EAGAN, Minn. — Give the Vikings some credit, as they sure know how to make things interesting.
That was evident in Minnesota's 27-24 overtime win Sunday over Jacksonville that featured some ups and downs from all three phases.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer chatted with the Twin Cities media via videoconference Monday afternoon to offer his assessment of the victory.
Zimmer said that although the list of things to clean up is lengthy, he also praised his team for finding a way to scratch out a win and pull to 6-6, which currently gives Minnesota the final Wild Card spot in the NFC.
"It was good to get a win yesterday, obviously," Zimmer said. "There are some areas we need to clean up and fix, but our guys fought hard. I think they've shown the last couple of weeks that we'll continue to fight.
"We just need to clean up some of the mistakes and play a little better than some of the times we are," Zimmer added. "There are times when we're playing really good and there's times we let things slide a little bit with our details, so we're going to have to get on top of that."
The Vikings have now won five of their past six games, with four of those victories coming by six or fewer points.
Zimmer said he likes the progress his team has made of late, but noted there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"We're getting better in a lot of areas," Zimmer said. "Defensively, we didn't start out the season very good. We continue to get better.
"The last two weeks, we played better and better while missing some of the guys we're missing," Zimmer added. "We still haven't put it all the way together yet. If we do that, then I think we have a chance to be pretty good."
Minnesota is on the road at Tampa Bay in Week 14. The Buccaneers, who are 7-5 and coming off a bye, currently hold the sixth spot in the NFC playoff picture.
Here are four other topics Zimmer discussed Monday:
1. Time will tell on Kendricks
One the biggest storylines out of Sunday's game was that Minnesota played without All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks, who apparently aggravated a calf injury in pregame that he suffered last week in practice.
Eric Wilson stepped into Kendricks' role of middle linebacker, while Todd Davis shifted into Wilson's role.
Zimmer offered the same status update on Kendricks that he did with cornerback Jeff Gladney, who left the game early in the fourth quarter with his own calf injury.
"No, we're just going to see how the week goes," Zimmer said.
The Vikings first practice to prepare for the Buccaneers will be Wednesday afternoon.
View game-action images as the Vikings take on the Jaguars during Week 13 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
2. Credit for Colquitt, Chisena
Minnesota's performance on special teams was a bit rocky Sunday, as Dan Bailey missed a pair of extra points and a late 51-yard field goal.
But the unit stepped up in overtime after the Vikings were forced to punt from their own 20-yard line. Britton Colquitt uncorked a 52-yard punt that was well-covered by Dan Chisena, who made the stop on a 1-yard return.
Chisena also drew a block-in-the-block call, which moved Jacksonville to its own 18. Three plays later, Harrison Smith snagged an interception in Jaguars territory that helped set up Bailey's 23-yard, game-winning field goal.
"It was big," Zimmer said of flipping field position by 62 yards. "I thought it was a great punt by Colquitt, and then Chisena, he made a great play — got down to beat the gunner, or beat the hold-up guy, and got down there.
"He actually got pushed in the back and made the tackle, and they lost another 10 yards there," Zimmer added. "That was big; we were 3rd-and-23 or something like that, and it flipped the field for us, and gave us an opportunity. I think that's when we got the interception with Harrison."
View photos of the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the 27-24 victory over the Jaguars at U.S. Bank Stadium.
3. Yet another close game
As mentioned above, Sunday's win was yet another close outing for the Vikings. Minnesota has played 12 games this far, with eight of them being decided by eight or fewer points.
The Vikings defense has been battle-tested in those games. The unit has been on the field with a lead late in the fourth quarter in games against the Titans, Texans, Seahawks, Packers, Bears, Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars.
Zimmer, who calls the Vikings defensive plays, was asked Monday how he approaches those frenzied late-game situations.
"I guess each week is different, based on who you're playing and what their mentality is in that two-minute drill, or whatever it is," Zimmer said. "Sometimes, it's a variation of pressure and coverage and different things. It just depends.
"We know that at that point in the game, we're trying to win it," Zimmer added. "So we're going to try to do everything we can to win the game, whether it's coverage or disguise or pressure."
Minnesota's season point differential is minus-10 (329 points allowed to 319 points scored), which ranks 18th in the league.
4. Something to watch on offense
Zimmer said after Sunday's game that he thought Jacksonville's defensive front seven appeared to play aggressively against the Vikings.
He reiterated that point Monday, and said the Jaguars (and some other teams) have stepped up their pressure of late.
Zimmer said that with opposing defenses blitzing more, they are looking to try and contain Dalvin Cook's rushing attempts. And if it's a pass for the Vikings, that means pressure is coming for Kirk Cousins.
"[Jacksonville] blitzed — basically Carolina did the same thing — they blitzed a lot of linebackers, blitzed the safeties off the edges, so they're trying to set the edges with those guys coming," Zimmer said. "And then if it happens to be a pass, they've got some extra rushers coming in there."
According to Next Gen Stats, the Jaguars rushed five players on 16 dropbacks and six players on two dropbacks. Cousins was sacked three times when Jacksonville brought at least one extra rusher, but he also managed to complete 8 of 15 passes for 100 yards and a score.
Zimmer said Minnesota's coaching staff will work to combat that in the coming weeks, beginning Sunday in Tampa Bay.
"We have some ways to affect that, as well. And you know, we're still scoring 26 points a game," Zimmer said. "But it is making it so, once we hit a few of those throws on it, I think it opened up the running game a little bit more toward, I think it was the fourth quarter there, that Dalvin had a chance to get some big runs."