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Week 13 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 10, New England Patriots 24


What you need to know

Minnesota Vikings

It was a very poor showing all around for the Vikings. They traveled to New England and just unraveled at the hands on the Patriots. Kirk Cousins had one of his worst games as a Viking starter and the offense just did not seem to click. The Vikings were able to tie the game at 10 in the 3rd quarter, but the Patriots scored on the next drive and pulled away. There was a heated exchange between Adam Thielen and Bill Belichick on the sideline in the 4th quarter when New England challenged a spot ruling. The cameras picked up some of the exchange and it was very heated. Thielen was clearly distraught after being held and interfered with on several plays as well as not catching 2 balls he normally would have. Stefon Diggs took issue with the referees as well but to no avail. The Vikings just faded in the New England cold as the Patriots were able to pull away. It was a sloppy game filled with penalties on both sides. At one point this was thought to be a potential Super Bowl preview but both teams are currently struggling. The Vikings will travel all the way across the country to take on the Seahawks on Monday night next week.

New England Patriots

-This is still Sony Michel's backfield when it comes to carries - 15 to 20 per game isn't unreasonable provided game script isn't lopsided

-Tom Brady's deep ball continues to look wonky at times, but it doesn't seem like it's arm strength. Rather, mechanics and timing.

-If the Pats defense can continue to mesh, it will make life easier on the offense as a whole. The secondary was outstanding against the Vikings, almost completely shutting down Diggs and Thielen.

Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 32 - 44 - 201 - 1 TD / 2 INT
It was not a banner day for Cousins this week. The New England defense took away his top receiver in Adam Thielen and he just could not find his rhythm outside of that. 29 of his 43 targets went to Thielen, Cook, and Robinson. There were a few large chunk plays down the field, but New England tackled well, and no Viking receiver was really able to break free. There were 2 plays in the corner of the end zone where the Patriots defender was draped all over Thielen and then Robinson, but the referees kept the flags in their pocket and let the players play. Both Thielen and Robinson were visibly upset, but Cousins did not throw the best pass to begin with. His lone touchdown was a 5-yard score to Thielen who ran a drag across the field and caught a floater in the corner or the end zone. It was an easy pitch and catch for Cousins and Thielen. The game ended with back to back interceptions from Cousins. The first was just unlucky as he took a deep shot to Robinson in the end zone. His receiver looked to make the sliding catch but bobbled the ball as he went to the ground. It then hit and rolled on the defender before being kicked in the air and caught by a second defender. T should have been a touchdown if he had held on to the ball but ended up being an unlucky interception. The second interception that ended the game was a deep shot down the middle towards Thielen. The route was just undercut by the defender and there was nothing Thielen could have done. Cousins struggled this week and is going to have another tough test next week in Seattle.

RB Dalvin Cook, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 84 - 0, Rec: 8 - 22 - 0 (10 targets)
The Vikings were playing from behind this week and abandoned the running game early on. Cook was finding success on the ground and averaged 9.3 yards per carry. His averaged was bolstered by a 32-yard run and that he only got 9 carries. The Vikings only ran the ball 13 times as a team and did not surpass 100 yards on the ground. Cook caught 8 of his 10 targets but could not do very much with them. They were short swing passes and check downs where he was tackled almost immediately. His longest reception was 5 yards and there was not much of a chance for more on any of his other catches. The Vikings tied the game in the 3rd but had already decided the abandon the run at this point. Cook is starting to show flashes of the reason why the Viking think he is their back of the future. He is going to need to continue to progress for the rest of the season and show the Vikings that he can be the lead back they thought he could be.

RB Latavius Murray, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 11 - 0, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
It was not a very involved game for Murray. He was given 4 carries and 2 receptions. For comparison, Cook had 9 carries and 10 targets. Murray was never really given a chance to get going with the Vikings playing from behind in the second half. There is a good chance that Murray is no longer part of the Vikings next season, but he needs more opportunity to establish value. His longest run was 5 yards and his longest catch was 2. There was no room for Murray to run this week and the game plan for the Vikings did not help with that. Seattle has been softer against the run than recent seasons, but Murray will still need to have his number called more to make a difference.

WR Stefon Diggs, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 49 - 0 (5 targets)
It was a frustrating day for Viking receivers. They seemed to take exception with the coverage by New England and were looking for flags all over the place. Diggs was visibly angry on the sideline when they did not call pass interference on a play in the end zone to Robinson. Diggs caught all 5 of his targets this week but only broke free once for 24 yards. This was one of the rare times a Viking player was able to break a tackle and get extra yards after the catch. It was not a great game for the Viking pass game this week and Diggs is going to have to play much better next week if the Vikings want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

WR Aldrick Robinson, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 37 - 0 (9 targets)
What could have been for Robinson if Cousins had a better day under center. Robinson had 9 targets this week, but only snagged 5 receptions. His longest catch was 10 yards and everything else was just short out routes. There was a period where the Vikings ran the same play 3 times and Robinson caught it along the sideline each time. The big play went from being a touchdown to an interception very quickly. Robinson ran a go route up the seam and Cousins looked to have made a great throw to a sliding Robinson for a score. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold on to the ball, and after the ball rolled on the back of one defender it got kicked into the air and intercepted by another defender. Robinson had another exchange in the corner of the end zone that could have been a touchdown had it not been for interference that was not called. The defender had wrapped his arm around Robinson and held him to the point that he could not jump and make a play on the ball. It was the same referee who did not throw a flag when Thielen was interfered with in the exact same spot. It was a tough game for the Vikings, but Robinson could have easily had 2 touchdowns and changed the outcomes of the game.

