Written by Rance Gardner
The Vikings have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been on the receiving end of brutal criticism by both fans and journalists. Stefon Diggs has been clearly unhappy with his role in this new offense and that has led to trade rumors for 2 weeks now. It's never fun to call a week 5 game a must win, but that's precisely what today was. And thankfully the Vikings were able to focus all week and put a great game plan together.
Cousins was able to suppress the criticism today and performed well. By far his best game of the season. The Vikings made clear adjustments to the offense that allowed for more passes of 10+ yards. Dalvin Cook's touches were not sacrificed as he added 86 yards receiving and had the most yards from scrimmage in his career. When Dalvin Cook is healthy he has performed like a top 3 running back. Adam Thielen added over 100 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. The offense moved the ball well and had long drives all day. Everyone assumed the Vikings would feature Diggs heavily including the Giants. The Vikings instead found Adam Thielen early and often. Not to say Diggs didn't make an impact because he did and all his catches were important for drives. Another bright spot was a strong game for rookie WR Bisi Johnson. He looks like he is running away with the Vikings battle for WR 3 reps.
The defense's bend but don't break tendencies were on full display. The red zone defense was outstanding. The Giants were in scoring position multiple times and the Vikings stout defense thwarted their attempts. Other than one play where Xavier Rhodes was beaten in coverage, the Vikings were able to stifle the Giants when they were in scoring position. Mike Hughes looks better and better in coverage every game. Linebacker Anthony Barr played what I thought was his best game of the season. He was all over the field making plays behind the line of scrimmage and in coverage forcing turnovers. The Vikings defensive line behind the efforts of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter put pressure on Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones. Jones was able to make a few solid plays with this legs, but the Vikings held the New York offense in check for the most part.
The Vikings left New York with a much needed win and some momentum heading into a big home game against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 6. Hopefully the Vikings can stay out of the headlines this week and focus on getting ready for a big midseason push towards the playoffs. The pieces are there to compete with every team in the NFL. If the Vikings can stay healthy and continue to grow in a new offensive system they will have a great chance to make the playoffs. Stefon Diggs if you're reading this, we still love you. Go on your QBs podcast, it seems to help.