With Defense Thriving, Minnesota Vikings Offense Costs Them Week 4 Win

Minnesota Vikings Offense
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After two close yet disappointing games to being the 2021 NFL season resulting in the Minnesota Vikings starting the year off 0-2, the purple and gold bounced back in a big way in Week 3 with a win over the Seattle Seahawks to grab the first victory of the season. While riding high off that win to perhaps already save the season, Minnesota’s focus shifted to Week 4 to try and climb back to .500 and extend its winning streak to two in a row against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. With the game there for the taking up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Vikings ultimately fell in another close contest, dropping their first home game of the season following a 14-7 loss to the Browns. In the loss, the Minnesota Vikings offense surprisingly struggled despite having been strong for most of the year to this point, while one of its weaknesses saw a turnaround to give it a chance to claim victory throughout the game.

As Defense Shines, Minnesota Vikings Offense Struggles in Week 4 Loss

Going into the Week 4 showdown, many thought this would be a shootout of a game between two offenses that can put up points powered by balanced attacks on the ground and through the air. For the Vikings, they have had a solid offensive attack but would be faced with a tough task of trying to hold a Browns offense in check that features one of the top run games in the NFL. But in the loss, Minnesota’s defense showed up and held Cleveland to just 14 points, but its offense on the other side struggled.

Defense Held Browns in Check

Cleveland has an offense that is about middle of the NFL in passing statistics led by quarterback Baker Mayfield and company. But the running game is one of the best in the league, with the Browns sitting near the top in the NFL in rushing statistics.

Although the Brown rushing attack was able to tally 184 yards on the ground in the win, Minnesota did a nice job in containing the dynamic duo of Kareem Hunt and and Nick Chubb for most of the game, with Cleveland finding the end zone just once courtesy of a rushing touchdown by Hunt.

The Vikings did do a nice job in getting pressure on Mayfield in the game and forced him to make some tough plays that resulted in the quarterback managing to throw for just 155 yards while completing 15 of his 33 pass attempts. Minnesota was also able to sack Mayfield three times, which was a positive to see from a defense that was downright awful last season.

Offense Struggled Throughout the Game

One of the strengths of the Vikings over the last few seasons and once again in 2021 has been their offense headlined by quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. On an annual basis, Cook and the rushing attack has been at the top of the league in rushing statistics, while the passing game is normally capable of providing a nice balance to counter the run game in airing the ball out.

In the Week 4 loss to Cleveland, the Minnesota Vikings offense appeared to be rolling early on, with Cousins finding Jefferson for a first quarter touchdown to give the Vikings a 7-0 advantage at home. From that point, however, Minnesota’s offense disappeared and didn’t return en route to defeat.

Through the air, Cousins threw for 203 yards, although he completed just 20 of his 38 pass attempts while throwing one touchdown and one interception.

The ground game was an area where the Vikings struggled the most, which was uncharacteristic of that unit. With Cook dealing with injury issues throughout the game, Minnesota managed to rush for just 65 yards on 23 carries. The lack of a rushing attack was one of the biggest reasons Minnesota just couldn’t get anything going on offense.

Concluding Thoughts

It seems like in all three losses this season, the Vikings have found a new way to lose. In Week 1, it was mental mistakes and penalties that cost them the season opener. In Week 2, it was special teams that missed opportunities to seal a win on the road. Now in Week 4, now at 1-3 overall going into Week 5, Minnesota’s offense was the biggest reason for defeat with the game up for grabs up until the clock hit zero.

With the Detroit Lions on deck in Week 5, the Vikings should be able to bounce back and take that game against a divisional opponent. But Minnesota has some work to do within its locker room before that game to try and continue to turn around the season.

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