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Vikings vs. Chiefs Week 5 Rehash

The Vikings continued their 2023 pattern of unforced errors with key drops on offense and some missed opportunities on defense.

Minnesota lost receiver Justin Jefferson to a hamstring injury early in the fourth quarter and was unable to complete a comeback in a 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

One pass to the end zone appeared to draw a pass interference flag that officials picked up without an infraction.

Then, Kirk Cousins was sacked on the game's final play before he could take a shot on a play that snapped from the 38-yard line with five seconds remaining.

Minnesota (1-4) will visit Chicago (1-4) at noon (CT) Sunday for Week 6.

Next Gen Stats

Blitz, blitz, blitz

The defenses for both teams were aggressive with their blitz rates.

According to Next Gen Stats, the Vikings blitzed Patrick Mahomes on 46.5 percent of his dropbacks in Week 5, the highest rate Mahomes has seen this season by a wide margin.

No other team had blitzed him on at least 20 percent of his dropbacks within a game.

Although the Vikings generated more pressures (eight for a 40-percent rate) compared to not blitzing (three for a 13-percent rate), Mahomes completed 14 of 19 passes for 135 yards with two touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 73.7 percent that was 6.2 percent higher than expected against the blitz. When Minnesota did not blitz, Mahomes completed 17 of 22 passes for 146 yards.

As for the Chiefs, Kansas City blitzed on 48 percent of Minnesota's dropbacks for its highest blitz rate of the season. The Chiefs combined blitz rate from Weeks 1-4 was 37.2 percent.

Cousins completed 11 of 22 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz. He was 18-for-25 with 187 yards when the Chiefs did not blitz.

Heat map

Mahomes kept targeting players who lined up in the slot, accounting for 20 of his 41 pass attempts, the fourth-highest rate of his career, according to NGS. On those passes, he completed 18 of 20 (90 percent) with 192 yards and both touchdowns.

Quick passes to the slot were helpful in mitigating Minnesota's blitz efforts. On passes thrown in under 2.5 seconds, he went 10-for-10 with 82 yards and the two scores.

Snap Counts

Cousins and four offensive linemen — LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Ezra Cleveland, RG Ed Ingram and RT Brian O'Neill — played all 72 snaps.

Center Garrett Bradbury returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 1 and played 71 snaps. He was forced to leave the field for a play because the independent spotter flagged him for a check-in. Bradbury was quickly cleared.

K.J. Osborn led all offensive skill players with 64 snaps, followed by T.J. Hockenson (57), Jordan Addison (54) and Jefferson (51).

At running back, Alexander Mattison played 37 offensive snaps, and Cam Akers was in for 21. Ty Chandler recorded Minnesota's long run of the day (15 yards) on a fake punt and did not play any offensive snaps.

Four defensive players — cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr., linebacker Jordan Hicks and safeties Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum — played all 66 defensive snaps. Josh Metellus played 56.

Outside linebackers Marcus Davenport (52) and Danielle Hunter (51) also played more than 75 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

From the Inbox

I've been a Vikings fan over 50 years. There's always something missing. There's plenty of talent on almost every Vikings team over the years, but let's be honest, if they do even get to the playoffs, they're not beating any of the teams that are elite. Time to clean house, make some trades, try to get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, get some good free agents and get a culture that's serious about being a championship team. It's over.

— Frankie in Connecticut

I don't know what's more surprising, the 12 giveaways (including eight fumbles lost) or the fact that Minnesota is only minus-12 in point differential.

The ball security issues seem to be a spinning wheel of "Who's gonna fumble next?"

Heading into Week 2 it was an "if" they clean up the fumbles…

Same for Week 3 and Week 4 and Week 5. It's become a bigger "if" the longer it's not been fixed.

There's a few more weeks before the trade deadline, but the coaches and players are not going to throw in the towel.

When you said ball just went over the outstretched hands of Camryn Bynum for a completion? It's a funny way to word it! Both radio announcers totally went off on how he mistimed his jump and was coming down! That can't happen! Why sugarcoat it when they were both right! Watch the play again! He blew it!!

— Rory Johannsen

Yes, the mistiming of his jump caused the ball to be caught by Justin Watson. Bynum owned it after the game.

"Coach put us in great positions to make plays like my play right there. I was in perfect position. I should've taken one more step to make my jump better," Bynum said. "As the ball was coming, I went up too early. And as I was coming down, the ball went right over my hand, so that's a miscue on me."

It was a play that needed to be made in that moment and one I'd imagine Bynum will be thinking about for quite some time. Maybe he'll get another opportunity like that.

*I'm sure (hopefully) someone in the organization has already thought about this, but have the guys gone with different gloves this year? Have they considered changing to a different type/brand? Even Pee-Wees don't drop the ball like we have to this point. *

Just trying to help,

— RJ in Del Rio, Texas (Vikings fan since 1962)

Aside from the turnovers, the drops have also really disrupted a good offensive flow. Each player usually has his own preference. Some use gloves that are part of the league's marketing partnership; others have their own providers.

