Monthly Archives: November 2020

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MINNEAPOLIS — What is it about NFL underdogs recording their first career touchdowns as Vikings against the Panthers?

Nearly six years to the day that Cheap Adam Thielen Jersey blocked a punt and returned it 30 yards for his first career touchdown, Chad Beebe recorded his first career score on a 10-yard pass from Cheap Kirk Cousins Jersey with 46 seconds left on the clock.

Beebe’s catch tied the game and was followed by Cheap Dan Bailey Jersey extra point that gave Minnesota a 28-27 comeback victory over Carolina on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

An undrafted free agent who joined the Vikings in 2018, Beebe came through in the clutch against the Panthers squad that his father, Don, had played for as a free agent during Carolina’s inaugural season.

Thielen, now an All-Pro and Pro Bowl receiver for the Vikings, was watching from home after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. His wife Caitlin captured video of Thielen going bananas on behalf of his teammates.

Adam Thielen Goes Crazy — From Home — As Cheap Chad Beebe Jersey Scores The Winning Touchdown
Vikings Defense Makes Critical Late Stops of Panthers
Kirk Cousins Delivers in Clutch in Comeback Over Panthers
Game Highlights: Vikings 28, Panthers 27
5 Takeaways: Vikings Complete Furious Rally vs. Panthers
Pre-game question: How would the Vikings compensate for missing Thielen, who entered Week 12 atop the NFL leaderboard with 11 touchdown catches?

In-game action:

The global answer is by committee with an extremely rare level of distribution.

Four Vikings players recorded seven receptions, and each of the four players had more than 60 yards through the air.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, that was just the second time in NFL history for a team to have four players with seven or more catches and at least 60 yards apiece, joining New Orleans on Dec. 23, 2012.

Cheap Bisi Johnson Jersey delivered career highs of seven catches and 74 yards, and rookie Cheap Justin Jefferson Jersey added 70 yards and scored twice on his seven receptions. Tight end Cheap Kyle Rudolph Jersey added season bests of seven catches and 68 yards, and Beebe finished with 63 yards on seven catches.

Full Highlights: Vikings 28, Panthers 27
Kirk Cousins didn’t just lock in on one target. Instead, he read the defense and delivered the footballs with an Olympic archer’s accuracy during Minnesota’s final two possessions of the game.

Cousins was 12-of-13 passing for 136 yards and two scores, with the only incompletion occurring on a good decision to live to another play, on his last two drives.

Jefferson provided a pair of great routes in the red zone for Minnesota’s first two touchdowns, and Beebe won his matchup to make up for a punt he had muffed moments earlier.

The Vikings defense only allowed a field goal after the Panthers got the ball at the Minnesota 9-yard line, enabling the late-game heroics.

Zimmer: We Fought Like Crazy and Need To Continue To Do That

Postgame reaction:

“That’s why they’re called teammates. There were times even in the course of the game, after they scored those two touchdowns, guys were going up and down the field saying, ‘Hey, we’re 10 points down. Let’s go. It’s not a big deal. We can overcome this.’ We continue to fight, continue to fight, and things continue to get better for us. Typically, when you fight your rear end off, things usually get better.”

— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Cousins: A Lot of Guys Showed Up Today and Made Big Plays
“Great job versus Cover 0, the first touchdown just went inside across his defender’s face, and then the second one, again, is just trying to be patient with him and let him run his route, and he did a great job finishing the play, because linebackers there, they’re coming, and I’ve seen those throws caught, and he’s out at the 1-yard line, and he fought for the front pylon and got us in, and that’s just a great play by him. Other than that, I thought the Panthers’ defense did a really good job of kind of taking away a lot of the opportunities we were trying to give him, whether it was double teams or a soft corner or a safety over the top, and you could tell they were aware of where he was and trying to kind of make it hard to get him the football, especially if it was going to be down the field.”

— Cousins on Jefferson

“He kept flashing and showing that he was such a great player. Yet, a combination of factors were kind of preventing him from getting more opportunities, so I was really encouraged by the last few weeks of him getting out there and being able to make some more plays for us, and then today, to have the game-winning touchdown and make so many plays. He had a big play on a third down early in the game when we were backed up. He’s a great player. He showed it today, and he’s one of those guys where if we give him opportunities, he’s going to make plays, but we’ll see week to week what we have as far as personnel and how we want to attack teams.”

— Cousins on Beebe

Beebe Talks About Bouncing Back From The Muffed Punt With The Game-Winning TD
“Obviously we missed Adam a lot. But we did a lot of growing up today, which was awesome to see. It’ll be exciting going forward when we get Adam back. I feel like our group got a lot better today, and there’s a lot of exciting things ahead.”

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Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email. The questions below have been edited for clarity.

You can also send Eric a Mailbag question via Twitter.

