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Vikings find a way to lose on Thanksgiving despite not, you know, playing

I just got done with my weekly appearance on KDLM Radio’s ‘The Sports Wrap’ in Detroit Lakes, which is the host of our new upcoming show ‘The purpleTERRITORY Variety Hour’ (Wednesday nights at 7pm!), and one of the topics the host of that show emailed me before the show was something I’d be mulling over since last night (but thought was just me being drunk on turkey and still sad about Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

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That the Vikings found a way to lose on Thanksgiving despite not playing a game. 

As I’m sure you all begrudgingly watched, the Dallas Cowboys had a game against the Washington Football Team Thursday. Dallas/Washington is one of the biggest rivalries in the league, and while any divisional game is hard to predict (thanks to the familiarity between the two teams), the fact that the Cowboys lost to the Alex Smith lead … Football Team was a further gut-punch for Vikings fans who already are spitting/“passing” blood thanks to Sunday’s outcome. 

It’s called a bloody palindrome, as it’s the same forward and backward and is totally based on the outcome of a football game and not a sign that I should go to the doctor. 

Washington (in)famously (depending on whether you’re wrong or right about Kirk Cousins) let Cousins walk after the 2017 and replaced him with Smith, who is the personification of a game managing quarterback. Somehow that offense, with running back Antonio Gibson, put up 41-points against the Cowboys. Gibson tied Randy Moss’ Thanksgiving record of three touchdowns, while proving that the Vikings should’ve been able to slow down the speed of the game with Dalvin Cook last Sunday. 

Cook did have 27 touches for 115 yards and a TD, but the Vikings ended up needing to air the ball out because unlike Washington, the Vikings’ defense couldn’t stop Andy Dalton and the Cowboys offense.

Also, Washington does have a great defense, especially when it comes to their pass defense (they lead the league in terms of pass yards allowed, are second for pass attempts against and third in pass completions). They’re also third in sacks, putting Dalton on the ground four times  vs. the Vikings single sack Sunday. 

But it was still hard to watch Thursday’s game and not feel even worse about Sunday’s game. Maybe had the Cowboys decimated Washington we could’ve felt like we caught them as they started to figure things out. Instead, the thought that the Vikings are at best a different team week-to-week became fact, and the outlook for the rest of 2020 got even more dim.

The through line for these Vikings losses has been whether or not they’ve been able to pressure the opposing quarterback. Since the bye, the combination of blitzes and ever changing two deep safety coverages (pre-to-post snap) seemed to be working for a Vikings team that needs to do everything possible to compensate for cornerback play that is a clear liability, again, up until Andy Dalton and the Cowboys. 

Let’s hope that that reality was more of a blip than the new normal, though, as they will at least have a chance if they can rattle the opposing QB.

Peep senior Vikings insider Nick Olson’s breakdown of the Bears game for a better explanation than I could give to support my own argument.

Perhaps if not for a blown coverage by Cameron Dantzler and a missed tackle by Chris Jones, we may be talking about a .500 Vikings team. Although, even though those plays felt like the most egregiously bad plays in a game full of them, the Vikings’ D couldn’t stop the Cowboys outside of that whether via their dinking and dunking or the penalties they incurred (especially in the first half). So, I tried to find a silver-lining.

As I said on KDLM this morning, a lot needed to go right for these Vikings, who made a lot of mistakes even during their recent three-game win-streak, to win. Between the penalties, kindergarten level corners (Zimmer’s description), and busted special teams plays, it was only a matter of time until those consistent blunders would be too much for Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offense to overcome.

If we learned anything on Thanksgiving, outside of how great it is to not force some uncle you loathe to drive from the 6th district to your home to eat food, get drunk and rant about COVID-masks, it’s that the 2020 Vikings just aren’t ready for prime time. 

At least they gave us some hope as of late. It was fun while it lasted, but like the same logic being applied to a Wild Turkey soaked bender, it was never really a sustainable situation moving forward and all you ended up with was a bad taste in your mouth and deep, existential regret. 

Found the silver lining!

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