Upon Further Review: Vikings show improvement with well-timed response to adversity North News

When adversity knocked, the Vikings answered.

Minnesota advanced 2-0 in the NFC North and 2-1 on Sunday of the 2022 young season and defeated the Detroit Lions 28-24 in a sort of come-from-behind — a game a year ago that the Vikings might have would have missed.

It wasn’t very early. Actually it was pretty ugly.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff started 6-for-7 for 91 yards, including four 15-yard completions and one touchdown — reminiscent of Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who started 11-for-11 last Monday night.

On the Minnesota side, Kirk Cousins ​​completed three of his first eight throws for 29 yards — with 12-yard passes to reserve tight end Ben Ellefson and fullback CJ Ham. Detroit led 14-0 before a deep finish for Irv Smith Jr. and a defensive pass interference call on ex-Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes positioned Cousins ​​to take Adam Thielen out for the receiver’s 50th career touchdown catch a yard to find out.

The score stopped the bleeding. At the moment.

Cook rebounded an inside handover and slammed an overloaded Lions defense to the front left pylon to level the game in the final two minutes of the first half, snapping his five-game streak without a TD.

But instead of shaking in the third quarter, the Lions — unlike the Lions of the past — roared to another double-digit lead through a 40-yard field goal and a 13-yard touchdown run from Jamaal Williams.

No one would argue that Detroit won the first 45 minutes at US Bank Stadium. Likewise, no one could dispute Minnesota’s comeback, or its defense that buckled and the offense that dropped its oars in the water.

The Lions’ last five possessions went like this: punt, punt, turnover on downs, missed field goal attempt, and game-ending interception. The Vikings’ defense gave up 90 yards in 27 games in the fourth quarter.

Talk about a turnaround — which drastically affected Minnesota’s offense.

The Vikings eventually capitalized on two quick hits, the first of which started about 10 minutes from time, to leap ahead of Detroit. The winning touchdown to a wide open KJ Osborn with 45 ticks remaining, Minnesota gave up their first and only lead, covering up what was at times an overall erratic performance from the Vikings.

It’s exactly the kind of win Minnesota eluded in 2021 – last season the Vikings lost eight of 14 competitions decided by eight points or fewer.

Here’s a recap of Sunday’s game:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

We could very easily have rolled with Osborn, whose 28-yard clincher led a five-catch, 73-yard afternoon run, or with fellow touchdown scorer Thielen and the Vet’s six grabs for 61 yards, both season-highs. But the Vikings’ defense played a crucial role on Sunday and their unlikely star deserves our love. Safety Josh Metellus, a 2020 sixth-round draft pick from Michigan, played against Lewis Cine in place of Harrison Smith — the longtime starter suffered a concussion in Week 2 and was inactive against the Lions. It’s easy to cite Metellus’ three seasons of NFL experience and availability during the preseason — Cine, ranked No. 32 overall last April, missed some time with a bruised knee — as reasons for his start. But that doesn’t do Metellus any favours. His performance on Sunday showed that Metellus can play more than special teams. The former Wolverine made 11 stops (10 solo), which put Eric Kendricks in second place on defense behind Jordan Hicks. Metellus also defended two passes while playing 100% D-snaps and sealed the comeback with his first career interception – just a snap after dropping a wannabe pick – at a prayer from Jared Goff. Detroit’s last ditch drive was one hell of a snapshot of Metellus’ early career: He’s been involved in three of the last five Lions games, picking up a tackle and negating deep throws to the middle and left thirds of the field. Pretty impressive for a primary special teamer playing a pivotal role in tight competition.

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DON’T FORGET ME

We have to mention this season’s new signing Jonathan Bullard, a 28-year-old defensive tackle who signed with the club in June. Bullard, who entered the NFL in the third round (No. 72 overall) of the 2016 draft, is well on our radar after three games. On Sunday, Bullard made four tackles, including one for a loss. He played 44% percent of Minnesota’s defensive snaps, his third straight game receiving at least 40%. Bullard isn’t a pass-rush genius — he registered 1.5 sacks and 13 pressures in 40 games from 2018-21 — but is attracting attention against the run and helped slow a Detroit rushing attack that averaged on Sunday 186 yards per game and 7.2 yards per attempt. FYI, The Lions rushed for 139 yards with 35 carries (3.97 Y/A) against Bullard and company. Another FYI despite facing three juggernaut rushing offenses in the first three weeks – Green Bay, Philadelphia and Detroit all have three Top 6 ground games this year – Vikings’ defense has held opponents in the stadium from 110 to 160 yards. Could be a lot worse… and better. D’oh!

