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Another home game, another tremendous crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Tip of Jared Allen's hat to the folks who made it out and provided such a juiced atmosphere on a day when Allen was officially inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor in Jared Allen fashion.
That's 4-0 at home so far. Opponents must play an opportunistic Vikings team as well as the venue when they play at U.S. Bank Stadium.
It's a two-way street, because teams need to give fans reasons to be excited.
Fans that like to see the ground game chug were happy with 173 yards and three rushing scores and those who love defense could enjoy 3.0 sacks by Za'Darius Smith and interceptions by Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum.
On to the questions (as a reminder, we'll update with more Monday).
Great game! Well-fought victory. All facets contributed, and it was NEEDED! [DeAndre] Hopkins had a big day, but the defense stepped up when it had to. Not sure why Cameron Dantzler, Sr., was covering him all day with the success they were having, but a win is a win. The last punt of the game made me think of the "coffin corner." That seems to be a lost art. No one has done it in years. Why have teams gone away from the "coffin corner?"
— J.B. Brunet
Is it just me or has Cameron Dantzler taken a big step this year? I feel like he wasn't given enough opportunities last year, but he's really proving himself this year.
— Cody in Tucson, Arizona
We'll open this week with a bit of diverging thoughts on Dantzler.
I think Cody is correct and most would agree that Dantzler has taken a tremendous step forward. This story we published last week about how all the tricks that Peterson has learned along the way. The story included some insight from Dantzler about what Peterson has invested in him.
Dantzler was asked to do a lot as a rookie in 2020 without the benefit of an offseason. The Vikings then looked to veterans in 2021 by adding Peterson and Bashaud Breeland.
This year, with a new scheme, it's been Peterson and Dantzler, but the Vikings haven't "traveled" Peterson to where receivers go.
Hopkins is tremendously gifted. He went over 800 career receptions for his career and make a heck of a one-hander on a touchdown against Harrison Smith. Zach Ertz broke a tackle attempt by Dantzler on his touchdown, so there are a couple of things that Dantzler might want back, but at the same time, his play has elevated.
As for the coffin corner, which was a hallmark of former Vikings punter Greg Coleman, that final attempt by Ryan Wright did seem reminiscent of that approach. Directional punting has its place, especially that approach within a game.
Wright and the coverage unit have really worked well in tandem this season.
It is difficult for me to say that any particular player is not doing his job because I know they all put a tremendous amount of time and effort into being the best they can be. However, Greg Joseph is just not getting it done with his frequent XP and yes, long (and short) field goal misses. According to ESPN stats he is 30th in FG% and 30th in XP%. There may be factors such as injury, personal matters, etc., that I'm not aware of, and maybe the Vikes are totally invested in him, but it's only a matter of time before he will cost us a game and not for the first time. I'm also aware that there may not be any better options out there currently. Starting last year, every time he was up for a kick, it was gut-wrenching, waiting to see if he missed it or made it. I'm wondering what your thoughts are.
— Mike in Oklahoma (fan from North Minneapolis since 1969)
I might be in the minority when in contrast to fans out there, but I don't think it's time to put the panic button on Joseph.
Three of his five field goal misses this season have been from 56 yards. Sunday's was from that distance and was his second that's been blocked.
I'm far from being a kicking expert, but the longer a kick, the greater the change that the launch angle is lower and more likely to be blocked. That particular scenario was at the end of the half, so there was no immediate consequence like advantageous field position immediately awarded to the Cardinals.
Joseph is 16-for-19 on extra points after making four of five Sunday. PATs are important, and Joseph would likely be the first to say it. Football is a game of momentum and the opportunity Minnesota had to make it a two-score game, but teammates picked him up with the stop.
I'm know why Vikings fans are leery when field goal units take the field, but I don't believe there's an overwhelming alarm for concern.
View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings 34-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium on Oct. 30.
Hi SKOL Nation,
So stoked to finally see the potential of this team.
But on the other hand, where oh where is Kene Nwangwu?? He had so much skill and potential last season as our returner. And ever since we traded for [Jalen] Reagor...dude is like M.I.A.?? Why would the coaching staff decide not to use him in these situations anymore?
Nwangwu made a splash that's hard to replicate. He actually became the first player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in his first five NFL games.
