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Vikings at Bengals Week 15 Rehash

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings fell 27-24 in overtime at the Bengals on Saturday.

The loss, which occurred after starting the fourth quarter with a 17-3 lead, dropped Minnesota to 7-7.

The Vikings, however, remain as the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs, and control their own postseason fate.

Before turning the page to hosting the Lions (10-4) at noon (CT) this Sunday, here's a look at some of the deeper elements from the game at Cincinnati.

Next Gen Stats

An Improbable, Dazzling TD

Jordan Addison reached 20.03 mph on his 37-yard touchdown reception for the fastest speed he's recorded as a ball carrier this season. Addison gained 34 yards after the catch, which was 32 more than expected on the play.

According to Next Gen Stats, the completion probability of 21.4 percent on the play was the lowest for any catch by a Vikings receiver this season. NGS measured 0.5 yards of separation from the nearest defender when he let go of the pass, and Addison had 0.8 yards of separation when he secured the catch.

Addison & Chandler exceed expectations

Addison totaled 111 yards on six receptions, catching the ball every time he was targeted. He set career highs for receiving yards over expectations (61) and yards after catch over expectations (41). Three of his catches, including both touchdowns, were "tight window" throws.

Ty Chandler made his first start and rushed for career highs of 23 carries and 132 yards. According to NGS, he recorded 23 yards above expectations, and totaled 123 yards on 21 of 23 carries when Mullens started under center.

Chandler was nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week. You can vote for him at **** between now and 2 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.

Browning against the zone

NGS evaluated the Vikings defense as playing zone coverage on 93.5 percent of Jake Browning's dropback passes and noted that Browning completed 29 of 39 passes for 324 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Hunter provides heat

Danielle Hunter generated a game-high eight quarterback pressures on 43 pass rushes, which was good for a pressure rate of 18.6 percent. According to NGS, the average time was 3.89 seconds.

Snap Counts

Mullens and all five offensive linemen who started — left tackle Christian Darrisaw, left guard Dalton Risner, center Garrett Bradbury, right guard Ed Ingram and right tackle David Quessenberry — played the whole game.

Justin Jefferson led offensive skill players with 65 snaps, followed by Addison (62) and tight end T.J. Hockenson (59) and Chandler (55).

Receiver K.J. Osborn played 37 offensive snaps, and tight end Josh Oliver was in for 35.

Fullback C.J. Ham (11), tight end Johnny Mundt (seven), running back Kene Nwangwu (seven) and Brandon Powell (two) rounded out the day for the offense.

Rookie linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., played all 70 defensive snaps. So did safeties Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum and Harrison Smith.

Cornerbacks Byron Murphy, Jr. (69), and Akayleb Evans (68) and outside linebackers D.J. Wonnum and Hunter (66) each played more than 94 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

Harrison Phillips (54) again led all Vikings defensive linemen. He was followed by Jonathan Bullard, who played 43 snaps before suffering an ankle injury.

From the Inbox

Wondering if you saw Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner's breakdown of the game film of the Raiders game? How he believes [Joshua] Dobbs should not have been benched. What do you say about O'Connell's poor play calling in the last two games? Especially with third- & fourth-and-inches in OT at Bengals?? Chandler was running very well — run him!! I question the coaching when a QB and team get worse from Atlanta to Cincinnati?? Do you think O'Connell has made bad calls in close games from Denver game to Bengals game?

Thank you,

— Gary

I always try to make clear I don't have all the answers. I don't know as much about football as Warner or members of any NFL coaching staff.

Once I saw so much commentary about Warner's video, I pulled it up and played it on my phone last week while I was doing the dishes.

One thing at the front of my mind was that the game plan against the Raiders was based on having Jefferson for the whole game, and he was knocked from the game after catching a high pass over the middle from Dobbs. It's quite possible some of the plays that were getting critiqued as not having options for Dobbs to go with the football would have been different because of Jefferson's elite talent.

The elevated vantage points of the press boxes in Las Vegas and Cincinnati offered an opportunity to see the spacing contrasts of when the rhythm and timing are more in sync. Neither Dobbs nor Mullens has been as accurate as Kirk Cousins likely would have continued to be.

It's tough because Dobbs was able to make key plays against the Falcons and Saints in games that could be incredibly important in case tiebreakers are needed, but teams were getting better at taking away his threat as a runner, and the rhythm and timing were off. It's a little harder to see on the TV copy because the cameras usually follow the football for obvious reasons. I think when the dust settles however it does on this season, we'll be grateful for those two key wins, but it's O'Connell's job to try to react with the team status as factors change.