I think the turnovers have wound players a little tighter, and they're not freely making plays they've made their entire football careers to this point.

[Does] Cousins' salary = outcome? Vikings brass needs to figure out ASAP and hopefully this current trend doesn't bleed into next season.

— Christopher Demuth

With Cousins in the final year of his current contract, there are quite a few discussions the team and QB will have to have at season's end.

Wins are always going to be connected to a starting quarterback, even though football is a team sport.

Cousins leads the NFL with 137 completions and 13 touchdowns, ranks second with 1,498 passing yards and seventh in passer rating (104.4), but he'll be the first to tell you he thinks he's left some opportunities on the table.

Does it seem like Cousins is playing for stats? One win he had only 135 yards passing. The losses he has been well over 250 yards each game.

— Tim from Nunn, Colorado

I sincerely believe Cousins would rather throw for 135 and win than post three bills in a loss.

Some of the stat discrepancy is whether or not the Vikings were leading or trailing in the fourth quarter. When trailing, the Vikings have tried to execute the comebacks through the air.

Are they ever going to address [the o-line] problem??? Kirk is running for his life!!

— Greg Olimb

We noted above how often the Chiefs sent blitzers. Kansas City Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a history of getting after quarterbacks.

There were a couple of instances where Cousins did improvise and navigate traffic/kick in a self-preservation setting amidst pressure.

I suggest we get way more aggressive, and if we lose, we lose. We need to get a top draft pick to replace Cousins if you're not gonna sign him. And J.J., come on man, pay the kid.

— Rob Sage

The defense has been fairly aggressive with its approach, from the high blitz rate to coverages.

There have been some situations that have forced some aggressive decisions on offense, but the Vikings also were trying to run the ball better than they did in Weeks 1-2. It happened in Weeks 3-4, but Sunday was ineffective.

I've been a Vikings fan for 55 loyal years now. I've seen a lot of games played by my beloved Vikings. I think this year is very different from the others. My only comment on this is, start using Addison more to get away from Jefferson as much. And please let Dalton Risner play. Take out Ingram.

— Message was sent without a name

Addison is continuing to show why he was a first-round selection. In addition to his skills at catching the football, he seemed to play incredibly fast Sunday. He screamed past people on his touchdown.

We're still waiting to learn more about Jefferson's injury, but's Ellis Williams covered what things might look like for the Vikings if Jefferson is sidelined. Multiple people are still interested in seeing Risner, but the Vikings have kept Ingram and Cleveland at the guard spots.

I haven't written in for a few years but just need to add my two cents after the Vikes have opened 1-4.

One way that's gone mostly unmentioned that could help our offense is to open it up with more "trick" plays, plays that would surprise a defense, the same plays that always seem to work against our own.

Where is the occasional jet sweep or reverse? Where is the flea flicker? Where is the direct snap to someone with speed like Ty Chandler? Where is the shovel pass to C.J. Ham when we desperately need a yard or two?

My only disappointment in K.O. is that for a former OC, his play-calling isn't much more daring than it was under the [Mike] Zimmer regime. C'mon Coach, add a little spice now and then and see what happens.

— Dan in Winona, Minnesota

Some good thoughts here from Dan.

I think the reason the Vikings have been a little less reliant on trick plays than some other teams is that there's a general confidence in the standard offensive system with Cousins at QB and the skill players.

The Vikings have moved the ball, but the team hasn't finished drives the way it should. Turnovers have completely upended opening possessions that should normally be a good chance for Minnesota to attack and put points on the board.

It also seemed like the Vikings were working Brandon Powell into the mix a bit more in Sunday's game for a couple of different looks. The fake punt by Chandler was great, but then he didn't have a snap on offense.

We'll see if a few more tricks and gadgets are added as the season progresses.

I'm disappointed in how the Vikings perform every other year. They play well and make it to the playoffs, and every other year, they play horribly. As a Vikings fan since 1972, it's the same old Vikings. What is the organization going to do to be productive and competitive every year? I believe they have a high-powered offense and aren't doing anything with it. Besides Justin, does anyone on the team want to win a Super Bowl?

— Jeff Walter

There's been quite a few ups and downs over the years. Those first few seasons after the 7-7 showing in 1972 (I've compared the mistakes made that season to some that we've seen so far this season) wound up having three Super Bowl appearances in a four-season span. But more recently, it's been incredibly difficult for the Vikings to build and maintain momentum. The team last won consecutive division titles in 2008-09.

The team has invested in facilities and in players, but the return hasn't been there so far this season. I do believe the roster and coaching staff are incredibly dedicated because of how close each of these games have been.

Trade Cousins for as many draft picks we can get. Between the bad playing team out there and the officials' calls, think more about next year, please!!!

— Sal V. in Connecticut

There are a few more weeks before the trade deadline, so the Vikings will have more clarity on their record and outlook at the end of the month.