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After Further Review: Pressure Affects Red Zone Opportunity

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

The Vikings were successful at scoring touchdowns on three of four trips to the red zone on Sunday, but one of the stretches of an up-and-down day that Minnesota wanted back was a red zone possession just before halftime.

Rather than being able to put the ball in the paint for a lead at the break, the Vikings settled on a 29-yard field goal.

The failure to add another three or four points loomed large in the 26-23 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

Dalvin Cook rushed for a gain of 9 on a first-and-10 from the Kansas City 24 to set up a second-and-1 with 40 seconds remaining.

Minnesota had a timeout remaining but turned to the air for six consecutive pass attempts. Kirk Cousins was 1-for-6 for 4 yards during the stretch.

The Vikings mixed personnel and where players lined up over the six plays, but Cousins attempted every pass from the pocket. Minnesota left a timeout — and the option of another run play — on the table as it headed into halftime.

The Chiefs varied their pressure and coverage strategy during the stretch.

Q2, 0:40 remaining — Second-and-1 at the Kansas City 15

The Vikings use 12 personnel (running back Dalvin Cook, tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr.) out of the shotgun formation with receivers Stefon Diggs and Bisi Johnson on the outside. Smith, Jr., is in the slot.

The Chiefs bluff with a blitz up the middle with Anthony Hitchens but drop the linebacker into coverage on Rudolph.

Cousins has time but doesn't see a viable option. He throws it beyond Smith, Jr., on purpose to play another down.


Q2, 0:34 remaining — Third-and-1 at the Kansas City 15

The Vikings have the same personnel in the game but line up in a tighter formation with Diggs on the outside left and Johnson on the right.

The Chiefs only rush three and drop eight players into coverage. Even though Kansas City rushed fewer defenders than the previous play, more pressure is created on the pocket by Chris Jones in a 1-on-1 against Josh Kline.

Cousins has Cook in the right flat but heaves it deep in the direction of Rudolph beyond all players.


Q2, 0:29 remaining — Fourth-and-1 at the Kansas City 15

The Vikings have the same personnel again but line up Smith, Jr., on the outside to the left, opposite Diggs on the right. Johnson moves into the slot.

The Chiefs rush four and drop seven, but cornerback Charvarius Ward abandons Smith, Jr.

Cousins sees this and fires, but the rookie tight end is forced to make a diving catch with Ward approximately 8 yards away.

The rookie gets up and makes forward progress, but Ward recovers and pushes him out of bounds. Smith's forward momentum as he goes out of bounds causes the clock to stop and allows Minnesota to keep its final timeout.


Q2, 0:23 remaining — First-and-10 at the Kansas City 11

The Vikings go with 11 personnel (with running back Ameer Abdullah in for Cook and Rudolph still in at tight end). Laquon Treadwell has been brought in for Smith, Jr.

Kansas City crowds the line before the snap and blitzes with linebacker Damien Wilson.

Cousins floats one off his back foot, fade-away-jumper style, in the direction of Treadwell and Rudolph, but neither is able to run under it.

The pressure keeps him from spotting Abdullah come open at the 5-yard line on the left side of the play.

Q2, 0:18 remaining — Second-and-10 at the Kansas City 11

Cook returns to the game and motions out to the right.

The Chiefs are able to create pressure with just a four-man rush, and Cousins throws the ball out of harm's way in the vicinity of Johnson in the back left of the end zone.

Q2, 0:13 remaining — Third-and-10 at the Kansas City 11

The Vikings again line up Cook on the outside as a receiver and leave Rudolph in to help block.

Cousins and the Vikings try one more shot at the end zone with a pass to Diggs down the left sideline, but the ball is overthrown.