October 30, 2017

Vikings rally in the second half to beat Cleveland 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Early Sunday morning (North American time), the Vikings faced the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium in the last of four NFL regular season games to be played in the UK this year. Cleveland took advantage of an early break, scoring a touchdown after a Case Keenum pass was deflected and intercepted during the first offensive series (but they didn’t convert on the kick). As the TV announcers mentioned several times, this was only the Browns’ second lead of the season (the Browns were 0-7 coming into the game). At this point, long-time Viking fans may have suddenly started to feel that oh-too-familiar dread that the team had fallen into yet another trap game…

Minnesota took advantage of a muffed punt deep in Cleveland territory, but the drive stalled out quickly so Kai Forbath was called on to kick a field goal. Late in a sloppy first half, Keenum scrambled and passed the ball to an unmarked Adam Thielen in the corner of the end zone for the Vikings’ first TD of the game (the kick was blocked). The half ended with the Vikings trailing by 1 point, 13-12.

1500ESPN‘s Matthew Coller agrees that the game lacked a lot of grace and finesse, especially during that awkward first half:

Sunday’s 33-16 Vikings win had (combined) two fumbles, an INT, a blocked kick, a missed chip-shot field goal and a double-decker bus full of penalties. So if you woke up early in the states in hopes of a thriller, you were disappointed.

But the ends is more important than the means, in this case. The Vikings’ win gives them an opportunity – especially with Aaron Rodgers out – to play .500 in the second half and cruise to an NFC North title.

Concern during the first half was justified. Last season the Vikings went into Chicago, who was 1-6 at the time, and lost. It was the game that spun their season out of control. So when the Browns went into halftime with the lead and the Vikings had little-to-nothing going in the run or pass game and the defense looked sluggish at times, it was natural for Vikings fans to have a here-we-go-again feeling.

Early in the game, it looked like quarterback Case Keenum was turning into a pumpkin. He threw an interception on the first drive and had a number of passes tipped. Keenum looked like a different quarterback with his running game slowed and the offensive line dinged up. Third string guard Danny Isidora was making his first start and Mike Remmers left the game early with a concussion.

At the same time, the Browns were moving the ball. Following Keenum’s interception, running back Isaiah Crowell ran past a confused Vikings defense for a 26-yard touchdown.

DeShone Kizer also orchestrated an eight-play, 82-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter to put Cleveland up 13-9. Hands were securely over the panic button at that point.

The heroics of the second half (mostly) out-weighed the miscues of the first, as Christopher Gates rounds up the stats for the Daily Norseman:

The Vikings’ stat sheet wound up looking fairly solid after a rough first half. Case Keenum wound up completing 27-of-43 passes for 288 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Like the rest of the team, he was fairly ugly in the first half, but played much better after the break.

Adam Thielen led the way for the Vikings on the receiving side, bringing in five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Jerick McKinnon had another solid game catching the ball, hauling in six passes for 72 yards. David Morgan got in on the action with three catches for 28 yards, and Stefon Diggs had four grabs for 27 yards in his first game back from a groin injury. Kyle Rudolph also had 27 yards and a touchdown on six catches. Laquon Treadwell (21 yards), Latavius Murray (eight yards), and Michael Floyd (7 yards) each had one reception.

On the rushing ledger, neither McKinnon nor Murray was particularly effective, but the job got done. McKinnon had 50 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, while Murray gained 39 yards on 19 carries.

It took Everson Griffen a while to extend his streak of consecutive games with a sack, but he eventually got one, taking Kizer down late in the fourth quarter. He now has at least one sack in each of Minnesota’s first eight games.

The Vikings move their record to 6-2 on the season, while the Browns fall to 0-8. Both teams will have next week off for their bye following this week’s contest in London.

It wasn’t the blowout that many were expecting, but the Minnesota Vikings defeat the Cleveland Browns in early Sunday morning action in London by a final score of 33-16. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman, and enjoy the rest of your NFL Sunday!

Ted Glover finally got around to posting his essential Stock Market Report with the Buy/Sell listings:

Buy: Adam Thielen’s ‘other football’ TD celebration. When the Vikings finally got in the end zone, it just happened to be Thielen’s first TD of the year. For his celebration, he ran towards the stands, slid on both knees, and raised his arms like many Premier League soccer players do when they score a goal. It was very original and fitting, considering the setting. Well done!

Sell: Adam Thielen’s ‘other football’ TD celebration topped ‘Duck Duck Gray Duck’. As fun and original as it was…it wasn’t Kyle Rudolph’s ‘Duck Duck Goose Grey Gray Duck’ celebration at Chicago on Monday Night. And nothing against Thielen, but it’s gonna take an original and creative celebration to top it.

Buy: The screen or sideline pass as an occasional weapon to offset the blitz. When used sparingly and in the right situation against a defensive alignment looking to blitz, it can be a deadly weapon, like McKinnon’s screen pass TD against Green Bay a couple weeks back.

Sell: The screen or sideline pass served up more often than fish and chips. However, when it’s used more often than a 50 year old hooker, it becomes stale, unattractive, and there’s a good chance you’re gonna get crabs. People will also want to fire the offensive coordinator. Until you look up at the scoreboard and see you put up 33 points, in spite of half of your offensive plays called being screens, not because of it.

Buy: Trae Waynes coming into his own as a CB. I found my passport, and I’m travelling back to Waynes World. He had a solid game today, and if you realize that he isn’t, and probably won’t be, you can appreciate him for what he is—a decent starting cornerback that complements arguably the best CB in the NFL very well.

Sell: All the social media hot takes whenever Waynes gives up a catch. Look, he’s gonna give up catches and yards because he’s thrown at more than probably any CB in the NFL. And it’s not because he sucks, it’s because no one throws at Xavier Rhodes. But you know what? For every catch he gives up, he’ll come back the next play and break up a pass, stop a running play on the edge before it becomes a big play, and get his fair share of picks. No, Waynes isn’t Rhodes. But he isn’t the second coming of Wasswa Serwanga or Robert Tate, either.

Everson Griffen caused some very late concern by drawing an offsides flag … on the very last play of the game: he’d been hurt on the previous play and somehow nobody noticed he was still back behind the line of scrimmage until the Browns were snapping the ball again. Fortunately, he does not seem to have been seriously injured.

And of course, no game report this season is complete without some quarterback speculation:

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