Let’s talk Cheap Kirk Cousins Jersey. Distributed the ball, getting even production in catches and yards from multiple targets. Used his legs to extend drives. Hated the fumble, but no question he was the better QB on Sunday. He has been playing extremely well overall lately.

— Jeff Kilty in Sacramento, California

We’ll start this Mailbag with the starting quarterback, who had a great outing in Sunday’s win. He completed 34 of 45 passes for 307 yards with three scores and no interceptions. He had a passer rating of 115.7, his fourth straight game above 100.

He absolutely was money down the stretch for the Vikings, completing 12 of 13 passes for 136 yards with two scores on the final two drives.

There was a lot of talk about Cheap Teddy Bridgewater Jersey return to Minnesota this week, and rightfully so. But on Sunday, Cousins proved why the Vikings signed him back in 2018 and handed out a contract extension this offseason.

Yes, the fumble was a trouble spot as it was his second lost fumble in as many games. But he was blitzed on the play and didn’t have much time to react. And the way he responded late was incredible.

Cousins had plenty of help — more on that in a second — but he played and delivered like a franchise quarterback in the final 10 minutes against the Panthers.

And with no Cheap Adam Thielen Jersey, perhaps his best attribute was simply spreading the ball around. Cheap Bisi Johnson Jersey (74 yards), Cheap Justin Jefferson Jersey (70 yards and 2 TDs), Cheap Kyle Rudolph Jersey (68 yards) and Cheap Chad Beebe Jersey (63 yards and a score) each had seven catches on Sunday.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, that was just the second time in NFL history for a team to have four players with seven or more catches and at least 60 yards apiece, joining New Orleans on Dec. 23, 2012.

Cousins has gotten hot just when the Vikings have needed it most, as Minnesota won four of five games in November. The quarterback was red-hot in that month, completing 105 of 145 passes (72.4 percent) for 1,293 yards with 12 touchdowns and just one interception (that bounced off Thielen’s hands in Chicago).

We’ll see how the final five games play out for the Vikings — and we’ll get into playoff possibilities here shortly — but if Cousins keeps this up, perhaps Minnesota can make some noise down the stretch.

On any given Sunday! Two fumble returns allowed for touchdowns on offense … no quit. A muffed punt return … the defense held Carolina to a FG. Chad Beebe shook off that fumble with a TD grab. They could have quit but they fought on. This will help them moving forward.

— Gerald Goblirsch

Fire Zimmer. Trade Cousins.

— Terry Joyce

I included Terry’s email, which came through during Sunday’s dismal third quarter, because it highlights what a wild and weird season this has been for the Vikings.

Frame-by-Frame: Chad Beebe’s First Career Touchdown
View photo of Vikings WR Chad Beebe’s first career touchdown against the Panthers in Week 12.

To recap, the Vikings start 1-5, and everyone writes them off. Then comes a three-game win streak and praise from the national pundits about being back on track.

Then, a bitter loss to Dallas where Minnesota’s playoff hopes take a big hit again. But wait, a furious comeback win over the Panthers to keep the season alive and stay within one game of the NFC Wild Card race.

Game Photos: Vikings vs. Panthers
View game images as the Vikings take on the Carolina Panthers at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

I covered this back in the Mailbag in September, when things were trending downward, but you always know that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his team are going to fight to the end. Zimmer is a gritty, old-school coach who hates to lose.

There’s a few reasons why seven of Minnesota’s 11 games have been decided by one score or less. The first is that the competitive balance feels as narrow as ever in the league, but the second is that Zimmer’s squad is always going to battle until the final seconds … much like we saw Sunday.

So, where does it leave us with five games to go?

With the Vikings at 5-6, they are currently in eighth place and one game behind the 6-5 Cardinals, who have lost three of four.

Minnesota’s main focus now is on a 1-10 Jacksonville team, while also rooting for Arizona to lose against the Los Angeles Rams next weekend.

If the Vikings can be 6-6 with four games to go, that sets up a potentially impactful final month of the season.

“Each week is week to week,” Zimmer said after Sunday’s win. “We’ve still got a lot of football left to play, still got a lot of good teams.

“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and how we approach each week, how we have to do the things that we have to do and eliminate the mistakes that we made today,” Zimmer added. “We made too many mistakes and we’re very fortunate to win. ”

Absolutely happy about the win today. It’s all about play calling all season long on if we win or lose. As we saw in the fourth quarter, it is possible to win games, if we don’t stick too much to the running game. Although Cheap Dalvin Cook Jersey is marvelous, to be committed to the run makes us predictable. We saw this in all the games we lost and over a long time in this game.

In my opinion, we don’t need other players, except maybe some more improvement along the offensive line to go to the Super Bowl. We just need better play calling for the offense to surprise the opponent. To vary with passes at first or second down more often, gives room for the run.

