Moral victories don’t go very far in the NFL, and nor should they. Nevertheless, Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings showed resilience in their heartbreaking loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The chances of making the postseason are extremely low. If they’re going to make an unlikely run, the Vikings will need to regroup quickly by harnessing the resilience they demonstrated in Sunday night’s game.
The Resilience of Mike Zimmer and His Vikings
The First Half
After a strong defensive game plan in Week 4, Zimmer again put together a strong plan to contain Russell Wilson. The Vikings shut out the Seahawks in the opening half, largely due to their two-deep safeties who limited Seattle’s ability to target D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The success in coverage directly fed into Minnesota’s ability to generate a pass rush. At the half, the Vikings had sacked Wilson four times, an extraordinary number considering Wilson’s elusiveness and Minnesota’s less-than-stellar defensive line.
500+ lbs falling on Russell Wilson you hate to see it……. pic.twitter.com/8YMPjjstOK
— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) October 12, 2020
Indeed, the opening half was almost perfect for the Vikings. Apart from a missed touchdown pass to Adam Thielen at the end of the half, Minnesota put together a near-flawless opening thirty minutes. In the leadup to the game, we wrote about Justin Jefferson’s emergence. Part of his success meant that other players on the Vikings offense would now have room to operate, and that Gary Kubiak would be wise to integrate them. Our prediction was largely accurate. The Vikings got important contributions from Bisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, and especially Irv Smith Jr.
The Second Half
The second half, though, presented a more formidable opponent. The Seahawks, as the game broadcasters noted, seemed to regain the momentum when Dalvin Cook was forced to leave for an injury. In less than two minutes, the Seahawks scored three touchdowns; Cousins turned the ball over two times in that span.
This one was inexcusable. https://t.co/TLmjcV2fxg
— Last Word On Vikings (@LWOS_Vikings) October 12, 2020
So far this season, the Vikings have shown remarkably little resilience. The three consecutive touchdowns would have sunk the Vikings in the season’s opening three weeks. On Sunday, though, the Vikings showed some fight. In fact, the Vikings responded by taking a 26-21 lead late into the fourth quarter. Converting on 4th & 1 with around two minutes left would have sealed the unlikely win. They deserved to win this one.
Zimmer said he didn’t see the replay, but added, “Good backs, you don’t question them too much. You just let them do what they do, and he’s a good back.” https://t.co/oxFca8GLUx
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingStrib) October 12, 2020
Zimmer explained his reasoning for the 4th & 1 call in his postgame press conference: “I told them on the headset, ‘We didn’t come here for this — let’s go win it.” Fans shouldn’t have any problem with Zimmer’s reasoning. As the above photo demonstrates, the Vikings actually had an easy path to the win; Alexander Mattison (who played incredibly well) simply missed the open lane. As soon as Wilson got the ball back, Minnesota fans should have known what was coming.
Reasons for Optimism With Mike Zimmer and the Vikings
Dropping to 1-4 is very disappointing, so it’s difficult to be optimistic. Fans can perhaps take some solace, though, in the fact that the Vikings showed considerable improvement on both sides of the ball.
The offense did a nice job of incorporating their various playmakers. They have depth in the backfield, meaning that they’ll be able to execute their ball-control offense even if Cook misses time. The defense took another step forward. The d-line had some nice moments, and Eric Wilson made impact plays.
Perhaps most importantly, Mike Zimmer and his Minnesota Vikings demonstrated resilience last night. The Seahawks are a great team. There’s a legitimate case to be made for Seattle being the best team in the NFL. For the most part, the Vikings navigated Seattle’s comeback with aplomb. A slightly different path for Mattison on that 4th & 1 and we’re having a very different conversation.
The Vikings were the better team last night. Unfortunately, the better team doesn’t always win the game. If they want to turn their season around, the Vikings need a decisive win on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Heading into their Week 7 bye at 2-4 is no one’s idea of success. This is where the Vikings are, though. There’s no path forward other than the one that involves putting together several consecutive wins. We’ll know on Sunday whether the Vikings have the resilience to pursue this path.
Embed from Getty Images