The Vikings scored touchdowns on their first possessions of each half for the first time this whole season with Mullens at QB. His comfort with playing under center was able to complement the play-pass game. While receivers did provide him with some help by making some nice, contested catches, he completed 26 of 33 for 303 yards with two touchdowns and had a passer rating of 99.9, despite the two interceptions.

Mullens is far from the first Viking to turn the ball over in opponents' territory this season, but if he can eliminate that going forward, Minnesota can build on the positives and hopefully capitalize during this critical stretch.

I don't know the number of discussions behind the scenes that led to trying the push play with the personnel that was used and then opting for it again.

O'Connell participated in a virtual session with media members on Monday and was again asked about the sequence. He said the following:

"I think anytime a play doesn't work out you're always going to look at what we could've done differently. There was a reason behind what we were trying to get done," O'Connell said. "It had had some effectiveness earlier on in the game when we were able to do that, albeit off of tempo, which was the preferred method, but yeah, I think, in that situation, the best thing is always to get big, especially from the standpoint of the guys potentially pushing, but at the same time, we had seen on tape some things Cincinnati would do, possibly zeroing up the nose [tackle] over Garrett [Bradbury] and some bigger groupings, and thought that might limit our ability to get that initial surge, which is the most important thing regardless of the push on the quarterback sneak play, we saw that kind of play out earlier on in the football game. We just didn't get it done in that moment.

"We've been pretty successful with the sneak play and pretty successful overall in those short yardage situations this year, but all that means absolutely nothing when you don't get it done in that moment and inevitably, it's on me, and I have to give our guys the best possible chance to have success in that moment, and we didn't get it done, and Cincinnati capitalized on it and won the football game," he added.

Cincinnati was able to use a timeout before Minnesota could try to implement tempo and quick snap the Vikings on the third-and-1 play. Then, there's was a bit of confusion as to whether the ball had reached the line to gain. Ultimately, officials told O'Connell they had reviewed the spotting of the football, so he opted not to use a timeout.

Would game planners consider using [Joshua] Dobbs in some form of Wildcat option? Those Mullens tush-push attempts to gain inches were painful. Without the tush-push, Dobbs' leg muscle could have gained the first. Then put Mullens back in to sustain another drive. Would Dobbs be willing to take a secondary role like that?

— Todd in Belgrade, Montana

I think the Vikings and several other teams logjammed around the .500 mark right now consider any and every option they have. Based on the decision to have Dobbs inactive as the emergency quarterback, he could not have entered Saturday's game unless Mullens and Jaren Hall suffered injuries.

Dobbs is a good teammate, and I'm sure he's eager to help the team win in any way possible.

In order to have this as an option going forward, the Vikings would need to have all three QBs active, which is probably not as enticing as trying to provide more depth elsewhere on the roster, or changing to have Dobbs as the second QB and Hall as the emergency option. Hall appears better positioned to fill in for Mullens based on their collective time on-task together in the system than Dobbs would be.

Do you think that if Brian O'Neil would have been able to play, we could've run behind him and gotten the first down??

— Greg Olimb

I thought Quessenberry played well while filling in for O'Neill. The design of the play is to surge quickly and get the ball north (literally the direction the Vikings were trying to move). Cincinnati created a double team on center Garrett Bradbury and plunged forward, particularly on the fourth-and-1.

My question is why doesn't coach utilize C.J. Ham in short-yardage situations? He's had one carry this year for 7 yards. Typically in years past he's been pretty automatic at the goal line or getting a first down.

— Chris in Dayton, Ohio

There have been plenty of questions about why Ham was not in the game.

O'Connell said he wanted to have 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end and three receivers) on the field in trying to play the chess match with the Bengals. He also said he didn't want to pull the ball back from the line of scrimmage and do a hand-off.

There's no shortage of alternate universes that could have had different approaches, including having Ham tote the rock or deliver assistance. Maybe something with him and Oliver providing a push?

Maybe going big and decoying to give Jefferson, Addison or Hockenson a 1-on-1 with a defender. Maybe trying to draw Cincinnati offsides and either using a timeout to set up something else or even taking the 5-yard penalty and punting to a team that had just suffered an injury to its returner at the end of regulation.

Bottom line is no matter how much we think about the sequence (I've replayed it Saturday, Sunday and Monday in my head), it's not going to change.