The “Pretty Good” Vikings Weren’t Good Enough on Sunday or in 2021

The Minnesota Vikings went into Week 16 desperately needing a win against a juggernaut Los Angeles Rams squad. Making things even more difficult, they headed into this game without star running back, Dalvin Cook, as well as co-defensive coordinator, Andre Patterson, both of whom were in Covid protocols.

The big headlines going into this game were with the Vikings wide receivers, though. Adam Thielen was set to return from his ankle injury while Justin Jefferson entered Sunday just 24 yards away from Odell Beckham Jr.’s record for most receiving yards through two NFL seasons. By the end of the game, Jefferson would amass 116 yards to break the record.

However, that’s really the only positive that can be taken away from this Vikings vs. Rams matchup. Minnesota fell 30-23 and really found themselves outplayed in almost every facet of the game. Sony Michel led the way for a Rams rushing attack that took control of this game, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown. LA needed this production out of their RB with Matthew Stafford’s struggles. The veteran QB threw three interceptions and had a few other throws that easily could have been picked off.

Unfortunately, the Vikings just couldn’t take advantage of these opportunities. Minnesota had four red zone drives, including two drives that started there, but they were only able to find the end zone once on these possessions.

A big reason for this lack of success on offense came from the Rams defense making the Vikings offense uncomfortable. The biggest catalyst for that would of course be the monster in the middle of the D-line, Aaron Donald. Donald brought consistent pressure on Kirk Cousins, but not only that, he also seemed to be involved in every single rushing play the Vikings ran. He finished the day with a sack and three tackles for loss.

Ultimately though, this is just the latest week where the Minnesota Vikings were “pretty good” but not good enough. It was the NFL-record tying 14th game this year decided by one possession for Minnesota, and once again, the purple and gold found themselves on the wrong side of the scoring.

While Minnesota (7-8) isn’t officially eliminated from playoff contention, this loss feels like the true dagger. Especially with the Eagles (8-7) running away with another win to take control of the seventh seed, Minnesota’s chances really rode on their ability to win games. The Vikings had flashes of great plays, but once again they didn’t do enough to get in the win column.