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Lunchbreak: An Outlier for Vikings Seasons in Home Games

EAGAN, Minn. – Sunday's loss to the Packers marked the last game the Vikings will play at U.S. Bank this season.

Even if Minnesota makes the playoffs, the team would be on the road, regardless of matchup or a deep postseason run.

The Star Tribune looked back on the Vikings home performances this year, putting the 2023 season in historical perspective. Minnesota dropped its first three home games by a combined 14 points. It was that type of year for the Vikings and their fans.

Reporter Ben Goessling noted how much of an outlier Minnesota's 2-6 record in home games is:

The 2011 Vikings, playing with a rookie quarterback in Leslie Frazier's first season as head coach while embarking on perhaps the largest roster reset of the Wilf family's ownership, lost seven of their eight games at the Metrodome, dropping six of those games by six [or fewer] points.

The 1984 Vikings were beaten in six of their eight games at the Metrodome, losing four times by at least two touchdowns in a 3-13 season that went so poorly, Bud Grant came out of retirement to coach one more season after Les Steckel's firing.

Until Sunday, those teams were the only two in Vikings history to finish with six home losses.

The Vikings have historically and recently enjoyed one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. Last season under first-year Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, the Vikings were 8-1 at home.

Goessling added:

The Vikings had built one of the NFL's most consistent home-field advantages in their first seven seasons at U.S. Bank Stadium, buoyed by sellout crowds and elaborate in-game productions to a 39-18 regular-season record at home. Only the Chiefs (with 44 wins) and the Packers (with 42) had won more home games in that time, with four other teams — the Ravens, Steelers, Patriots and Cowboys — tied with the Vikings at 39. Their lone home playoff victory in that time, their 2017 NFC Divisional Round win over the Saints, ended with the most euphoric finish in Vikings history.

Goessling pointed to Minnesota's first three home games of 2023, a 20-17 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 1, a 28-24 loss to the L.A. Chargers in Week 3 and a 27-20 decision to Kansas City in Week 5 as "games changed by a goal-line interception before halftime, a game-winning-TD-turned-interception in the fourth quarter and an injury to Justin Jefferson."

After [Kirk] Cousins' stirring performance in a Monday night win over the 49ers and Joshua Dobbs' lone victory as the starting quarterback against the Saints, the Vikings lost all three division games at home, falling to the Bears by two points and the Lions by six before the Packers became the first team to beat them by more than one score this season.

The Athletic Reviews Kirk Cousins' Sounding the Gjallarhorn

Things did not end well for the Vikings on New Year's Eve, but the team's home finale at U.S. Bank Stadium started with a bang.

Cousins (alongside his oldest son Cooper) sounded the Gjallarhorn in electric fashion.

The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski wrote about Cousins and how his Gjallarhorn moment revealed a personality that was somewhat hidden in his earlier years with Minnesota.

When Cousins first arrived in Minnesota, his sometimes robotic personality and cautious approach did not exactly endear him to Vikings fans. His play on the field under Mike Zimmer often mimicked his careful and vague press conferences.

But over the last two years, Cousins has come out of his shell, both on and off the field.

Starring in Netflix's Quarterback series with Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes elevated Cousins' profile and helped endear him to NFL fans around the league. He was leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury at Green Bay in Week 8.

Krawczynski continued examining Cousins' evolution.

Now, here he stood on a balcony overlooking the stadium, and he was coming out of his shirt. Cousins walked into camera view, tore his jacket off and stood there bare-chested with a giant, gold rope chain around his neck, "Kirk-O Chainz" in real life. His son followed suit, taking his own sweatshirt off and performing the "SKOL" chant as 66,000 fans roared their approval.

It was a signature moment for a player who is wrapping up his sixth season and current contract.

Click here to read the rest of The Athletic's story on Cousins and the Vikings.