5 Plays: Why the Vikings Lost to the Rams

The Vikings dropped to 1-2-1, as the team fell in Los Angeles, 38-31. Due to the pathetic effort by the defense, it felt like the team was down by 21 the whole game, but the game was much closer than it felt. Despite the defense’s best effort to lose this one, there were a multitude of plays that could have changed the script, as any play that led to a punt was crucial. Again, the goal of this is not to point out the obvious, but instead  the underrated plays that led to the scoring drives. Let’s get into them.

 

1- 1st Quarter, 7:01 – Brandin Cooks Converts on 3rd and 7

Score: 7-0 MIN

Field Position:  3rd and 7 at LAR 27

Result of Drive: Todd Gurley Touchdown

Synopsis: After the Vikings scored on the opening drive, the Rams found themselves in a quick third down situation. Jared Goff connected with Brandin Cooks to convert and kickstart the Rams opening drive.

Because of This Play:  This play set the tone for the Rams first drive. The Rams entered the game with the fewest amount of three-and-outs in the league, and the Vikings had a shot to get off the field early. The offense had just led a thirteen play drive to go up 7-0 and getting the ball back immediately would have given the Rams defense minimal rest. It was very early, but a stop here would have set the tone. Later in the drive, Xavier Rhodes extended it with a holding call and Todd Gurley ended up in the end zone to erase the Vikings impressive first drive.

 

2- 2nd Quarter, 15:00 – Adam Thielen TD That Wasn’t

Score: 7-7

Field Position: 1st and 10 at MIN 35

Result of Drive: Dan Bailey FG

Synopsis: On the first play of the second half, Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen down the right sidelines, who corralled the ball while falling to the ground. Thielen, who was never touched, proceeded to get up and run to the end zone. The officials called the play dead, claiming that he was touched down by Marcus Peters.

Because of This Play: An easy way to find an extra four points: a touchdown that was called off the board. This could have flipped the script of the game easily. McVay received a lot of praise in this game, which is well deserved because he torched us in the

thielen first half for four touchdowns on five drives. However, with that said, the Vikings offense was clicking just as much as the Rams. There’s the obvious butterfly effect to consider, but if the refs didn’t botch this call, the Vikings likely would have had three touchdowns on their first three drives.

 

3- 2nd Quarter, 6:57 – Dalvin Cook Runs for No Gain

Score: 17-14 MIN

 

Field Position: 1st and 10 at MIN 29

Result of Drive: Punt

Synopsis: After the Vikings defense got a seemingly impossible stop, the offense tried to get the run game going. Cook was stopped for no gain on the first play of the drive, setting the offense back and producing a three-and-out of their own.

Because of This Play: This was the one opportunity the Vikings had to take control of the game. They got the ball back up three points and called two conservative plays in a row.  It may not be the play calling I had an issue with, since I understand they need to establish the run, but just the overall inefficiency of the running game is disappointing. They gave the ball back on a three-play possession that lasted 1:20. The defense went back to its horrible self, and let up a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

 

4- 3rd Quarter, 8:42 – Adam Thielen Goes Into Concussion Protocol

Score: 28-20 LAR

Field Position: 2nd at 10 at LAR 46

Result of Drive: Punt

Synopsis: After McVay had his punter throw a 50-yard pass, the Vikings got their second stop of the game. They were driving down the field when an incomplete pass to Thielen resulted in him being taken off and put in concussion protocol.

Because of This Play: Thielen was fairly placed in the protocol, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t unfortunate. The Vikings had an important 3rd and 10 coming up with a chance to close the gap on the Rams. A conversion and they’re almost guaranteed points on the drive. With Thielen off the field, Cousins zeroed in on Diggs and missed him. No Thielen meant less options and allowed the Rams to double Diggs. The Vikings punted and went down 31-20 on the next drive.

 

5- 4th Quarter, 15:00 – Aaron Donald gets his sack

Score: 38-28 LAR

Field Position: 2nd and 8 at MIN 41

Result of Drive: Punt

Synopsis: On the first play of the 4th quarter, Aaron Donald busted through the line for his first sack, stalling the Vikings drive and forcing them to punt.

Because of This Play: Again, it felt like the Vikings were down big the whole game, but donaldsackthey entered the 4th quarter down ten with the ball in decent field position. Donald made sure to melt some of the time off the clock by sacking Cousins and ruining the drive. The Rams offense marched down the field (of course) and took an additional six minutes off the clock before Sam Ficken went Blair Walsh and missed a 28-yard field goal wide right. This sack was probably worth about seven minutes of game time and put the pressure on the team to score on their last two drives, something they couldn’t overcome.

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • 2nd Quarter, Rhodes Unsportsmanlike, off the field for Cooks TD, Rams up 21-17
    • Didn’t make it because: The defense wasn’t going to stop them anyways
  • 2nd Quarter, Elflein holding forces Vikings to punt while down 21-17
    • Didn’t make it because: Team was down, wanted to highlight the Cook runs when Vikes could have taken control
  • 2nd Quarter, failed time-out/spike debacle results in field goal
    • Didn’t make it because: had maybe only one shot at a touchdown
  • 3rd Quarter, Todd Gurley screen for 56 yards, flag picked up on illegal block in the back
    • Didn’t make it because: The defense wasn’t going to stop them anyways
  • 4th Quarter, Pass interference on Roc Thomas in the red zone, no call, Vikings kick a FG to make it 38-31
    • Didn’t make it because: Would the Vikings have scored a touchdown to make it 38-35? The Cousins fumble still happened out of FG Range, but the urgency of the drive would have been different. This was a big no call.

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