Well, that’s all she wrote. A heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the scrappy New York Giants ends the Vikings season. Losing in the playoffs is never easy, but losing as home is the big kicker here. After all the 1-score games and the comebacks, the fun comes to a halt.Everyone was going through the motions postgame, venting and pointing fingers. And that was the story of the season. Even when we escaped defeat narrowly, there was always something big to fix. Now the season is over, and there’s a lot of shit that’s broken.
Coming into Super Wild Card Weekend, I didn’t feel hopeful about the Vikings chances. I was concerned by the lack of faith, not just within the national media but amongst Viking fans as well. Who cares what the media thinks, they will hate on the Vikings no matter what. But the fact that 3 weeks prior it had to take a franchise-record FG to knock off the Giants was…concerning. The Giants had the one thing going for them that we can’t seem to stop: playing with house money. The Giants were just happy to be here after going through hell as a franchise for the past 5 years. Not that we had something grand to play for, but it always seems like the Vikings have to have a motive to win games.Being in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium for a playoff game was amazing. I skipped out on the Minneapolis Miracle game, something i’ll never forgive myself for. So this time around, I had to be in the building. Never mind the fact the ticket prices were bonkers. Getting into the stadium early, the vibes were high and you could feel the energy. All that energy disappeared when the Giants marched right down the field to tie the game at 7 all.
Okay but, who’s fault was it this time?
D-E-F-E-N-S-E. Yeah, that same unit that ranks bottom of the league in every stat category. They were the problem. All season long, the main suspect of Vikings fans’ griping was DC Ed Donatell. His scheme of having corners play back and letting everything come up definitely didn’t work like he thought it would. But guys, it goes deeper than that. The Vikings haven’t drafted a legit defensive player since Danielle Hunter in 2015. You have to be some kind of unlucky to have that happen. But I guess that’s what happened when you trade out of picks all the time. Fuck your value, we need players now. The players you always knew you could trust are getting older. Everyone on this defense could be looked at as a liability. Not good for a team that just won the division. Now, tough conversations will be had about the likes of Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks and others. Maybe it was the scheme that threw them off. And maybe it is an age thing. Either way, something has to change. Quickly.
No Offense, But…Offensively, everyone seems to give them a free pass in this game. But I don’t think they should. We all knew the Vikings identity to winning was being stellar on offense. On Sunday, the same antics were at work like they had been all season. Walk down the field on the opening drive to score, and then proceed to do nothing. JJ was involved early, and then he wasn’t. The play-calling didn’t help. Running a goofy trick play on 3rd and 1 early in the game was the killer. KOC definitely took his lumps this year as a first-time play caller, so we’ll let that one slide. Hopefully Kevin plays some Madden 23 this season to work out the kinks.
Kirk Cousins was good, until he wasn’t. Yes, throwing is short on 4th & 8 with the season on the line was horrendous. But a hungry Giants D-line and a depleted Vikes O-line only muddied the picture. It helps when you can run the ball! The Vikings haven’t done that all season. Set aside the few Dalvin “He’s Loose!” moments in Miami and Buffalo, the run game this year was fucking dogshit. The offensive line was better this year, but not so much in the run. Dalvin is getting up there in age as well. You have to wonder if Sunday was the last we’ve seen of him in purple.
Where do we go now?
Now, the burning questions comes into play. Are the Vikings frauds? We’ve heard it since Halloween, but it’s something to really ponder. I’ll say this: based on our 13-4 record, we were suspect. A team with a record that good should have a better postseason outlook and not a negative point differential. The close games and blowout L’s caught up to us. They way I look at the 1-score games, it was positive regression to the max from last season. 2021 the Vikings lost almost every close game. And this year we won them all, except for Sunday. And that hurts. But to say this team wasn’t good enough is crazy. Give the NY Giants credit, the played their asses off Sunday. Their execution was solid, you can’t point to anything they didn’t do well. They were the better team, and now the Vikings have to look in the mirror and make adjustments. The division next year will be interesting. With the surging Lions and the Bears, who have a war chest of draft picks and cap space to burn and improve. Kwesi and KOC did a lot in year 1 to look good, but now it’s on them to guide us through the choppy stages of this “competitive rebuild”.
Another season in the books, and it was the best one yet. No Super Bowl, but the memories of the Bills and Colts game will last for a lifetime. A season filled with so many fun moments and games came to a screeching halt Sunday in the worst way. And that’s how Vikings football will always work. We’re just along for the ride, and this time it was a blast.
Professional Driver. Lover of all things sports. I once cut meat for Paul Allen and Mark Rosen. I talk on a podcast about men hugging each other aggressively.