After giving up numerous big plays to the Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and RB Damien Williams in a loss at Kansas City, the Vikings defense followed by allowing eight pass plays of twenty or more yards against Dallas. Last Sunday? A solid number more to the 28th-ranked Denver Broncos’ offense.
Yes, the play came back on an illegal formation penalty on the Denver offense, but the stage was already set in this match–or mismatch if you will.
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At 6:25 of the first quarter, Sutton beat Rhodes in the same place as he started the game for a 48-yard gain. About a minute later, Sutton again beat Rhodes deep left, causing the veteran corner to dive at the Bronco receiver as he approached the Vikings red zone and be called for pass interference.
A few plays later, the Broncos’ scored their first touchdown of the game, making it 10-0, Denver.
Out of the quarter, yet?
At the end of that drive, it was 17-0 Denver.
Mike Zimmer did indeed go to work on this obvious epidemic of big plays against his defense at halftime, but the damage had been done. His team was down 20-0 to a football team that wasn’t even supposed to be in this contest.
Did he stop the bleeding? Yes, but there were still a few more cuts coming, and they continued to be crucial to Bronco drives that kept them accruing first downs and eating game clock in the flurry of a mounting Viking comeback.
- 3rd Q (5:58): Brandon Allen pass deep left to Tim Patrick to Vikings 24 for 29 yards over Mike Hughes–lead to FG to make game 23-13, Denver.
- 4th Q (10:17): Allen pass deep middle to Courtland Sutton to Vikings 32 for 43 yards over Xavier Rhodes–lead to FG attempt (missed from 43 yards) that would have made game 26-20.
At the very end–despite great excitement to countless central nervous systems in US Bank Stadium–the Vikings prevailed. And they did so with some indispensable efforts by their defensive secondary. But in a passing league, how does Mike Zimmer plan on stopping the vertical offenses of teams like New Orleans, San Francisco and Green Bay in the playoffs if they can’t keep a bottle on a guy like Marvin Jones Jr. in Detroit?
The 2019 Viking defense has now slipped to a 19th rank in passing yards allowed. They are 27th in passing touchdowns allowed.
Last season they were third and first in both respective columns. In 2017, they were second and first. They are allowing 244 yards a game passing this season after allowing 196 and 192 in 2018 and 2017.
Is this a big problem? Yes. And its root is in big plays. The type of plays that keeps a team out of the playoffs, or sends them home once they get there.