Greg Joseph May Have Saved Mike Zimmer’s Job

Mike ZImmer
Sep 17, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer looks at his play chart against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We went into the half with a lead. At 13-6, the game was far from over, but the defense was playing well. The offense also found some success. Greg Joseph had hit two mid-range field goals, so Mike Zimmer must have been feeling encouraged by his kicker.

For some reason, our offense decided to play timid in the second half. We began with consecutive punts before Cousins threw his second interception of the season. To my relief, the turnover didn’t lead to any Detroit points. A couple possessions later, Joseph put us ahead 16-6. With less than 5 minutes left, the game looked like it was over. 10 points should be too much for these Lions to overcome on the road.

Our Vikings, as they always do, decided to make things interesting.

Joseph missed a 49-yarder. Detroit then moved the ball 39 yards in only 47 seconds. They kicked a field goal, bringing the lead down to a mere one score. I was certainly nervous with that 16-9 lead, but remained resolute in my belief that these are the Lions. Victory remained on the horizon.

An Alexander Mattison fumble made things even more interesting (which is a gentle way of saying incredibly terrifying and frustrating). Detroit promptly ran the ball into the end zone; Dan Campbell made a bold call by going for two.

It paid off.

Detroit took a 17-16 lead as the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium looked on, stunned by what had transpired. Were we really going to lose to the lowly Lions? Leading up to the game, we were all picking the Vikes. We know it’s a dangerous game to play; our Vikings don’t manage expectations well. Still, it’s the Lions. We should be able to play the game with 10 men on the field and still win.

With just over 30 seconds left, it looked like we were about to drop to 1-4.

Kirk has been pretty clutch all year. That didn’t change. Adam Thielen picked up 40 yards on two catches and Dede Westbrook snagged one for 6 yards. The end result was a 54 yard FG attempt with 3 seconds left:

Ask yourself: does Mike Zimmer keep his job if Greg Joseph misses that last second kick? Frankly, I don’t know that he does. One thing I do know is that the already vocal group of fans & writers who have been calling for his job would have grown increasingly dissatisfied. We may have needed to switch to Andre Patterson as the interim head coach, desperately clinging to a sliver of hope that we could overcome a 1-4 start. Our team is far, far too talented to be 1-4.

Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Joseph hit his kick. We won the game 19-17. Mike Zimmer will remain our coach, and Greg Joseph is largely responsible.