WR Adam Thielen, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 28 - 1 (10 targets)
It was not a great showing for Thielen this week. He dropped balls he would normally catch, he took exception with the referees and the lack of pass interference calls, and then got into a shouting match with Bill Belichick on the sideline after a spot challenge. It was a very heated exchange and was caught on camera. The game was not great either as he only caught half of his 10 targets. Thielen and Cousins did not look to be on the same page this week after lighting up the NFL all season long. His longest catch was 9 yards. He dropped a much deeper pass down the middle of the field after a diving attempt, and then had a clear pass interference call not be made in the end zone that would have been a 20-yard touchdown. It was a misstep on what has been an amazing season for Thielen. He still had a touchdown catch this week. It was a 5-yard drag route where he outran his defender to the back corner of the end zone. It was an easy pitch and catch with Cousins for the score. Unfortunately, the rest of the game is going to overshadow the score and will be one to forget for Thielen.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (3 targets)
It looked like Cousins was finally going to start using Rudolph more, but that fell off in the second half this week. Rudolph had a big 23-yard catch and another tight roping catch on the sideline but did not see much outside of that. Cousins continues to forget about him in the red zone and just does not use him as much as they should. Rudolph does not lose looks to other tight ends, but instead competition from Diggs, Robinson, and Thielen. Cousins elected to throw to Cook out of the back field 10 times rather than look for Rudolph down the field. It has been a frustrating season for the big tight end but he continues to show flashes of how he can be a great tight end in the NFL.


New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 32 - 311 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
This was one of those luxury days for Tom Brady. He didn't need to be on his A game, as the Pats defense completely dominated the Vikings to the tune of 10 total points, shutting down Diggs and Thielen in the process. Many of the throws on the day were short passes, working the flats, etc, particularly early in the game. Brady's lone touchdown was to a wide open Josh Gordon who sat in the middle of zone coverage then raced into the end zone. The "big" milestone was Brady hitting 1,000 career rushing yards on what was a very quick QB scramble/draw, something we may never see again. Brady's deep ball was once again iffy - as an example, he completed a deeper pass to Patterson for about 30 yards in the air, but it was barely at Patterson's shoetops. Brady's interception was a bad one, with the ball thrown right to a defender on an out route. Beyond that, it was a fairly unremarkable outing, taking what the Vikings defense gave. Rain also had a slight hand at points in the game, but not enough to cause serious dagame.

RB Sony Michel, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 63 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)
Perhaps the highlight of Sony Michel's day was that he was stuffed at the goal line a couple times, and subsequently had touchdowns vultured by James Develin. Two of them, in fact. The Vikings are a tough defense to run against, and this was no exception, as Michel found little room to run on several of his carries. Still, it was good to see him in a feature role even with Rex Burkhead back.

RB James White, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 26 - 0, Rec: 7 - 92 - 0 (9 targets)
White's stat line was a bit misleading, as about 40 of his receiving yards came on a dump off at the end of the first half when everyone expected a hail mary. Other than that, he was very involved in the short passing game as always, as the Vikings allowed many completions underneath. Business as usual for the receiving stud.

RB Rex Burkhead, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 20 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)
This was Burkhead's first game action in several weeks, and he was integrated slowly with a handful of touches. The important thing is that he looked healthy, but this is clearly Sony Michel and James White's backfield as of now, with Burkhead in as a change of pace/designed play back.

WR Julian Edelman, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 35 - 0, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (8 targets)
It wasn't Edelman's best day through the air, as he didn't contribute much by way of yards or catches. He also dropped a critical third down pass, as the game was still in question at that time. However, he did have 2 designed runs which saw big chunk gains, highlighting his versatility in other ways.

WR Josh Gordon, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 58 - 1 (3 targets)
His volume wasn't strong as the Pats worked the short game, but Gordon did get wide open on his touchdown, finding a nice open spot in the middle of the field. He then raced into the end zone for a fairly easy score. Tom Brady also did a great job stepping up in the pocket in the face of pressure on the throw.

TE Rob Gronkowski, 73 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (4 targets)
A fairly quiet day once again for Gronk against the Vikings. The big tight end isn't running with the same fluidity he has in seasons past, which makes one wonder if injuries are taking a toll on his body. Still, the only concern for him and the Pats is once again the playoffs, so don't be surprised if he's treated lightly until then.