These aren’t the Minnesota Vikings we are all accustomed to. This isn’t meant to be a grand overreaction to beating down the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-20 at US Bank Stadium on Sunday. No, that would be too easy. This is commentary on a prevailing theme the Vikings have shown all season.
Minnesota jumped to another big, early lead but the purple faithful have been groomed by years of heartbreak to doubt even the most certain of certainties. Vikings fans have seen this movie before, featuring inevitable letdown—we all know exactly how it ends. You could feel the shoe waiting to drop as the Eagles chipped away in the second quarter and here is precise moment when Vikings’ fans hit rock bottom:
Philly had cut the lead to seven, the Vikings promptly answered with a puke-worthy three-and-out and then Alshon Jeffery catches a big gain down the sideline. Ultimately, the Eagles cut the lead to 24-20 and Vikings fans were collectively mumbling, “here we go again.” Minnesota history tells us the Vikings were supposed to follow with another blunder offensively, allowing the Eagles to score 24 unanswered and take the lead on their way to a comeback, road win. This is where I was supposed to go berserk and totally loose my shit.
But mercifully, not this version of the Vikings. They decide to stop the bleeding and marched down the field, going 75 yards on nine plays, pushing the lead to 31-20 thanks to a 9-yard touchdown throw from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs. The defense rebounded, forcing a quick punt letting Cousins and the offense put the final touches on an impressive win. And the irony of the whole thing is even when things felt like they were about to totally slip away, the Vikings win probability was still over 70 percent (I’m not sure if that says more about the team or its fans).
What Minnesota has shown in wins and losses this season is the ability to overcome adversity. I know Vikings fans, it’s a concept difficult to grasp. But consider how teams of the past would’ve handled these situations:
Down 21-0 in Green Bay.
Team of old gets blown out. This year’s team fights back and has a legit chance to win at the end.
Down early in Chicago with no offense to speak of.
Team of old gets blown out. This year’s team relies on its defense and keeps things with in striking distance.
Wild trade speculation surrounds Stefon Diggs.
Team of old goes on the road and gets beat by an inferior Giants team. Distractions magnify and the whole things becomes a cluster. This year’s team comes out and has its best offensive showing of the season.
Up big against Philadelphia the Eagles storm back, making it a one-possession game.
Team of old gives up the lead and rips its fanbase hearts out. This year team roars back to life and answers every shot the Eagles take and run away with a victory.
The overall theme here is this group isn’t Vikings of old, quick to lay down at the first sign of things going wrong. Dalvin Cook said after the win last week in New York that the Diggs controversy “brought the team together.” Linval Joseph made similar remarks.
Credit Mike Zimmer and the coaching staff (who I don’t think gets enough credit in this area), credit the players or the front office, credit whoever you damn please but the feeling is palpable.
We’ve seen guys buying into the culture in Minnesota, willing to take less to be a part of this team. Quantifying culture and the effect it has on the field is tough, but watching this Vikings team constantly fighting and not shitting their pants when things go wrong is just plain ole’ Minnesota nice. It says something about the culture and that it is a very real thing the Vikings have in their corner.
General manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer might be shown the door if this season goes south. There are arguments to be made that they deserve to be fired if the Vikings fail to reach their goals. But if there is any argument to be made for the two men to retain their jobs its the culture they’ve created. This team has resiliency and toughness built into its DNA. That is the sign of good football team.
Things won’t always be as perfect or joyous as they were on Sunday, thrashing the Eagles. However, it is feels like there isn’t a lot this team can’t overcome.