The Vikings started fast, built an early lead, fell asleep during the third quarter and then hung on late to preserve a one-score victory (27-22) over the visiting New York Jets. Rinse and repeat. It seems to be a reoccurring refrain—but it is a pleasing refrain as the Vikings keep winning and are now 10-2 and one win away from clinching the NFC North title and punching their ticket to the playoffs. At least that playoff thing is something new.
The script was familiar: Kirk Cousins had an up-and-down game—missing some open receivers, and then dropping some dimes at the most crucial moments. The offensive line opened precious few holes for Dalvin Cook and didn’t always protect their quarterback, as Cousins got rocked both as a passer and a runner. Justin Jefferson made some incredible catches—with hands that resembled Spiderman with their stickiness—and kept the sticks moving and the offense ahead of the Jets who hung around until late in the game. And the defense bent, but didn’t break—forcing five field goals—until they finally ended the game with a Cam Bynum pick. Stop me if you’ve heard that all before.
It was solid early and exciting late and it appears there are two ways to look at how the Vikings now have won nine of their 10 victories. You could either say they know how to win close ballgames and are good enough to get the job done in dramatic fashion each week or you could say they are lucky to have the second-best record in the NFL and are not ready to make a deep dive into the post-season. Or you could say it’s a little of both—and Joe Oberle (from vikingsterritory and purplePSTD) and Mark Craig (from the Star Tribune and startribune.com) will take up that discussion on the Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast.
Whatever you want to say about this team, you cannot deny their position in the NFC—a very good position for a couple home playoff games—and now winners of 4 of 5 during the toughest stretch of the schedule this season. After three games at home, the Vikings will go on the road to Detroit to take on the suddenly charging Lions who are still trying to grab a Wild Card playoff spot. It should be another close one—rinse and repeat.