Wide Left is written by Vikings superfan Blair Anderson, who convinced Bring Me The News that it would be a good idea to give him a blog. He's always on an emotional rollercoaster, so here goes nothing...
The Minnesota Vikings took years off of my life on Sunday afternoon after deciding to spot the Denver Broncos 20 points in the first half. While a team that came into the game ranked 28th in total offense made a mockery of defensive guru Mike Zimmer's defense, the half was so bad that Kevin Harlan emphatically declared that Minneapolis was turning into a colder version of Chernobyl right before halftime.
While Harlan may have given Lizzo a new hook for her next diss track, his line spoke the truth. The Vikings took the field like a team that was thinking about their vacation in Cabo over their bye week, but with a magical second half, they were able to make the biggest NFL comeback in nearly five years in a 27-23 victory.
I'm writing this post nearly seven hours after this game concluded and there's so much to unpack for this game.
Do we talk about Zimmer's inability to get his team ready for this game? Do we talk about Zimmer's inability to develop a cornerback? Do we talk about Zimmer calling a timeout to turn one Denver last-ditch heave at the end zone into three? Should we fire Zimmer anyway? (OK, enough about Zimmer)
For all the bad things that happened in this game, there was one great thing that stood out more than anything else. When the Vikings got kicked in the balls to start the game, they didn't limp back into their cave. Instead, the Vikings landed the counterpunch that knocked the bully out.
This has been something that has been a criticism of the Mike Zimmer era. While the sixth-year head coach has seen plenty of success during his time in Minnesota, there has been a disturbing trend of a letdown game that has just sucked the wind out of the Vikings sails.
2016: The Vikings enter a must-win situation after fumbling away a 5-0 start. With the 6-7 Indianapolis Colts coming to town, this should be a game to help the Vikings get on track and save their playoff hopes. Instead, Adrian Peterson returns only to reveal he'd rather be somewhere else and the Vikings get edged by a score of 34-6.
2017: The Vikings give the state of Minnesota its most magical sports moment since Kirby Puckett blasted a home run to force Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. With Minnesota heading to Philadelphia to take on backup quarterback Nick Foles, the Vikings are expected to handle the Eagles on the way to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1976. Instead, LOL 38-7!!!
2018: After a grueling overtime tie against the Packers where Daniel Carlson missed three field goals, the Vikings returned home to face the Buffalo Bills, who lost the first two games by a combined score of 78-23. With a big matchup with the Los Angeles Rams looming, the Vikings are looking to establish momentum. Instead, Buffalo literally jumps out to a 27-0 lead on the way to a 27-6 victory.
The narrative changed Sunday
So as the Vikings went to the locker room, we had every reason to believe that the game was over. In fact, when asked about the best way to get back into the game Zimmer told Jay Feely that the Vikings needed to establish the run...down 20-0. Yikes.
Instead, the Vikings showed a sense of urgency rarely seen in these types of games under Zimmer. Kevin Stefanski started calling shots downfield. Kirk Cousins turned into "Stone Cold" Kirk Cousins, throwing touchdowns and immediately returning to the sideline for what I can only assume was a Grain Belt and a look at pictures of what the Broncos were doing on defense.
Even the tight ends got involved as Irv Smith Jr. caught his first NFL touchdown and Kyle Rudolph showed off his wheels on a 32-yard catch and run that gave the Vikings the improbable 27-23 lead.
Yes, the Vikings corners coughed up a monster game to Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, who was making his season debut. Yes, Zimmer called a timeout to turn one potential shot at the end zone for Denver into three. But even the Green Bay Packers, the one franchise that is the (fraudulent) gold standard in the NFL has games like this.
Heck, massive comebacks against losing teams at home are basically Aaron Rodgers' calling card. Why can't Cousins have a couple of those?
Not all is well as this is a team that probably won't win the Super Bowl, but at least we know that if they get punched in the mouth, they have the ability to fight their way back.