This season, his longest return is 33. He's had a few chances, but on Sunday, Arizona opted to blast the kick deep with Rodrigo Blankenship, who recorded touchbacks on all six kicks. That could be a sign of respect by the Cardinals.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels said last week he's continuing to work with Nwangwu and the return unit. Timing of a new set up can be clutch, so we'll see how things go.
I also want to mention that he's been working as a gunner on special teams for the first time and contributing that way by pressuring punt returners.
Reagor had a quiet game Sunday with two punt returns for six yards, but Andy Lee and Arizona's coverage unit can receive some credit. Lee averaged 46.3 and netted 44.3.
The Vikings like having multiple ways to attack opponents and try to identify the best way, depending on each foe.
I'm seeing lots of mock trades with the Vikings, usually involving them receiving a CB or WR. I think if we could add another stud safety to put next to Hitman could really elevate the defense! And do we have the ability to create the cap space to pull off such a move?
— Colt (lifetime Vikings fan from South Dakota)
Bynum is in just his second season of the position and in a new scheme this year. I think the coaches like the way his skill set fits what they are trying to accomplish.
He and the Hitman are continuing to work together.
As for any potential moves before the deadline at 3 p.m. (CT) on Nov. 1, we'll see if first-year Head Coach Kwesi Adofo-Mensah fields any offers or pursues anything.
I like this Vikings team so far. They show a bit of grit. However, everyone seems to admit there is room for improvement. With that in mind and the trade deadline coming up, I think that maybe we should go after either somebody in the defensive backfield to help shore that up or a coverage LB on defense. Not as many holes on the offense but maybe another WR or TE would help. I would say interior lineman, but I don't know if that would hurt the cohesiveness of the unit. What do you think? Skol!
— John Moran in Chincoteague Island, Virginia
We'll start with John's point about liking this team so far. It's an incredibly connected team that's a blend of vets and youthful contributors. Any time a team considers altering what it's built through trade, it would probably be best-served to make sure the chemistry that has served a team well will not be altered in an adverse way.
Teams are always looking for ways to get better.
People smarter than me and much better-versed with analytics and more seasoned with evaluations are in charge of that. If the Vikings make moves, our Vikings Entertainment Network team will be happy to bring you content on any newcomers.
Chris Reed almost was a starter at the beginning season. Played good in preseason. He had a good PFF. Wondering why he is not getting a few snaps? I'm sure he needs the work. Does he have a weakness that keeps him out? Thanks for update.
— Gary Gimble
I thought Reed had a strong offseason, but he wasn't the only offensive lineman to do so.
Thus far, the former Minnesota State Maverick has been inactive since joining the Vikings. Minnesota has been able to keep its starting offensive line in-tact, a luxury other teams are certainly looking at with envy, including multiple recent opponents.
Reed is going about his work as a professional, and reserve players are always one snap away.
He's part of the depth that coaches have lauded.
Good morning, Craig,
The remaining Vikings game schedule looks interesting. I'm going to jump ahead to the final two away games of the season. Green Bay and Chicago. I have fond memories of the past games at [Lambeau] or Soldier with snow or freezing rain. Vikings fans huddled in parkas and blankets supporting the team. Some of the greats playing. Foreman, Starr, Singletary. It is games like these that show the grit and backbone of the Vikings and fans, and I suspect it won't be the last. Come December I'll bet coach O'Connell will be training the team in the cold more for those last two games. In any event, as to the outcome of the games, they should be exciting again to watch and reminisce.
— Skol, Jerry Beck in Ohio
As a Tennessee transplant, I've greatly appreciated this warmer October than I remember (Note: I'm not doing meteorological research) since moving here in 2014.
One of my favorite pictures all-time is Jim Marshall standing up in the snow between plays. Also love the highlight from the 1969 Thanksgiving Game of his no-look lateral to Alan Page in snowy Detroit.
I've had a few people write in worried that the Vikings won't be ready for the elements with trips to Lambeau Field and Soldier Field, but the Vikings have handled some unique road trips so far with two wins in three chances.
This next stretch will be curious. Sunday's weather at Washington is forecasted to be quite pleasant for football. We'll see what Buffalo has in store on Nov. 13.
As for when I go back and look at pics at the Old Met, I'm always amazed by the mettle of Vikings fans. I think what they endured on those frigid days is continued in new and different ways through the vigor of fans at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The following have been added in a Monday evening update for questions that came in after initially published.
