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Week 9 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 23, Kansas City Chiefs 26


What you need to know

Minnesota Vikings

If the Vikings miss the playoffs by a game this year, it will be this loss that everyone points to as the reason why. The offense got off to a slow start and never fully recovered this week. Adam Thielen left with the same hamstring injury after the first offensive drive, Cousins could not connect with Diggs, and the Chiefs defense did a great job containing Dalvin Cook. Dan Bailey continues to struggle and missed a chip shot extra point this week and the defense could not step up and make a play at the end when it mattered. The biggest blow came late in the 4th quarter on the drive after the Chiefs tied that game 23-23. The Vikings offense lost 7 yards on the ensuing drive and would punt the ball back with a little over 2 minutes left. Britton Colquitt shanked the punt and set the Chiefs up on the Viking 45. The defense got a huge sack and fumble for a loss but could not keep the Chiefs out of field goal range for a game winning kick as time expired. A bad punt and a poorly timed time out at the end of the game gave the Chiefs a win rather than the game going into overtime. The Vikings are not 6-3 on the season and will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings in a thrilling 26-23 game on Sunday. Matt Moore completed 25 of 35 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown. Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 125 yards and one touchdown, while also catching two passes for three yards. LeSean McCoy was very much a non-factor, rushing three times for nine yards while also catching one pass for zero yards. Tyreek Hill was the star of the game, catching six passes for 140 yards and one touchdown on eight targets. Sammy Watkins led the Chiefs with 10 targets and caught seven passes for 63 yards. Demarcus Robinson caught one pass for five yards. Travis Kelce had seven catches for 62 yards on nine targets.

Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 38 - 220 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0
The story line of not being able to win the big game continues to Cousins. There were a lot of things that went wrong for the Vikings defense and the loss cannot be solely put on him, but it was not his finest effort. Cousins was wildly inaccurate this week and missed on several key throws that could have easily changed the game. He missed Diggs on a long pass that could have gone for a touchdown and changed the entire game script in the 1st half. He did not turn the ball over and added 3 touchdowns, but it was far from a dominating performance. His first touchdown went to Bisi Johnson for 4 yards. Johnson ran a slant that got shut down, but he smartly continued up the field and Cousins found him all alone in the back of the end zone. It was an easy pitch and catch to tie the game 7-7. The second touchdown went to little used Ameer Abdullah and was a 16-yard wheel route that the back up running back took down the side line and into the end zone. It was a check down throw that ended up working out when all of the coverage rolled to the other side of the field. His third touchdown went to Kyle Rudolph and was a great throw on a slant in the back of the end zone. Rudolph carried 2 defenders with him, and Cousins delivered the ball just before he met with the safety in the middle of the field. Cousins was sacked a single time for a loss of 8 yards and managed to hold on to the ball the entire game. Cousins will have to put this one behind him before traveling to Dallas to take on a familiar opponent on Sunday Night Football next week. It is a great opportunity to show Minnesota that he can win the big prime time game.

RB Dalvin Cook, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 71 - 0, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (7 targets)
Kansas City’s defense has been ripe for the picking against top ranked offenses but Cook and the Vikings could not get anything going this week. They were stubborn and would not move off of Cook to try anything different on the ground. They ran him 21 times with the next closest rusher getting 3 carries. Cook’s longest run went for 12 yards and he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry this week. Cook had more than 100 yards from scrimmage, but he proved to be ineffective for the most part this week. He had a 22-yard screen play that setup the go-ahead touchdown to Rudolph, but he caught just 4 of his 7 targets and dealt with a wildly inaccurate Kirk Cousins this week. Cook saw Damien Williams break a 91-yard touchdown run against the Viking defense but never got his chance to break free. The Vikings rushing attack combined for under 100 yards total and the offensive coordinator refused to move off of what was clearly not working. Cook will look to reset next week against Dallas.

RB Alexander Mattison, 6 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
It was not a great game for Mattison this week. The Vikings did everything they could to get Cook going, but he was never able to break free. Rather than shift more carries to Mattison to try and vary the offensive attack they gave him just 3 carries and a single target in the passing game. Mattison did not make the reception and his longest rush of the game went for 3 yards. Nothing was really working for the Vikings on offense this week and Mattison’s workload suffered because of it.

RB Ameer Abdullah, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 16 - 1 (1 targets)
It is tough being the third running back on the depth chart behind Cook and Mattison, but Abdullah was finally able to make his mark this week. He only had 2 touches against Kansas City with a single rush going for 2 yards, and a 16-yard catch. The catch was the important play as it went for a touchdown. Cousins found Abdullah on a wheel route out of the back field and he took the ball down the side line and into the end zone for the second touchdown of the game. The Vikings were not willing to move off of Cook as the primary rusher and there were not many touches to go around. Abdullah is buried on the depth chart and is not expected to see meaningful action barring an injury.

