Posted on December 3, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Minnesota has been on a roll winning their last seven games prior to Sunday’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons appeared to be back on track with wins in four of their previous five games. But to stay within reach of the NFC South lead and/or a wild-card berth, they needed a win Sunday over a tough Vikings team.
But when you play a team with a top-five offense and defense like the Vikings, there is no wiggle room. You have to bring our ‘A’ game—which the Falcons did not.
They didn’t commit any turnovers against the Vikings, but they were unable to make plays when they needed to make them. Matt Ryan struggled to hit open receivers, and the offense failed to get on track all day. They converted only one third down out of ten and had to kick a field goal the one time they got in the red zone.
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“I’ve got to play better than that,” Matt Ryan said when asked about some of his throws (ESPN). “We didn’t play well enough on offense as a unit.”
“We just couldn’t get going. We wasn’t in rhythm.” Julio Jones said after the game (ESPN).
Of course, a good reason why they struggled to find any rhythm on offense was that they were playing one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Vikings defense only recorded two hits on Ryan and failed to sack him. But a combination of pressure and solid coverage kept Ryan from getting in sync with his receivers.
While the Minnesota defense did a great job against the Atlanta offense, the Vikings offense appeared to do just enough. Case Keenum completed 83.3 percent (25-30) of his passes and had two passing touchdowns. But he threw for less than 280 yards for the first time in a month (227).
Latavius Murray was unable to crack the 100-yard mark but had a solid day with 76 yards on 16 carries. It wasn’t flashy, but it was effective. Final score– Minnesota 14 Atlanta 9.
In a perfect world, our favorite team would blow out their opponents every week. But while the Vikings certainly did not do that this week, fans should be excited about what they saw. Anyone can win a blowout, but not everyone can win a game with precision.
They did what they needed to and what the Falcons were willing to let them. Could Keenum have taken advantage of Atlanta playing without cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Brian Poole? Maybe—but he was perfect between the numbers (18-18 for 198 yards and a touchdown) according to ESPN Stats.
It may not have made fantasy owners happy, but fans will be glad to see the winning streak extended to eight games. They will have a tough time making it nine next week, though. The Vikings travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers.
As for the Falcons, the loss will make it almost impossible for them to win the NFC South. It also makes the margin of error if they hope to win a wild-card berth nonexistent. They need Seattle to lose to Philadelphia on Monday Night Football in order for them to remain in control of the No. 6 seed.
They will have another tough one on their hands in four days when they face the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football.