Following a strong offensive performance by the Minnesota Vikings on primetime last week against the Green Bay Packers, it seemed they might have unlocked some of the secrets to success on offense.
Head coach Mike Zimmer repeatedly praised offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the week leading up to the Vikings’ matchup with the New England Patriots, but the Vikings couldn’t carry over the success from US Bank Stadium to Gillette Stadium.
The Vikings averaged just 4.0 yards per pass play and went 3-for-12 on third down in a 24-10 loss to New England.
“They were using a lot of double coverage on guys and they had a lot of looks where they were showing a lot of zero [coverages] and backing guys out and once in awhile they would come,” Zimmer said. “On fourth down they made us throw the ball to Treadwell because we didn’t have enough guys to block it.”
The ground game did give the Vikings the occasional spark. Running back Dalvin Cook gained 84 yards on just nine carries.
Asked if his team ran the ball enough, Zimmer responded: “No.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins went 32-for-44 with just 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He said the circumstances dictated them going away from the run.
“I don’t know that’s the game we wanted to be dropping back all the time, I think we wanted to be more multiple and creative,” Cousins said. “Sometimes the situation dictated that we had to do that.”
ZImmer credited the New England defense.
“I thought they played aggressive tonight, I thought they did a good job of what they were doing defensively,” Zimmer said. “They had a lot of guys standing up and coming from different areas, so I thought they did a nice job of trying to confuse us.”
Leading up to the game, Zimmer said the Patriots’ strength was making opponents play “left handed” by taking away star players. They did that successfully against Adam Thielen, who caught just five passes for 28 yards.
The Vikings did have a stretch where they were successful, scoring a quick touchdown on the final drive at the end of the second quarter that included two explosive passing plays and then produced a field goal on the second drive of the second half.
“I thought when we picked up the tempo of the offense it helped a little bit because they were lining up in a lot of different places and moving around and I thought we needed to get up on the ball and go fast so they didn’t have time to do all those things,” Zimmer said.
On whether the Vikings will use more of a quick pace offensively going forward, Cousins said:
”I think it’s something we have to talk about,” he said. “Any time you can do as well as we’ve done in that two-minute mode, it’s gotta say something about what we do well or trying to emphasize something we could be good at.”
But the offense stalled again after that. The final four drives went: Punt, downs, interception, interception.
Overall the Vikings ended with 278 yards, their second lowest total of the year. The only less productive day came against Chicago two weeks ago.
On his feeling about the team overall, Zimmer said:
“The season is still in front of us, whatever we want to do.