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Lunchbreak: Vikings Earn 'A- Grade' After Another Wild Win

The Vikings have shown a knack for theatrics through six games, five of which have been decided by seven or fewer points.

Yet for all of its ups and downs, Minnesota finds itself at 3-3 entering the bye week after a 34-28 overtime win Sunday against Carolina.

The Vikings weren't perfect against the Panthers, but John Breech of CBS Sports liked Minnesota's performance for most of the Week 6 contest.

As a result, Breech handed out an ‘A- grade’ to Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's squad after their third win of the 2021 season.

Breech wrote:

For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins came up clutch for Minnesota. Cousins threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, he threw for 50 yards in OT, including a 27-yard game-winning TD to K.J. Osborn. Cousins got a lot of help from Dalvin Cook, who finally looked healthy while rushing for 140 yards.

This game also gave us the reemergence of Adam Thielen, who went over 100 yards for the first time this season. This grade isn't an 'A+' or even an 'A' for the Vikings because they were a disaster on special teams. Not only did they give up a TD on a blocked punt, but kicker Greg Joseph also missed two field goals, including one kick that would have won this game in regulation.

The Vikings put up an astounding 571 yards of total offense Sunday, which ranks as the third-highest total in franchise history.

Cousins and Cook played big roles in that yardage total, and both are up for a weekly award because of it.

Cousins has been nominated for the FedEx Air Player of Week for his performance, while Cook is one of three players up for the FedEx Ground Player of Week.

You can vote here for both players.

Cronin gives confidence level in Vikings going forward

The common theme from Zimmer and Vikings players after Sunday's win was that the team needs to find a way to finish games without adding extra drama.

Minnesota, which led at halftime, allowed a blocked punt for a score before reeling off 16 straight points. But the Vikings also allowed the Panthers to claw back and force overtime.

ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin wrote that Minnesota needs to develop a killer instinct, especially with a tough slate of games looming after the bye week.

She wrote:

The Vikings have yet to master the art of putting away bad teams and keeping their foot on the accelerator. An overtime win against Carolina was the result of overcoming another late-game scare from an inferior opponent after blowing an 11-point lead. Minnesota twice played for field goals when it should have gone for it on fourth down. After a failed 2-point conversion in the [second] quarter, it seemed like the Vikings were chasing those missed points all game.

The same issues with the offense at the end of the first half remains, and the Vikings vaunted defense allowed the Panthers to go 96 yards on 11 plays in 1:27 to force the extra period. Like it or not, this conservative play won't beat good teams coming out of the bye.

Cronin also offered up her weekly confidence meter for Minnesota. She pegged the Vikings with a 4.5 out of 10, which was a half-point drop from a week ago.

She opined:

Minnesota's schedule after its Week 7 bye is brutal. The Vikings have the Cowboys at home on Halloween night, face the Ravens and Chargers on the road in back-to-back weeks, then have the Packers (home) and 49ers (road). Getting more than one win in that stretch will be challenging.

The Vikings are currently tied with the Bears for second place in the NFC North with a 3-3 record. Green Bay leads the division at 5-1, and Detroit is 0-6.