I Thought I was At Last Year’s Buffalo Game!
I thought I was at last year's Minnesota Vikings vs the Buffalo Bills game this past Sunday. A 20-0 Minnesota halftime deficit was NOT what anyone expected at US Bank Stadium against the Denver Broncos. My wife is a huge Broncos fan, so the rivalry was on when we went to the game this past Sunday. However, the Broncos are my AFC team of choice, so I knew that the Vikings shouldn't have any difficulty beating them...with the right game plan. Ok, that was the problem and as usual, the Vikings have the uncanny ability to play down to anyone! The Broncos are solid up front defensively and Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are stud linebackers who move laterally and fill against the run as good as any pair in the league. So, most of us fans expected Diggs and Rudolph to have monster games with the game plan using the pass to set up the run and the defense knocking their rookie QB on his butt or harassing him every play. Well, Zimmer is sure stubborn. Fortunately he figured it out at halftime and the defense which has been MIA lately stepped it up in the second half, even with a banged up secondary.
Tom Dierberger of Fox Sports North recapped Sunday's issues at safety for the Vikings...
Over his six-year tenure in Minnesota, head coach Mike Zimmer’s pride and joy has been his passing defense. One of the biggest strengths of that unit has been the play of safeties Harrison Smith and the rising Anthony Harris.
On Sunday in their comeback win over Denver, the Vikings had to do without both Smith and Harris. Harris endured a groin injury in practice during the week and was ruled out before the game. Smith suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and never returned.
Andrew Sendejo was released by Philadelphia in early November and brought back to Minnesota — his home from 2011-18 — on Nov. 6. The veteran safety sat out last week against Dallas but was there Sunday to start in Harris’s absence.
Sendejo played 74% of the defensive snaps against Denver. He was temporarily replaced in the first half by Jayron Kearse, only to return to the field and make the Vikings’ only positive play of the opening two quarters, picking off a pass from Denver quarterback Brandon Allen.
Kearse’s name would be called again later. When Smith left the game with injury, it was Kearse who took over for the four-time Pro Bowl safety. Kearse ended up playing 51% of the defensive snaps, but it was the final two of the game that made the biggest difference.
Minnesota was holding on to a four-point lead with 10 seconds left in the game and Denver inside the Vikings’ 5-yard line. In attempt to win the game, Allen targeted Noah Fant, the 6-foot-4, 249-pound tight end and first-round pick out of Iowa, on consecutive downs and both times in single coverage against Kearse.
Both times, Kearse came through.