By: Abby Altman
With a fantastic draft, a great off season, and most injured players returning ready to work, the Vikings 2021 season was highly anticipated.
Many Vikings fans expected a comeback from the less than average season last year, but week 1 made most fans lose hope. At halftime, the Vikings were down 7-14. That doesn’t seem bad, but fans watching knew things weren’t looking good. The offense in the first half was abysmal. They received 12 penalties for a total loss of 116 yards, including 3 false starts in the opening drive, and 4 penalties in the first 8 snaps.
“We shot ourselves in the foot, especially in the first half, way too many times,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stated.
The offensive line gave up 3 sacks, and the offense scored just 1 touchdown in the first half.
Kirk Cousins, possibly the most hated player on the Vikings in recent years, played well but was seemingly overshadowed by the loss. Cousins went for 36/49, with 351 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
The defense was another story, and not a much better one. The Bengals offense, Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and the rest of the offensive stars, picked up 366 total yards, and 2 touchdowns in the first half, and 1 in the second.
Erik Kendricks looked like he was ready to be back, with 15 tackles, to lead the league after 1 week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop Cincinnati from scoring
But for many, the main story of the game was neither team. It was the refs.
With 10:00 left in the 4th quarter, WR Justin Jefferson caught a 20 yard pass from QB Kirk Cousins, and proceeded to run the final 20 yards to land in the end zone. The refs didn’t call the touchdown, stating that he was down before he landed in the end zone, and called third down. Further replays clearly showed an image of Jefferson hanging over the end zone, his body clearly still off the ground. The call was not overturned.
After a horrendous first half, the Vikings managed to pull it together, and came back to tie the game with a 53 yard kick made by Greg Joseph with 3 seconds on the clock. The game went into overtime, and both defenses looked strong forcing each team to punt at least once.
With less than 2 minutes on the clock in overtime, the Vikings were sitting roughly on the 40 yard line. Getting very close to field goal range, the Vikings called 1 more play. With a handoff to star RB Dalvin Cook, his run ended on the bottom of a pileup with a group of Cincinnati defenders. The refs called a fumble, recovered by Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt. The Vikings challenged the call, and after several minutes were spent reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stayed a fumble, allowing the Bengals to set up their game winning field goal drive.
Online comment sections since then have been flooded with fans, some Vikings, some not, stating that “Dalvin didn’t fumble”. Many fans were outraged that the ruling on the field was not overturned.
In a post game conference, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen spoke out about the game and the offensive mistakes. Thielen stated that the Vikings felt “[R]eally confident coming into this game”. Obviously, that confidence was shot down by mistakes. Thielen made a comment saying that he believes this is a good team and will bounce back in week 2. From the interview on Minnesota Vikings YouTube, Thielen says, “You gotta play clean football, because that’s (penalties) what loses games”.