I know Gary Kubiak is well-respected and his experience is huge. But do you maybe agree that he should think about the last quarter and modify his run-first attitude a little bit, and add some creativity? Thank you for answering all these questions with great patience. I like to read your comments … it’s one of the main reasons I’m visiting the Vikings website regularly.

— Matthias from Bad Schwalbach, Germany

Lots to get to in Matthias’ email, but I’ll start with his question about Kubiak’s run-first mentality. While that is Kubiak’s mindset, it’s also Zimmer’s, and a big reason why the Vikings have a penchant for running the ball most of the game. It also helps to have Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

With that said, the Vikings had to flip the script in the fourth quarter. On the final two touchdown drives, Minnesota called 18 total plays, one of which was a weird sack where Cousins tripped after having his foot stepped on by a teammate.

The other 17 plays included just four run plays. So while the Vikings seemed to abandon their run-first approach, it was because they had to. Minnesota would much rather prefer to get an early lead and control the ball and the clock on the ground.

If you ask me, Kubiak has done a good job this year. He’s relied on Cook a bit, but has also gotten Thielen and Jefferson involved plenty. It’s a tough job, no doubt, to feed perhaps the league’s best running back, while also spreading the ball around to those wide receivers, plus Rudolph and Irv Smith, Jr., when he’s healthy.

If you want to nitpick play calling, however, perhaps Carolina’s fourth-quarter selection bears mentioning. The Panthers had the lead for all but the final 46 seconds of the quarter and ran 18 plays before their final drive, which obviously required all passes. But on those first 18 plays of the fourth quarter, there were a whopping 14 pass plays.

As Zimmer said above, the Vikings were fortunate to win, and the Panthers late play calls likely had a small part in that.

But you take the wins however you can get them in the NFL, and Minnesota will do just that.

On to Jacksonville.

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For the most part, fans and writers alike have overlooked Jalyn Holmes‘ strong performance on Sunday. Minnesota’s defense played poorly overall, so it’s easy to forget that they had several players who performed admirably. Cheap Jalyn Holmes Jersey was one of these players, consistently putting the Minnesota Vikings in favorable positions by playing good run defense.

Minnesota Vikings DE Jalyn Holmes
The Vikings chose Holmes 102nd overall in the 2018 draft with the intention of putting him at 3 technique. At 6’5, 283, Holmes certainly has the length and size that teams desire in their defensive linemen. The transition to 3T, though, was largely unsuccessful. Through his first two years in the NFL, Holmes struggled to get onto the field.

In 2020, Holmes made the switch to defensive end and is quietly putting forward a solid season. His upside as a pass rusher is limited, but he is strong against the run. Pro Football Focus rates Holmes as the 29th best DE in run defense. Holmes did a really nice job of limiting the run against Dallas. Pro Football Reference credits him with six tackles. He also had a couple QB pressures and a pass deflection.

When you re-watch the Dallas game, one of the things you’ll notice is Holmes’ power. He consistently gets good separation between himself and the offensive lineman; he has powerful hands that allow him to knock the offensive lineman back. This is an attribute that lends itself well to run defense because it allows the defensive lineman to read and react.

In the above clip, you’ll see Ezekiel Elliott with a strong run. Keep an eye on the right side, though. Zeke is supposed to run to the right, but Holmes shuts down his gap. Zeke has great patience as he waits for Cheap Eric Wilson Jersey to over pursue, but that shouldn’t hide the fact that Holmes won his rep on this play; Holmes put his teammates in a favorable position, but they let him down.

Late in the game, Holmes got a pass deflection on a critical third down. The Vikings were up 28-24 with around 6:25 left in the fourth quarter. Dallas faced a 3rd & 10, an obvious passing situation, so Mike Zimmer decided to overload the left side of his d-line. Zimmer put Holmes, Hercules Mata’afa, and Cheap D.J. Wonnum Jersey on the same side, with Holmes as the inside man. Zimmer’s goal was to overwhelm the protection, and it was a strategy that worked. Holmes — in tandem with Mata’afa and Wonnum — collapsed the pocket. When Andy Dalton tried to throw, Holmes was able to get his arm up for the pass deflection. Dallas was forced to punt.

On Dallas’ final drive — the one where they took the lead — Holmes consistently put the Vikings in a position to succeed. He held Tony Pollard to a modest gain, forcing the 4th & 6 that would eventually result in a completion to Amari Cooper. At the goal line, Holmes stopped Zeke from getting in on second down. On third down, unfortunately, the Vikings decided to let Dalton Schultz run free.

Jalyn Holmes could end up being a critical piece of the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive line in the future. One could easily envision Holmes becoming a key part of a defensive line rotation, especially if the Vikings have a star edge rusher who struggles in run defense. In this situation, Holmes may end up being a great complement to Zimmer’s defense.