The Minnesota Vikings will be looking to make an impressive statement as past of the only NFL game being played on Monday night when they hook up with the New York Giants, a 2-1 team looking to makes its own statement.
But what the Giants are coming up against is a Vikings defense that has strung together a streak of games of defensive domination that rivals anything the Purple People Eaters put together during their impressive decade-long run of dominance over the NFC Central Division.
Going back to last season, the Vikings were 8-5 and in a position to either sink or swim in the playoff race. They were viewed a 50/50 playoff hopeful, much less a division champion.
Then the wins started coming.
In Week 15 of the 2015 season, the Vikings dismantled the Chicago Bears. They took a 17-7 lead to halftime and more than doubled that in the second half, winning 38-17. The defense did its job, but Teddy Bridgewater was the star – throwing four touchdowns and running in another. With the Vikings at 9-5 and Green Bay at 10-4 with a win in hand, the Vikings needed to win in Week 16 to make the regular-season finale a winner-take-all affair.
By the time the Vikings and Giants met, it was already a given that the Week 17 game with Green Bay would be for the NFC North title. The Packers had been crushed 38-8 by Arizona. In terms of the playoffs, the Vikings were in with a win, but, if they beat Green Bay in Week 17, they were the division champs.
The first three times the Vikings offense had the ball, they punted. The next 10 times they had the ball, they scored on nine of those possessions – rolling to a 49-17 win that saw Eli Manning pulled from the game.
The Vikings offense had put them in position to make the playoffs. Ever since, the defense has taken over.
In the Week 17 finale at venerable Lambeau Field, the defenses were on display. The game went to halftime with the Vikings leading 6-3 and true separation didn’t happen until less than five remained in the third quarter, when Captain Munnerlyn scooped up a fumble and raced 66 yards to give the Vikings a 20-3 lead that turned into a 20-13 win.
The playoff game with Seattle is remembered for the Blair Walsh botch that lost the game, but many forget that, heading into the fourth quarter at frigid TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings led 9-0 thanks to three Walsh field goals. In the fourth quarter, the Vikings punted with 2:24 remaining, convinced their defense could get the needed three-and-out. It did, but history will remember a 10-9 loss.
Fast forward to this season.
Trailing 10-0 at halftime, the Vikings defense scored two touchdowns as part of a 25-0 run that blew the game open – a touchdown by DeMarco Murray with 28 seconds left made the final a not-indicative-of-the-dominance 25-16 score.
The U.S. Bank Stadium home opener against Green Bay was another display of the Vikings defense, which opened a 17-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter and held off the Packers late by attacking Rodgers for a 17-14 win.
At Carolina last week, the Panthers scored twice in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead. The Vikings scored the final 22 points and walked away with a convincing win.
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The reality of the NFL is that you’re only as good as your next game. But the last seven games the Vikings have played are arguably the best string of games that have been compiled in decades of franchise history.
If the Giants roll the Vikings tomorrow night, the bandwagon jumpers will be requesting said bandwagon to slow down so they don’t risk getting crushed by the rear wheels when they jump off and, as expected, crumple as the weak tend to do.
For those who Viking-clap at home, check out the post-bye week schedule. Try to pick the games that you think the Vikings will lose. It won’t be easy to find too many.
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The last seven games in the Vikings recent history say they should have won all seven, not six and a long offseason.
The Giants are the eighth team to catch the current wave of the tides on the Vikings ship. They’re the first one to get a second taste. If they take a road beating in front of 30 other NFL teams watching, the Vikings’ Magnificent Seven turns into the Hateful Eight.
If that happens, sound your Gjallarhorn app and toss away the popcorn.