The reviews of the Minnesota Vikings 16-10 win Sunday over the Kansas City Chiefs were mixed at best. Not all wins are things of beauty, except to the team that wins.
It didn’t matter how it happened. It mattered that it happened.
Simply stated, Sunday was a game that the Vikings would have lost pretty much every year since 2001. They didn’t lose it Sunday.
Imagine, if you will, that you could go back to noon Sunday and would be told certain inside information with the opportunity to bet on the game.
Everson Griffen, arguably the best Vikings’ defensive player, won’t be playing due to illness.
Adrian Peterson would have one of the worst games of his career – 26 carries for just 60 yards and one reception for minus-3 yards. Of those 26 carries, 14 would be for one yard, no gain or a loss of yardage.
Teddy Bridgewater would throw two interceptions and would have a passer rating of 65.1.
Throw in that the Vikings would be outgained by the Chiefs 277-128 in the second half.
Under any of those four scenarios, you could reasonably say, “I’ll take that bet.” Include all four and you could reasonably say, “Take every dollar out of my wallet and put it on the Chiefs.”
But, what happened?
The Vikings won and were never in true fear of losing the game.
In the recent history of the Vikings, that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, it’s almost never been the case. In the coaching regimes of Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier, you would need more than one set of hands to come up with the number of fourth-quarter leads lost by the Vikings. In 2013 alone, the Vikings had for numerous losses when they were ahead with one minute to play, much less 15.
The fact of the matter is that the Vikings had every opportunity to give the Chiefs a wheel-kick to the face early on Sunday. The defense was oppressive. Kansas City had 51 yards of offense on 20 plays. Considering that there were 25 yards lost by the Chiefs offense due to penalties, in 23 actual plays, the Chiefs gained 26 yards.
You don’t see that type of domination often in the NFL.
Both defenses did what they are, at their essence, required to do. Stop the run. The Vikings allowed the Chiefs just 57 rushing yards on 18 carries – an average of 3.2 yards per rush. Nobody had a rush of longer than 9 yards. With the exception of a 23-yard run by Adrian Peterson on his first carry of the second half, the Vikings ran 34 times for 61 yards.
The reality of the Vikings’ situation is that, in a game that included just two touchdowns, Kansas City got its TD with 8:46 to play. The Vikings had to answer offensively. They did.
The Vikings offense drove 53 yards on 10 plays, ate four minutes off the clock and kicked a field goal that forced the Chiefs to score a touchdown to beat them, not a field goal to tie the game and potentially send it to overtime.
Kansas City had the ball twice in the final 4:46 of the game. Rookie Danielle Hunter slapped a ball out of the grip of Chiefs running back Charcandrick West and Brian Robison pounced on it.
With no timeouts left, the Vikings ran twice and tried to throw for the throat-cut first down to milk the clock and end the game.
The Vikings defense, which had been riddled for yards in small chunks throughout the second half, forced the typically accurate Alex Smith into four straight incompletions when victory was attainable.
Call it an ugly win if you must. Blair Walsh scored more points (10) than the offense (6). He scored as many points as the Chiefs did as a team. He brought his “A” game.
So did a lot of other players.
It wasn’t artistic, but a win is a win is a win, no matter how you analyze it or apply metrics to it.
The Vikings are 3-2. Would you rather they be 2-3? They’re not.