Minnesota put the good, the bad and the ugly on tape at Kansas City yesterday.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune posted his five takeaways following the game, which included observations of all three phases.
Craig led off his list with a shanked punt by Britton Colquitt that gave the Chiefs positive field position to start their game-winning field goal drive. He wrote:
Vikings punter Britton Colquitt admitted Tyreek Hill’s presence caused the shanked 27-yard punt that put the Chiefs on the Vikings 45-yard line and led to Harrison Butker’s 44-yard field goal as time expired in Sunday’s 23-20 loss at Kansas City.
Craig quoted Colquitt, who told media members he focused on “doing whatever I could” to avoid putting the ball in Hill’s hands.
“I definitely feel I let our team down at the worst time,” Britton said. “But if that guy [Hill] gets the ball in his hands, he’s the best, most dangerous person in the NFL.”
Craig delved into a career-high receiving yard game for Laquon Treadwell, the Chiefs’ stifling of the Vikings run game and the success rate of Minnesota’s blitzes, most of which came in the second half.
He also pointed out that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has won three of six challenges this season but is 0-for-3 on the ones involving pass interference.
The Chiefs completed a 4-yard pass in the second quarter to set up second-and-6 from the Vikings 12. Zimmer challenged because he felt receiver Sammy Watkins executed an illegal pick on linebacker Eric Kendricks. And Zimmer was right. But he also knows the NFL has been steadfast for weeks in rejecting almost all pass interference challenges.
“I thought it was a pick,” Zimmer said. “It’s a gamble any time you challenge those, but they have to be held accountable, too.”
PFF highlights pros and cons of Cousins’ performance at KC
Analytics site Pro Football Focus weekly dives into Sunday’s slate of games with its “Re-Focused” series that evaluates each team’s performance.
The PFF analysis team had a few takeaways from the Vikings performance, including the pros and cons of quarterback Kirk Cousins’ outing:
There were some good moments from Kirk Cousins, but problematic accuracy left a lot of yards and good situations on the field. Cousins has been playing spectacularly well the past month, but his November effort resembled his shaky September rather than his outstanding October.
PFF also pointed out that the Vikings struggled to contain speedster Tyreek Hill, who racked up 140 yards and a touchdown on just six catches.
Spotlighted as positive notes were rookie tight end Irv Smith, Jr., and defensive end Everson Griffen.
Second-round tight end Irv Smith, Jr., looks set to become a bigger and bigger part of the offense, especially if it takes Adam Thielen time to get healthy. He matched a career-high for targets, and while the stat line doesn’t jump out at you, it doesn’t show the mismatch he looks like on the field for this offense.
As the game wore on, Everson Griffen seemed to figure out Cam Erving and then unload a pass-rush that Erving wasn’t equipped to deal with. His ability to get around Erving late in the game looked like it might be enough to get the Vikings the win, but regardless of the result, his effort can’t be faulted.
View game action images as the Vikings took on the Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
‘Concerns’ valid after Vikings narrow loss to Chiefs, but don’t panic
Had the Vikings pulled out a win on the road on Sunday, they would have the same record as the Packers, who were defeated by the Chargers.
But Minnesota still stands with a respectable 6-3 record (second in the NFC North) and would have a Wild Card berth if the playoffs started today.
Following Sunday’s games, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic published an “NFL Panic Index” and evaluated levels of fan concern following their teams’ losses. He wrote the following about the Vikings:
There are definitely concerns about how the Vikings played in their 26-23 loss to the Chiefs. Kirk Cousins and the offense got the ball with 2:30 left and the game tied at 23. They went backward during a three-and-out and had a terrible punt, and the Chiefs picked up a first down before kicking the game-winning field goal. Cousins has been outstanding this season, but he completed just 50 percent of his passes in this game and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt.
Kapadia acknowledged the difficulty of Minnesota’s next two road games, prime-time contests at Dallas and Seattle, respectively, but said it’s not time to panic about the Vikings situation.
They’re 6-3, well-positioned for a Wild Card berth and within striking distance of the Packers for first place. Let’s chalk this up to a bad game.