When the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer, they expected games like the one the team put in during a 16-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. On a day when Adrian Peterson couldn’t get untracked on the ground and Teddy Bridgewater threw a pair of bad interceptions that killed promising drives, the Vikings defense stepped up and made life miserable for the Chiefs offense.
They did it all – sacks, stuffing the run, getting turnovers, fourth-down stands. It was cause for feeling pretty good about themselves after the game.
“We made a plays, but we had a few mishaps out there that kept them in the ball game,” DE Brian Robison said. “We’ve got to clean up the things that we can get better at. We’re happy we came away with a win, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
One of the players who made the biggest impact was defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Late in third quarter with Kansas City driving, Floyd made consecutive stops on runs in which the Chiefs needed just one yard for the first down that could have potentially cut the Minnesota lead to 10-7.
Everybody knew what was coming and Kansas City was daring the Vikings to try to stop them.
They did – again and again and again.
“It’s all about the mindset,” Floyd said. “Coming into this game, we knew we had the talent to dominate them on the line. We always talk about shutting down the run and making the big plays when we need them. We were able to make a lot of those kinds of plays at big times of the game.”
Toward the end of the game, it had all the earmarks of the type of game the Vikings would lose during the Brad Childress/Leslie Frazier era. They have a lead for much of the game, only to see it fizzle in the fourth quarter.
While the Chiefs made a late charge, the Vikings were able to get the ball back to the offense and close out the win.
“They were making plays – they get paid too,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. “We tried to stop the bleeding. We got a couple of turnovers, stopped the bleeding and got away with the win.”
For most of the first three quarters, the Vikings dominated the Chiefs, giving them next to nothing offensively. The fourth quarter comeback proved too little too late, but something the Vikings will be looking to fix – shutting down an offense so completely they don’t have time for potential late heroics.
“We were dominating that game,” Munnerlyn said. “That is something we have to build on. We have to learn to finish. I don’t like finishing like that. They had the ball in their hand at the end of the game and still had a chance to win the game.”
Following the game, if you had seen the Vikings heading into their locker room and hadn’t seen the game, you might not have been able to tell if they had won or lost. There was no celebrating or tough talking going on. If anything, the players looked a little angry that they didn’t close out the game as strong as they started it.
That’s the way Mike Zimmer wants it. The Vikings are not satisfied with just winning games. They want to dominate. The team is no longer satisfied with winning close games and it that mindset working its way through the locker room.
“It’s huge,” Robison said of the aggressive defensive demeanor Zimmer has brought to the team. “Any time you get satisfied in this league, you get complacent and, when you get complacent, you have nowhere to go but down. We have to shoot to get better every single day and that’s why Zim pushes us so hard so we can keep reaching for our goals and get better.”
- The Vikings were without star defensive end Everson Griffen, who was inactive Sunday with an undisclosed illness. Griffen had practiced all week, but it wasn’t until this morning that it was clear Griffen wouldn’t play, giving rookie Danielle Hunter his first career start. Zimmer said Griffen should be fine and practice this week.
- The win puts the Vikings over the .500 mark for the first time since Week 1 of the 2014 season and just the second time since the end of the 2012 campaign.
- Sunday was the first Vikings win coming out of a bye since 2009.
- The Vikings have allowed their first five opponents to combine to score just three points in the first quarter.
- Prior to scoring on their ninth drive of the game, the Chiefs had scored just one offensive touchdown in their previous 29 drives and none in the 16 drives since Jamaal Charles was injured.
- The Vikings held the Chiefs to drives of six plays or less on seven of their 11 drives. The Vikings had four drives of nine plays or more.
- The Chiefs converted just three of 12 third-down plays, while the Vikings converted on six of 17 chances.
- After keeping Kansas City’s offense stymied much of the game, a couple of long drives late actually gave the Chiefs a small edge in yardage for the game (328-321).
- Adrian Peterson was bottled up the entire game by the Kansas City defense. He had 60 yards on 26 carries – 23 on one play and 37 on the other 25 carries combined.
- Jeremy Maclin has been as prolific as any wide receiver over the last three games, averaging 12 targets, nine catches and 125 yards. On Sunday, before leaving with concussion symptoms in the second half, he had just four targets, three receptions and 48 yards.
- Blair Walsh played a critical role in the win, making all three of his field goal attempts in the swirling winds of TCF Bank Stadium.
- Hunter recorded his first sack, getting a shared sack with Sharrif Floyd.
- The Vikings dominated the first half like few others this season. They ran almost twice as many plays as the Chiefs (39-20) and had almost four times as many yards (193-51).
- Peterson’s first run of the second half was his 23-yard burst. Prior to that, he had rushed 17 times for 16 yards.
- The Vikings dominated the first quarter even without a contribution from Peterson. The Vikings outgained the Chiefs 137-11, despite Peterson rushing nine times for minus-1 yard. Bridgewater and Diggs did most of the damage. Bridgewater completed six of 10 passes for 143 yards and Diggs caught four passes for 81 yards in the first quarter.
- The Vikings had a time-of-possession edge of 9:22 to 5:38 thanks to running 20 plays to Kansas City’s nine in the first quarter, quickly setting the tempo for the game.
- Alex Smith had just one yard passing in the first quarter.
- The Vikings had two first-and goal situations on their first two drives, but came away with just three points.
- The paid attendance was 52,480.