin for error is in this league, and prompted a bit of a surprise response from coach Mike Zimmer.
Two costly turnovers, two huge point swings. Instead of scoring to take perhaps a 10-point lead into the half, a fumble that the Saints turned into a touchdown of their own.
Then, a miscommunication on a route, which became a pick-six. The kind of mistakes it’s tough to overcome no matter what else you do.
“Offensively we moved up and down the field on them. Defensively we did a nice job taking a lot of things away that they were trying to do. Unfortunately had a couple turnovers, and basically cost us the football game,” Zimmer said.
Letting a win slip away because of two costly mistakes seems like just the kind of thing that would send a grizzled coach like Zimmer into a frenzy. In fact, quite the opposite.
“I’m encouraged after this ballgame. I’m encouraged after the last four weeks. If I was ticked off, I’d let ’em know, trust me,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer pointed to fewer defensive breakdowns over the past several weeks, more rushing yardage.
“I thought the offensive line did a nice job in some of those things,” Zimmer said.
The Vikings had 150 more yards, 10 more first downs and held Drew Brees to his lowest yardage total of any game he’s finished in his career. If that sounds like silver linings in a loss, that’s not what Zimmer sees.
“I feel like we’re starting to become a pretty good football team.” Zimmer said.
The Vikings are hopeful to get a number of starters back for Sunday’s noon home game with Detroit. In particular, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, linebacker Anthony Barr and offensive lineman Riley Reiff. The Vikings have their bye week after Sunday’s game.