The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers 24-17 on Sunday Night Football to improve their record to 6-4-1. It felt like a playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium with both teams knowing how drastically their chances would drop at making the playoffs with a loss.
The Vikings were lead by Kirk Cousins who threw for 342 yards, three touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 129.5. Cousins was getting a lot of criticism after his struggles in Chicago last week, but he quickly bounced back in the biggest game of the season thus far.
Cousins was able to find his playmakers often Sunday night, with Adam Thielen leading the way with eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Thielen jumped Randy Moss in another category, making him the only Vikings receiver to ever have nine games in a season with over 100 yards receiving.
Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook also had a good night, with both of them finding the endzone and making defenders miss in space. Although he didn’t score, Kyle Rudolph also played a big role in Sunday’s game with seven catches for 63 yards.
This was one of the Vikings more complete games this season. The offense was clicking on all cylinders and the defense seemed to be in Aaron Rodgers head throughout the game sacking him four total times. Rodgers went 17/28 for 198 yards and one touchdown, and also missed a few throws to open receivers.
Sheldon Richardson sacked Rodgers twice and Everson Griffen and Tom Johnson brought him down one time each. The strong defensive line play has been huge for the Vikings, allowing them to drop more players into coverage because of the the amount of pressure the four defensive lineman are creating.
Harrison Smith made one of the biggest plays of the game, tackling Aaron Jones on a fourth down conversion. Smith made a beautiful tackle coming off the edge and stopping Jones in his tracks.
The one negative takeaway from this game is a problem that Vikings fans have feared for years. Dan Bailey missed his first two field goals of the game, an issue that the Vikings were all to familiar with in their first meeting with Green Bay. Bailey later connected on a 37-yard field goal, marking the first time the Vikings have made a field goal against the Packers this year.
The Vikings needed this game to keep their playoff hopes alive, and they relied on their starters to get the most important win of the season. They travel to New England next Sunday to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots and then go to Seattle the following week for a Monday night showdown with the Seahawks.
The Vikings upcoming schedule is not easy by any means, but after winning this game they should have some much needed confidence heading into the final five games in control of their own destiny.