WR Stefon Diggs, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (4 targets)
The string of impressive games for Diggs came to a screeching halt this week when he managed to catch just 1 of his 4 targets for 4 yards. There seemed to be a clear disconnect with Cousins again this week as they were just missing on several big time plays. Cousins over threw a diving Diggs on a play that should have gone for a touchdown and then was just off on almost every other throw that went his way. The pair could be seen on the sideline talking calmly and looking at replays on an iPad, but they were never able to get things going this week. It was a frustrating loss for the Vikings and Diggs this week.

WR Olabisi Johnson, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 1 (2 targets)
It was a game of backups stepping up in the offense when the stars were not shining. Johnson caught 1 of his 2 targets this week for a 4-yard touchdown. IT was the Vikings first score of the game and tied the score at 7-7. Johnson ran a slant that was shut down by the linebacker in the middle of the field and then shifted his route up into the end zone and found a void. The linebacker stayed in his zone and Johnson was wide open in the space behind him for the easy touchdown. Cousins delivered a strike to his chest on the 3rd and goal play. There was not much else to Johnson this week, even with Thielen out and Diggs struggling.

WR Adam Thielen, 7 offensive snaps (1 targets)
It was not the return that many had hoped for Thielen. He was targeted a single time on the opening offensive drive and then left after re-aggravating his hamstring injury. Thielen could be seen on the sideline testing out that injured leg, but never felt confident enough to come back into the game. All of the stars for the Vikings struggled this week and Thielen not being on the field made things that much more difficult.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 1 (5 targets)
It has been a very up and down season for Rudolph so far this year and he is starting to see more and more pressure from Irv Smith behind him. This week he caught 3 of his 5 targets and most importantly the go-ahead touchdown early in the 4th quarter. It was a 3-yard score with Cousins finding Rudolph across the middle on the slant. He fit the ball into a tight window and Rudolph made the easy catch. The play was setup by a 22-yard screen play by Cook and gave the Vikings hope late in the game. Rudolph added a 15-yard catch for a 1st down but was not involved in the passing game heavily otherwise. Irv Smith is emerging as the pass catching tight end and there may be an end to Rudolph’s Viking tenure at the end of the season if everything continues to trend this way.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Matt Moore, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 35 - 275 - 1 TD / 0 INT
Matt Moore completed 25 of 35 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown in the Chiefs win over the Vikings on Sunday. This was an impressive performance from Moore, as he was not afraid to look down the field and throw his receivers open. Moore has the reputation of a game manager, but he was far from it in this one, although it does help when you have Tyreek Hill on the outside. Moore’s only touchdown pass of the game came with the Chiefs facing a second and 10 from the Vikings 40 yard line. Moore took the snap under center and play-action faked to Damien Williams in the backfield. Moore then looked down the field to Hill, who was running a deep post route to the right sideline. Moore threw an absolute dime, dropping the ball to Hill’s outside shoulder and out in front of him. Hill made a fantastic jumping and diving catch before rolling into the end zone for the 40 yard touchdown. Moore had several other fantastic throws, although one, to Sammy Watkins most sticks out in my mind. The Vikings had an aggressive pass rush all day, and on this one they got into the backfield quick were about to be all over Moore. Instead, Moore held firm in the pocket and completed his throwing motion without changing his delivery, despite the fact that he was guaranteeing the fact that he was going to get blasted by two defenders. The pass was out in front of Watkins who was running a crossing route to the left sideline. He made a fantastic one handed catch with a defender draped all over him. Moore’s connection with Hill though was what kept the Chiefs in the game though, as Moore was able to complete a 30 yard pass while dead on the run to his right, which set up a Chiefs field goal to put them up by four points. Then with the Chiefs down by three late in the 4th quarter, Moore looked the Vikings pass rush in the face again and uncorked a deep ball to Hill that went for 41 yards. With as much pressure as the Vikings were putting on the Chiefs passing attack, Moore did a fantastic job “not seeing ghosts” and challenging the Vikings secondary every chance he got. With the game tied, and the Chiefs having one last chance to win the game, Moore was sacked on first down, bringing up a second and 21 from the Chiefs 44 yard line. Moore, showing the resiliency that only an 11 year backup can, then completed consecutive passes to Kelce and Hill for 17 and 13 yards, respectively. This set up a Harrison Butker 40 yard field goal to win the game, an improbable win for the Chiefs that improved their record to 6-3.

