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Lunchbreak: Extra Points, Rookie Production & CBS' Grade of Vikings-Ravens

The Vikings are 3-5 after a second straight loss and second in three overtime outings this season.

Minnesota fell in heart-crushing fashion to Baltimore Sunday afternoon, and there are several observations to be made about the contest. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune rolled out his "5 Extra Points" column Monday morning and covered variety of topics, including disappointing officiating. Craig wrote:

NFL officiating continues to struggle, to say the least. The Vikings should have had three takeaways Sunday, but the first one on the first drive of the game was negated when defensive end D.J. Wonnum was called for a horse-collar tackle that wasn't even close to being one. Wonnum pulled [Lamar] Jackson down by the back of his jersey for a 3-yard loss, stripping the ball on fourth-and-2, and linebacker Anthony Barr recovered.

Craig quoted FOX Sports' Dean Blandino, the former head of NFL officiating, who weighed in during the broadcast:

"The rule is specific. It's name plate or above. That's below."

What should have been Vikings ball instead remained with the Ravens, who kicked a field goal six plays later.

"It was a mistake," Kendricks said of the call. "But we had other opportunities to win."

Craig also commented on the Vikings "good and bad" of throwing past the sticks, after Minnesota failed to get anything down the field against the Cowboys in Week 8.

Finally! A week after [Kirk] Cousins threw nine third-down passes that traveled an average of 6.2 yards behind the first-down marker, he used perfect protection to launch his first third-down pass 34 yards past the sticks for the 50-yard TD to [Justin] Jefferson. The Vikings converted their first three third downs but then went 2-for-11. Cousins completed his first three third-down passes for 77 yards, two first downs and the touchdown. Jefferson had two catches for 57 yards.

"I think we changed up [the play-calling] quite a bit, especially early," Zimmer said.

Cousins' last eight third-down throws? Not so good, as Baltimore ramped up its pressure: 2-for-8 for 31 yards and one first down. Cousins threw behind or to the sticks five times. Twice he threw past the sticks to spots that had no targets anywhere near the ball.

ESPN highlights Vikings rookie production against Ravens

Following Sunday's slate of games, ESPN asked its beat reporters to recap each team’s performance.

Courtney Cronin looked at the 34-31 loss and posed the question, "Why aren't the Vikings playing their rookies more?" She wrote:

The Vikings started fourth-round safety Camryn Bynum in place of Harrison Smith after the five-time Pro Bowler was placed on the [Reserve/COVID-19] list moments before inactives came out. Bynum is still learning how to play the position after four years spent at cornerback in college, but he came away with a diving interception he returned 27 yards to set up the Vikings offense inside Baltimore's red zone late in the first half.

Fellow fourth-rounder Kene Nwangwu ignited Minnesota's special teams by returning the second-half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and picking up a first down on a fake punt. Minnesota could benefit from Nwangwu's speed and quickness on offense and needs to prioritize getting him touches moving forward.

Courtney also touched on the Vikings offensive performance as a whole, during which she didn't mince words.

[Head Coach] Mike Zimmer implored the Vikings offense to get the ball in the hands of its playmakers after an embarrassing loss to Dallas. That's exactly what Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak did in the first quarter with Kirk Cousins; 50-yard TD pass to Justin Jefferson, and 90 first-half rushing yards for Dalvin Cook. For the first time all season, Minnesota scored on its first two possessions. Then the offense predictably fell apart. Minnesota's defense was absolutely gassed by the time overtime rolled around, having been on the field for nearly 45 minutes, and it couldn't get a stop once the Ravens got the ball back. The same excuses the Vikings have used throughout the season to scapegoat their shortcomings are no longer valid. This is who they are. They have hit their ceiling.

Vikings receive 'C-minus' grade for loss to Ravens

Another week of games meant another week of grades from CBS Sports.

CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani evaluated the Vikings and Ravens Week 9 performances, and he gave Minnesota a "C-minus" for its outing. Dajani wrote:

This was a deflating loss for a Minnesota team that seems to have perfected the art of deflating losses. The Vikings were up 24-10 in the third quarter, and it felt like they were up even more than that at times. You expect your team to win games like these. Dalvin Cook was good, Kirk Cousins was fine, but the defense had too many lapses. This is a solid squad, but Sunday marked two bad losses in a row. Something needs to change for the Vikings.

And as for Baltimore? Dajani gave the AFC North team a "B."

It wasn't a perfect outing for the Ravens, but they got the win and that's what matters. Lamar Jackson and Co. came out looking like they had a major bye week hangover, but they were able to rebound in the second half with three straight touchdown drives. There are still questions when it comes to the defense and then of course overall consistency, but a win is a win.