Minneapolis Madness: Have the Vikings restored faith for their fans?

When it comes to the Minnesota Vikings, it’s a tale of a two-sided coin.
Flip a coin. Heads.
A 39-yard missed field goal by Gary Anderson in 1998, and a 27-yard missed field goal by Blair Walsh in 2016 for a chance to move on in the playoffs. In 2010, Brett Favre threw a pick and gave the Saints a game-winning field goal.
Four years after Favre, Joe Webb starts and struggles against the Green Packers, throwing 11-30 for 180 with a pick and a touchdown (espn.com). In 2019, the Minneapolis Meltdown was against the Eagles. Despair, doom, and heartbreak.
Flip a coin. Tails.
In 2012, Adrian Peterson was seven yards shy of breaking the all-time rushing record for a running back with 2,097 compared to Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 (footballdb.com). In 2019, the Minneapolis Miracle where Stefon Diggs brought the US Bank Stadium and fans at home to its feet with a game-winning touchdown. In 2022, Kirk Cousins passed Daunte Culpepper to move to third all-time in touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings (vikings.com). Celebration, success, and promise.
Another thing Cousins might surpass Culpepper in is being the first Vikings quarterback since Fran Tarkenton to get them to the Super Bowl. Let’s stop right there and back up a minute.
The Vikings are 7-1 for the best start through eight games in the franchise since 2009 and on a six-game winning streak. Their only loss is to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (8-0). Minnesota’s next game is on the road against the Buffalo Bills (6-2), the no. 1 ranked offense in yards/game (espn.com). However, their starting quarterback Josh Allen is dealing with an elbow injury (Boston Globe), and his status is questionable. This developing news story will affect the way Minnesota approaches the game.
The Vikings could continue their struggle against another dual-threat quarterback or face Case Keenum, a pocket passer. How the Vikings fend off Allen or Keenum is something to watch.
So, the Vikes are 7-1, have the second-best record in the league under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, and all signs could point toward an NFC championship rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles. How exactly did we get here, and is there hope, and should fans be legitimately fired up?
They say offense wins tickets, defense wins championships, and coaches lead by results.
Kirk Cousins is one yard shy of 2,000 yards through eight games and has 13 touchdowns and a 64.8% completion percentage. Cousins has plenty of options through the air. Justin Jefferson, the 22nd pick from LSU, leads the team in receiving yards with 867, also second in the league. Jefferson is also fifth with 59 receptions (nfl.com). Alongside Jefferson is Adam Thielen, a division II wide receiver from Mankato State University. Thielen has 418 yards and looms in the shadows for the ball as defenders guard Jefferson. The Vikings also signed T.J Hockenson, former Detroit Lions tight end. In his first game as a Viking, Hockenson led the team with nine catches and recorded 90 yards. It looked as if his new gloves fit well as he hit the field against the Washington Commanders.
In the running game, Dalvin Cook has over 40 yards, ten carries in every win this year, and five touchdowns for 608 yards. Alexander Mattison contributed two touchdowns as well. With this talent and a relatively new stadium, you can hear the “SKOL” chants from blocks away.
From offense to defense, the Vikings are tied fourth in fumbles (six) and interceptions (eight) while tied fifth for overall takeaways at 14. Safety Harrison Smith has half the team’s interceptions, and linebacker Jordan Hicks leads the team with 74 tackles. This defense not only creates opportunities for the offense to score but also prevents opponents from taking the lead late.
Another stat for Minnesota sports fans is the Vikings are 6-0 in one-possession games this year, compared to 6-8 last year, and haven’t lost at home either. Whether they continue this momentum remains to be seen as they face the Cowboys, Patriots, and Jets in their next three games.
Speaking of momentum, the Vikings are 3-0 in the NFC North. Beginning the year with a 23-7 victory against the Packers, then closing out tight games with the Bears and Lions. They command the division and come ready to navigate the waters to a win against whomever they face. Where does this mentality stem from?
Head coach Kevin O’Connell is bringing life to the purple and gold. With only eight games under his belt, it’s hard to compare his performance with previous coaches. O’Connell is beginning his path to success, but the legacies before him are hard to match.
Bud Grant is the greatest head coach in Minnesota Vikings history, with a 62% win percentage and ten playoff wins. Seven years after Grant’s last season, Dennis Green emerged onto the scene, winning four playoff games to go along with a 61% winning percentage (profootballhistory.com)
Other coaches include Mike Tice, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, and Mike Zimmer. All four took the Vikings to the playoffs but were missing the IT factor and given the door.
Kevin O’Connell might’ve broken the cycle, giving the fans a reason to watch the team and perhaps take them to uncharted waters. The man’s personality, charisma, and leadership reflect the culture on and off the field. We are midway through the 2022-23 season, and it’s been a remarkable year for the Vikings. Can O’Connell, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell bring the Lombardi trophy to the US Bank stadium, or can they get the Vikings to a Super Bowl for the first time since 1985?
Kirk Cousins, Harrison Smith, Kevin O’Connell, and co. have a tall task ahead of them, but first, they need to make fans believe in them. It’s a gut-check time at the midway point, and I have one question.
Do you believe in the Minnesota Vikings, because it looks like the team already does.

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