I will be the first to say it. The 6-1 Vikings are overrated, especially the play of Cousins. It is a fraud to think this team that has a QB that can't run, panics and can only hit a receiver if he has 10 seconds in the pocket. The Vikings have won by luck each time and not convincing wins with only the Green Bay game, but they are a sub-.500 team, too. Did we beat anyone that has a real winning record? This team will NEVER win a super bowl with Cousins raking in 90 MILLION. He was supposed to be the missing link when in fact he is the weak link! Anyone can throw a 5-yard pass and let receivers run up his bogus stats.
Watch what happens when they play teams with a winning record like Dallas, Philly and Buffalo… Playoff team we are, but first-round elimination will happen, just ask Cousins.
— V. Maz
I make it a point to include takes in this space that I don't necessarily agree with because I believe in dialogue and sharing fans' sentiments.
I feel confident saying Cousins' teammates believe in his play. The coaches know much more than I with regard to what is being asked of him on every snap, including the important parts of the game within a game (alignments, command of the huddle, assigning protection, recognizing pre-snap looks by the defense and changing something if needed). Then, there's getting the ball where it needs to go within the rhythm of the offense and accuracy.
The timing of this email was particularly surprising to me since Cousins ran for a 17-yard touchdown, led Minnesota to a 5-for-5 day in the red zone and totaled a passer rating of 103.0.
If anyone could make the pass that Cousins completed to K.J. Osborn for the final score, I'd probably be doing that instead of typing.
Lastly, who is overrating the Vikings? They are one of five NFL teams with six wins before November. The schedule looks like it will be tougher as the season progresses based on what other teams have done so far. The Vikings keep saying they want to keep improving. They'll have more opportunities to prove themselves.
Ed Donatell's defense looked amazing in stopping the Cards. Their QB Murray will get his yards, but all in all, we contained their explosive offense. That being said, when will we see consistency from our Capt. Kirk? I can appreciate that all NFL defenses can be challenging to any offense, but honestly, this game should not have been close.
The game could've have been over if Kirk had run 2 yards in the third quarter instead of trying to throw one of many questionable pass attempts.
At times he can seem unstoppable, and then other times, he dances in the pocket, doesn't roll out or holds on to ball far too long or throws into coverage. I scratch my head.
The TD to [Osborn] was an incredible catch thrown to a very tight window. It might look good on paper, but these are big men playing with a pigskin.
— Nicholas Balkou
We've included fans' criticisms of the Vikings defense in Mailbags earlier this season—usually with a rebuttal by me that it may not be as bad as it's seemed in the moment or reminders of how many new starters/that the other team gets paid handsomely, too.
The defense has really shut down the run since Week 5 against Chicago and is starting to impose more will as it takes shape.
The biggest thing for me, which I led Sunday's observations with, was how Minnesota limited Arizona to just a field goal after the Cardinals got the football at the Vikings 24-yard line. It was a critical red zone stop that kept the Vikings ahead 28-26.
I'd imagine Cousins' list of plays he would like to have back might start with the one you mentioned when he could have run for another first down.
Nex Gen Stats calculated the completion probability of the pass to Osborn at 29.4 percent, which was the 16th least likely throw and catch of Week 8 (through Sunday's games).
Been reading and hearing a lot about folks worried about the kicker.
Everyone on the team makes a mistake, often changing the outcome.
Seems we often forget a fumble here or a pick there. A bad call by the ref. ... A false start or hold. A missed tackle or block. A punt shanked, and yes, a kick missed.
But it is and always has been a team sport.
Here is hoping to the Vikings fans never forget that.
— RG Hughes
Football is the ultimate team sport if you ask me. While there are times when the direct line of responsibility can be drawn to a particular player, there also is an opportunity to cover a teammate's mistake by making the next play.
Problems can arise when a team starts to press (see Minnesota at Philadelphia in Week 2 — not the only reason the Eagles won that one; Philly played better that night) and overcompensate.
Seems like things go the best when there is a personal accountability by a player to the rest of the team and an understanding that no one must do it all.
With all the trade talk surrounding the Vikings needing to trade for a receiver, I find myself wondering why is Reagor stuck as a punt returner. Did his skills diminish that much in Philly that quickly?