RB Damien Williams, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 125 - 1, Rec: 2 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)
Damien Williams 12 times for 125 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes on two targets for 3 yards. Williams was having trouble penetrating the Vikings defensive front for most of the game, although it didn’t stop the Chiefs passing attack from moving the ball. Where it really hurt them was in the red zone, as Williams, and the rest of the Chiefs running backs, were unable to give the offense advantageous situations on second and third down, which led to four Butker field goals. Williams saved his day however, by ripping off a 91 yard touchdown run straight up the middle of the Vikings defense. While the Chiefs offensive line gets the credit for opening up the hole, Williams deserves of the spotlight for weaving his way up the seam before putting on one of the nastiest jukes I’ve ever seen. In fact, the Vikings defender is still looking for his jock-strap, and I’m not sure he’s going to find it anytime soon. Given the flow of the game, and the Chiefs difficulty in the red zone, it was a very important play that gave the Chiefs the lead. Without that run, who knows if the Chiefs win this game, and 5-4 is a lot different than 6-3, especially when the Chiefs get their star quarterback in Patrick Mahomes back this week. Williams out-touched McCoy 12-3 rushing the ball, and it look as though he will start to see a majority of the carries after McCoy’s fumbling problems have come to the forefront.

RB LeSean McCoy, 6 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets)
LeSean McCoy rushed three times for nine yards and caught one pass on one target for zero yards. After fumbling at crucial points in the game in weeks past, McCoy is looking like he might be phased out of his time share with Williams. It is not that Williams is the more effective runner, because he is not, McCoy has been very efficient this season and looks spry for a player with so many miles on him. McCoy has always carried the ball like someone running to give a cell-phone call to another person, with one hand and no semblance of protection. This was less of a problem when McCoy was the featured back on the Eagles and Bills, and was churning out big plays and 1,000 yard seasons. Now, he is the second man in a platoon of running backs, and any fumble is going to be criticized and looked at closely. His fumble last week was avoidable, and it came at a crucial point in the game, so it is not surprising that Andy Reid has turned to Williams to head his rushing attack. I don’t see McCoy being completely phased out going forward, but the chances of him becoming the lead back have come and gone, barring injury.

WR Sammy Watkins, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 63 - 0 (10 targets)
Sammy Watkins caught seven of 10 targets for 63 yards in the Chiefs win over the Vikings on Sunday. Watkins has consistently been heavily targeted this season, although most of his targets come in the short and intermediate passing game, and he has become something of a possession receiver for an offense that already has a player running deep routes in Hill. Watkins has stepped up to the plate, making tough grabs while using his size to gain separation off the line of scrimmage. Six of Watkins 10 targets came on first down, a sign that the Chiefs are trying to use him as a target that can set up advantageous situations on second and third down. This is especially important with the way the Chiefs running game was cut off for most of this game. While it won’t result in the type of games that he put up in week one, Watkins has a solid floor, and it should only get better with Mahomes back at quarterback.

WR Tyreek Hill, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 6 - 140 - 1 (8 targets)
LeSean McCoy rushed three times for nine yards and caught one pass on one target for zero yards. After fumbling at crucial points in the game in weeks past, McCoy is looking like he might be phased out of his time share with Williams. It is not that Williams is the more effective runner, because he is not, McCoy has been very efficient this season and looks spry for a player with so many miles on him. McCoy has always carried the ball like someone running to give a cell-phone call to another person, with one hand and no semblance of protection. This was less of a problem when McCoy was the featured back on the Eagles and Bills, and was churning out big plays and 1,000 yard seasons. Now, he is the second man in a platoon of running backs, and any fumble is going to be criticized and looked at closely. His fumble last week was avoidable, and it came at a crucial point in the game, so it is not surprising that Andy Reid has turned to Williams to head his rushing attack. I don’t see McCoy being completely phased out going forward, but the chances of him becoming the lead back have come and gone, barring injury.

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WR Mecole Hardman, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0
Mecole Hardman did not have a catch and rushed only one time for seven yards in the Chiefs win over the Vikings on Sunday. Hardman’s most impact play was for the Vikings unfortunately, as he fumbled away the ball during a punt return. This stat line shouldn’t be that surprising though, as Hardman was not seeing a large volume of touches. With Hill back in the lineup, and Moore at quarterback, Hardman was somewhat disposable as a utility player. With Mahomes back at quarterback this week, Hardman should get more opportunities simply because the Chiefs offense will get more opportunities, but he will continue to be a hard player to trust from week to week for the rest of the season.

TE Travis Kelce, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 62 - 0 (9 targets)
Travis Kelce caught seven passes for 62 yards on nine targets in the Chiefs win over the Vikings on Sunday. This was another floor game for Kelce, as he saw his fair share of targets, but the Vikings looked to be paying him particular attention in the middle of the field. This enabled Hill to run free in one on one coverage down the field, and we know how that ended up, with all three of those passes completed for over 100 yards. In many ways this is Kelce’s great asset, as his ability to make defenses close to the middle of the field, puts the Chiefs outside receivers in great positions to make plays. Kelce did come up big at the end of the game, making a 17 yard catch on second and 21 with the Chiefs driving trying to win the game. That play set up a short third and four, where a pass was completed to Hill for 13 yards, setting up the winning field goal. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets, but they weren’t easy catches. He had defenders draped all over him on at least four of the catches, yet managed to make the catch, which is consistent with the player he’s been his whole career. With Mahomes coming back this Sunday, Kelce will see his ceiling rise again.