The Minnesota Vikings have at least one turnover in every game this season. They have allowed a fumble or interception to be returned for a touchdown in two of the last three games. They rank third in fumbles lost.
On Sunday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, a fumble by Adam Thielen and pick-six by Kirk Cousins played a significant role in the team’s 30-20 loss.
One day later, Thielen, who caught seven passes on seven targets and a touchdown, pointed to the snafus as the reason the Vikings came up short.
”We can’t make those critical mistakes in the game like we did last night,” Thielen said. “In a lot of areas we are doing some really good things, but like every week, you can’t make critical errors in critical situations.”
The Vikings significantly outgained the Saints in the game. Cousins finished with 359 yards passing to just 120 yards through the air for Drew Brees.
”I think we had it going execution wise, scheme wise, all that,” Thielen said. “I think it’s maybe lack of concentration or being too relaxed or what have you. That’s the frustrating part. You know how many times you’ve done it a different way and the right way and the one time you slip up, it costs you.”
On his fumble, which was exacerbated by a 15-yard penalty on Laquon Treadwell, Thielen explained that he was trying to make a big play and did not focus on his usual technique to protect the ball.
“I haven’t watched it, probably won’t watch it, maybe will,” Thielen said. “I know what I did. Every other time I would get in traffic I would put it high and tight and close to my body and for some reason I was in traffic and was trying to split ‘em and use my speed rather than just tucking the ball and being safe with it.”
“I think it was a little bit of a lack of concentration and situational awareness,” Thielen added. “Where we were, the time on the clock, just take the hit, get down and live to play another day. I think it’s just one of those things where you have to be locked into the moment of where you are on the field, what time it is.”
While the turnovers will be the most replayed errors from Sunday night’s loss, there were other moments where the Vikings could have overcome the errors. Down four points early in the third quarter, they failed on fourth-and-1, handing a short field to Brees, who led the Saints to a field goal. And then after Cousins’ pick-six, the Vikings were quickly forced to punt, opening up New Orleans for an 8:15 drive.
The Vikings now have to match up with the Detroit Lions at US Bank Stadium, their final game before the bye week. In their past two games at home against Detroit, coincidentally, key mistakes — a la missed field goal in 2016 and fumble in 2017 — have cost them.
“I feel good about where we’re at,” Thielen said. “I thought we did some really good things and coach reiterated that after the game but it’s such a week-to-week league, you have to bring it every week and if you have mistakes and don’t execute well, you’ll lose a football game.”