THIS MOMENT

People are already calling it”Assfumbling 2.0.” It’s hard to sugarcoat a piece by that name. As the third quarter drew to a close Sunday, Cook Cousins ​​picked up an off-tackle handoff and headed for a hole on the left side of the line. The Pro Bowl running back must have blinked because he ran right into the back of left guard Ezra Cleveland, who was in the process of clearing Lions rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez out of Cook’s putative path. The result was a loose ball and a turnover from the Vikings. Not to mention a shoulder injury that sidelined Cook for the rest of the game. A double failure. But hey, it didn’t result in points for Detroit like Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s slip-up in 2012 led straight to a Patriots touchdown.

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THIS NUMBER

Yay for milestones! Thielen and Cook both climbed the Vikings’ record books on Sunday. Thielen grabbed the No. 50 touchdown reception, tied with Sammy White for the fourth most in franchise history. Thielen reached the half-century mark in 121 career games, seven fewer than White, who played his entire NFL career for the Vikes from 1976-1985. It goes without saying that Thielen scored a goal from the mid-20s… he was in the red monster the last few seasons. Meanwhile, Cook became the fifth member of Minnesota’s 5,000-yard rushing club, alongside Adrian Peterson, Robert Smith, Chuck Foreman and Bill Brown. Cook can realistically overtake Foreman and Brown in 2022 — he needs 865 yards over 14 games (61.8 yards per game) to claim third spot on the Vikings all-time rushing list alone. Cook’s average of 85.1 yards per game since his debut in 2017 is second only to Peterson, who averaged 95.5 yards in a Vikings jersey from 2007-16. Cook is also a T-3 in team history with 40 rushing TDs.

YOU SAID IT

“We want to keep building that momentum by playing downhill, fast, physical and you see

Once we lean on the big guys up front, they can get the job done. Overall, it was just one of those days

where we have established our identity and we must continue to do so.” – RB Alexander Mattison on what it was like making the running game work

“I knew they were going to try to send someone behind me so I just ran back and lo and behold [the] ball [was] in the air and I had to make a play and I did. So, thank God I got another opportunity [up for] that drop.” – Safety Josh Metellus on his game-winning INT

“It means that I have built trust with the guys. I’ve been here for three years now, so it’s good to know that I’m leaving my mark on them. You know we’re a connected group and we lean on each other. I tell the boys every day to lean on their brothers. Today they leaned on me and I showed up for it.” — Metellus on hearing his teammates tell reporters, “That’s exactly what we expected from Josh.”

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“Josh is a leader on our team. He is very vocal and knows what he is doing. He’s very confident about what

is [especially] crucial in this league. We flock around each other and help each other when necessary. We also make adjustments to the sidelines. Things weren’t perfect, but we were [tried].” – LB Eric Kendricks on his level of trust in Metellus

“It’s great to be able to make these plays on the track. It’s fun to see someone like KJ [Osborn] do the game too. It’s fun to see the linemen grind and see them celebrate and know we got our job done there. It’s just a pleasure. Kevin said in the dressing room it’s an addictive feeling when you win like that. You want to chase it, so we’ll keep doing that.” — QB Kirk Cousins ​​on feeling throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass for the clutch late in the fourth quarter

“The first guy to celebrate with KJ Osborn when he scores that touchdown is Justin Jefferson. He’s a great teammate. Even though he doesn’t have a “C” on his chest, I know our boys see him as one of our leaders. We relied on him today to stay and just keep going. And I have a lot of respect for how Justin handled today, but I’m obviously taking it upon myself to do a better job of making it work. – Kevin O’Connell on Jefferson’s impact instead of flashy numbers

WHAT’S NEXT

Tea and crumpets and an 8:30 a.m. kick-off in London against the New Orleans Saints (1-2). The Vikings know how to win abroad – they’ve already done it twice in London, beating Pittsburgh in 2013 and Cleveland in 2017 – as does New Orleans, who beat then-San Diego Chargers at Wembley in 2008 and returned to be eliminated Miami in 2017. This year’s Tilt week four takes place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, home of the Premier League club of the same name. The Saints lost to the Panthers 22:14. Jameis Winston has a TD:INT ratio of 4:5. Set your alarm and mix yourself a bloody one!