Vikings Show Impressive Resiliency in Rallying From 20-Point Deficit
A team doesn't have to win every game by double-digits to be considered great.
Overwhelming dominance is a sign of greatness, of course, but it's not the only one. And in the NFL, where stress-free wins are difficult to come by, it's not particularly common. Only three teams have point differentials of more than 100 this season: the Patriots, Ravens, and 49ers.
Even those three have had challenging stretches. The Patriots have two close wins and a loss in their three games against respectable competition. The Ravens were outscored by five points from week two through week six, but have been red-hot ever since. Each of the 49ers' last three games has come down to the wire.
The point is this: in the NFL, the truest sign of a great team is one that finds ways to overcome adversity and win games when everything isn't going smoothly.
For the past two weeks, perhaps no team has embodied that quality more than the Vikings. First, it was a dramatic road win over the Cowboys in a game where the secondary had no answers for Dak Prescott and his receivers. Then, after falling behind by 20 points on Sunday in a game they were projected to win comfortably, the Vikings found a way once again.
"Really pleased with the second half and what we were able to do," Kirk Cousins said. "It doesn't just happen like that. You have to have character, and as one person texted me, that doesn't happen to basic people. You gotta have something to you to be able to bring that back. So I'm proud of my teammates and our coaches for the way they found a plan to get it done."
It would've been easy to see the 20-point halftime deficit as too much to overcome. The numbers would support that; teams were 0-99 in those situations in the last five years. But as they entered the locker room, the Vikings hadn't lost hope.
Mike Zimmer got the team's attention, told them to get their ass in gear, to focus on their jobs, and to forget about the first half. As a team, they looked around at each other and remained confident.
"There were guys in the locker room, such as Kirk, Riley [Reiff], and Kyle [Rudolph] who were saying that we could do it," Stefon Diggs said. "I remember being down by 20 points at Green Bay and we fought to get back into that game, but we wanted a different outcome for this one. Those guys were echoing the fact that we could do it. We could fight and get back in the game and have a chance to win."
"It wasn’t chaotic as you would think," Dalvin Cook said about the halftime locker room. "It took some men looking each other in the eyes, from both sides, and telling each other that none of this is impossible. Nothing that the coaches have drawn up on the board for us is magical. We gotta go out there and execute. In the second half, there was a sense of urgency for us."
Adjustments were made. The Vikings came out in their no-huddle offense to start the second half, and marched down the field for a touchdown in just three and a half minutes. It was the first of four touchdown drives in four attempts for an offense that had looked lifeless before the break. They used various code words to keep the Broncos from figuring out their two-minute offense, which is rarely used for an entire half. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski even drew up new plays on his whiteboard at one point.
The defense, which had struggled in its own right, stepped up and held Denver to a single field goal in the second half. Once the Vikings got rolling, and a sold-out U.S. Bank Stadium got as loud as its been all season, the Broncos were in trouble.
"It’s blood in the water," Diggs said. "My mindset is when there is blood in the water, you have to attack. I feel like we had a chance and we’ve come up short in multiple occasions since I’ve been here. In moments like that, I’ve seen this team fight and do everything they can to get back in the game. Blood was in the water and we did what we had to do."
In the end, after a frantic final defensive stop, the result was the Vikings' biggest comeback victory since 1992.
"You have to come out on top in emotional games," Eric Kendricks said. "It shows what your team is made of, who is going to come up big in those moments, as well as how much fight and heart we have."
As they head forward into the final five regular season games of a season where all of their goals remain in front of them, the Vikings have to be encouraged by what they showed on Sunday. If they find themselves facing adversity in Seattle, or against the Packers, or in the playoffs where nothing comes easy, they can draw on this experience.
"You have to love the resiliency of this team," Kyle Rudolph said. "To fight for four quarters, to come out with what we knew it was going to take, to play perfect football for 30 minutes, and we did that. I cannot credit this team’s effort, fight, and toughness enough. Throughout a 16-game season you are going to have ugly games, but it’s a win and that’s all that matters."