— Cory Thoennes in Kerrville, Texas
After the NFL, the professional sports league I most closely follow is Major League Baseball. I'm always amazed at the amount of activity that happens in baseball and the way teams become hyper sellers/buyers.
Football doesn't have quite that flurry of activity, although there seem to be some major moves each season. It's much harder to plug and play in football.
With regard to Reagor, he might still be getting worked into the new offense. He's only been here for two months. This past Sunday aside, again crediting the Cardinals punting and coverage, he's really started to make an impact as a punt returner. Opportunities in that role may not be like playing 60-plus snaps like Jefferson and Thielen, but it's still another way to make the team more complete.
My family and I were at the home game against the Cardinals, and it was incredible! We controlled the ball on each side of the game and kept the energy/momentum up. Awesome whole team win with every player contributing!
Go Vikings! Keep it going!
— Hanson Family from Spokane, Washington
Thanks for making the trip from Washington and adding to the atmosphere. It seemed like Minnesota did control so much of the first half to only have a four-point lead.
The biggest takeaway I had was the way the Vikings ran the football for 6.0 yards per carry and consistently popped off chunks of yards.
I've been a die-hard Vikes fan since the '70's. I know what I see, and it's hard to think of them as a true contender. Only difference from last season and this one is we have gotten the breaks to pull out one-score wins. They never 'put their foot down on an a opponent's neck,' so to speak. Even average-to-below teams are never out of the game. They lost to the Eagles and probably will lose to the Bills. Could end up 14-3 and still not confident can make a deep run in the playoffs. 'Fool's Gold' as usual. Vikings seem to always break us fans hearts. Once in my lifetime, I'd to see them Super Bowl Champs.
— Frankie in Stamford, Connecticut
The Vikings get another nail bitter win. I feel like I need to buy stock in antacids with this team. They should be able to beat the Commanders. The big test in Buffalo will tell what they are made of. It would be nice to relax and enjoy a game, but this team likes to keep fans on the edge of their seats. We will take all the wins we can get — a big test coming over the next half. Buffalo, Cowboys and Giants, to say the least.
— Bill K. from North Carolina (fan since 1965)
Appreciate the support in Connecticut and North Carolina, as well.
I've been a proponent of cautious optimism, but I also understand developed skepticism. The NFL is on a pace to set a record for one-score games in a season, and the Vikings are definitely doing their part to help.
A phrase that continues to be used is winning on the edges/margins.
While that might not provide the relaxation of a sauna or a day at the beach, it's more the norm in a league that prides itself on its parity.
The Vikings only trailed in that game for 3:14, and according to Next Gen Stats, Minnesota never faced a win probability of under 50 percent, even when trailing for that brief bit in the third quarter.
Some believe it's possible to make your own breaks. I think there's an element to that, as well as luck and health, focused planning, detailed execution, hard work and staying grounded by goals ahead.
That Bills game will have a lot of luster and be a challenge for sure. Buffalo is undefeated at home and leads the NFL in net touchdowns (plus-13).
But the Vikings next stop is Washington, and this squad will focus on that opportunity first. The Commanders have improved to 4-4 and are eighth in the NFC.
View Vikings players in Big Head Mode during Sunday's 34-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Went to London and cheered the victory. Looking forward to seeing them next weekend & cheering them on to victory against the Commanders. Vikings fan in Florida ready to yell SKOL!
So glad you made the London trip and hope it was as wonderful of an experience during your travels as it was for the team.
This will be the first time I've ever visited FedEx Field, and I'm anticipating there will be another strong showing of Vikings fans.
Players often comment how well our fans travel/represent at away games.
I've noticed when the Vikings have long, drawn-out scoring drives, it helps set up the defense on the other side of the ball.
— Dan Jones (Skol from Albert Lea, Minnesota)
As much as we all love the explosive plays that happen each week in the NFL, there's a lot to be said about a seven-to-12-play drive that covers about 75 yards and lasts four-plus minutes.
Aside from being fun to see an offense find its rhythm, staying on the field allows defenders to go through, make any adjustments and rejuvenate to go all-out the next time they are on the field.
Minnesota kind of set the tone early with it's 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the game's first 4:48.
It would have been nice to see the offense get a first down on either of its final two possessions to help ice the game.