The Minnesota Vikings won the biggest comeback in NFL history Saturday afternoon by beating the Indianapolis Colts home by a score 39-36.
This was one more point than the 32-point win by the Buffalo Bills over Houston Oilers during the 1992 AFC wildcard round. Frank Reich, a former Colts coach, orchestrated the comeback.
Although the second half was great and the NFC North win was a fantastic finish, the first was absolutely terrible. The Vikings didn’t do well in the first half, which was evident by the 33-0 deficit at the half. Who should take the blame for the poor performance? Let’s break it down.
Kirk Cousins – 10%
Dec 4, 2022, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings quarterback, reacts to the New York Jets game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker – USA TODAY Sports
Cousins has shown a remarkable ability to lead this team back from the sidelines on several occasions this season. This was not one. Cousins went robot mode at one point. He shrank into a corncob. He has done this several times before and it was again Sunday. For as much credit as we have given him this season, Cousins is playing like his old self and that’s not a good thing.
Dec 4, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA; Minnesota Vikings runningback Dalvin cook (4) celebrates scoring against the New York Jets during quarter two at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings runningback has a talent for throwing the ball out of bounds at the worst moments. This continued Saturday afternoon. The Vikings lost 10-0 and needed an extra spark. O’Connell dialed up a misdirection pitch that netted 40 yards. He fumbled the ball and the Colts converted it to a touchdown, making it 17-0.
Dec 17, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. Ed Donatell is seen looking on at the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator before their game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Of all the things going wrong for the Vikings against the Colts, the defense isn’t very high on the list. However, the promise of change on offense wasn’t there.
The promise of change that was essentially told to us pregame wasn’t there much at all. Consistent coverage of the zone and very few plays by man. Although there were some blitzes, Donatell seemed to be steadfast in his belief that the execution was poor and not play calling.
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on before the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
After having two losses where the Vikings basically got manhandled and were never in the game, you would think that O’Connell had figured out how to manage bad situations. Unfortunately, he hasn’t figured that out quite yet.
After the Vikings got down 17-0, O’Connell didn’t do much to help calm the tide except go for it on fourth down where they went 0-3 inside their own territory. I know that O’Connell is a first-year head coach and that there will be growing pains, but it’s incredibly disappointing to see a third embarrassing performance.
As is tradition for the ups and downs of a first-year head coach, O’Connell never gave up on the team and they found a way to win the game at the end.
Mark and Zygi Wif-50%
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings Zygi Wilf is on the field for Jared Allen’s Ring of Fame induction against the Arizona Cardinals in the XsecondXX quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports
The Vikings had an opportunity to rebuild their team this offseason. Things weren’t in the best place at the end of the Mike Zimmer era in terms of both overall talent and the salary cap. The directive was given to new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah that the Vikings weren’t allowed to take a step back at quarterback. This directive was the catalyst to approach this as a competition rebuild, rather than taking it apart and starting from scratch.
It was unwilling to let go of a core team that has had multiple of these losses over the past eight seasons. It wasn’t just the coaching staff, this group has clunkers like this in them and ownership was too afraid to rock the boat and make things better.
They came up with the solution.
Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell reacts before an NFL International Series game against the New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
It was a rollercoaster ride. The first half was so terrible that it inspired this piece. Is it possible to overreact? Absolutely, but overreaction is always rooted in reality so it’s important to explore the why behind everything.
The Vikings were able to pull it off and see them succeed. The second half was a totally different team, and it should be commended.