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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Reviews Film from Vikings Victory Against Jets

With their 27-22 victory Sunday against the New York Jets, the Vikings joined the Philadelphia Eagles as the only NFL teams this season with at least 10 victories.

But when it comes to thrilling, down-to-the-wire finishes, Minnesota seems to be in a class by itself.

Nine of the Vikings 10 wins this season have come by a one-score margin, which is an NFL record. As Minnesota approaches its final five regular-season games, the underlying question remains:

Can the Vikings keep this up?

Alec Lewis of The Athletic recently broke down the film of Minnesota's victory over the Jets and found a few key takeaways.

The first area Lewis reviewed was the continued struggles of the Vikings defense against the pass. Minnesota currently ranks 31st in the NFL in team defense and last in opponent passing yards per game (283.6). Lewis wrote:

The Vikings are allowing an average of 8.01 passing yards per opponent pass attempt, the most in the NFL.

"I think you have to continue to look at it," Head Coach Kevin O'Connell said. "Because it puts so much pressure on your football team."

Against the Jets Sunday, the Vikings allowed 486 yards of total offense, including 369 through the air.

In the second half, [the Jets] converted four passes between the hashes in space. Two came on play-action passes, opening the door to the middle of the field behind the defense's second level. The other two occurred on in-breaking routes, where catchable areas existed due to a Vikings blitz.

Lewis said Minnesota has given up 10.33 yards per play on average on passes thrown between the hash marks this season.

Yards after the catch (YAC) have also been a problem for the Vikings pass defense. Minnesota has allowed an average YAC of 5.71 yards per reception this season, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Against the Jets, New York receivers averaged a YAC of 7.0 with each catch.

"We want to play better," Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell said. "I think that keeping yards down is always the best measure."

Lewis noted while the possible return of cornerback Cameron Dantzler, Sr., this weekend could help shore up those numbers, trying to simplify the Vikings coverage and continuing to improve the pass rush could work as well.

Another takeaway from Sunday, Lewis wrote, was O'Connell utilizing strategic play calling, particularly on one play.

It was the first quarter, and the game was tied 3-3. The Vikings had the ball. They had punted on the previous possession. Now, they faced a fourth-and-2 on the Jets 49-yard line.

O'Connell did not hesitate. He motioned for the offense to remain on the field.

The Vikings capitalized, as quarterback Kirk Cousins connected with wide receiver K.J. Osborn for the first down. A few plays later, running back Dalvin Cook found the end zone on a 4-yard run.

"I think that was a real moment to grab some of the momentum in the game," O'Connell said. "I'm always going to treat each situation as its own. Sometimes, it is a feel thing based upon where we're at in the game, how the other three phases are competing and ultimately where I think we can take that drive with a new set of downs."

Lewis compared O'Connell's play calling to being in control of an airplane.

In the analogy, the weather and the destination are akin to the opposing team, and during the flight, O'Connell has options. If the Vikings generate an early lead, O'Connell can pull certain play-calling levers to mitigate risk. Or, conversely, if the Vikings defense is struggling to contain the opposing offense like it was Sunday, O'Connell has buttons to push to ensure the offense stays in the air for longer.

O'Connell has expressed frequently that he feels he can improve his game management, which makes sense. The more time spent in the air, the more seamless the flight.

Former Viking Randy Moss lauds WR Justin Jefferson on Monday Night Football's 'ManningCast'

Randy Moss is widely considered to be one of the greatest Vikings receivers ever.

He also has a lot to say about the receivers in today's game, especially one who is wearing the same jersey that Moss wore for eight seasons in two different stints.

Moss joined Peyton and Eli Manning for ESPN2's "Manningcast" during the second quarter of Monday Night Football's game between Tampa Bay and New Orleans. When he was asked about the play of Justin Jefferson this season, Moss said he's "hands down" one of the best receivers in the game today.

Moss added he predicted another breakout year for Jefferson after seeing Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp win the receiving Triple Crown last season under O'Connell, who was hired by Minnesota in February.

"I just thought Justin really had a chance to do something special this season," Moss said. "Getting a guy like Kevin with the success that [Kupp] was able to have last year."

Jefferson currently ranks third in receptions (88), second in receiving yards (1,277) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (six). He also broke Moss' record of most receiving yards in a player's first three NFL seasons (4,163) at 4,293 yards with five regular-season games to go.