Ben Goessling's Second Thoughts
A look back at the Vikings' 27-23 victory over Denver.
Three players who stood out
•Danielle Hunter: He didn't post a sack, but the defensive end was a regular presence in the Broncos backfield.
•Trae Waynes: On a day where the Broncos had success throwing at Xavier Rhodes, Waynes came up with a number of the Vikings' biggest plays in pass coverage.
•Stefon Diggs: According to Pro Football Focus, he was tied for third in the league with 10 catches of 20 yards or more before yesterday, and he added catches of 44 and 54 yards on Sunday.
Two areas of concern
Special teams play: Ameer Abdullah's fumbled kickoff — on a ball coach Mike Zimmer said Abdullah shouldn't have brought out of the end zone — would likely have cost the Vikings points if Brandon Allen hadn't thrown into double coverage for an interception, and Mike Hughes muffed a punt in the fourth quarter. The Vikings also had an Eric Wilson neutral zone infraction penalty on a punt on fourth-and-3, enabling the Broncos to keep the ball and ultimately resulting in a Brandon McManus field goal.
Pass coverage in the secondary: The Vikings put themselves in a 20-point hole largely because of the big plays they gave up (or created with their own penalties). Xavier Rhodes had tight coverage on Courtland Sutton's 48-yard reception in the first quarter, but he was hit for a 24-yard pass interference penalty two plays later. Sutton also beat Rhodes for 43 yards on a double move in the fourth quarter. The Broncos targeted Mike Hughes on a back-shoulder throw to Tim Patrick that went for 29 yards in the third quarter, and Rhodes got caught off-balance on a 14-yard completion to Royce Freeman that helped Denver pick up a third-and-13 on its final drive.
And one big question
Is Kirk Cousins playing well enough to take the Vikings on a playoff run? The quarterback has taken a big bite out of two of the long-standing narratives about him — his inability to beat good teams on the road or play well in the clutch — over the past two weeks, and it's tough to imagine the Vikings could ask for much more out of him right now. He is fifth in the NFL with 2,756 passing yards, despite ranking only 14th in attempts, and is fourth in the NFL with 7.64 net yards per attempt. He has thrown 21 touchdowns against just three interceptions, has been precise in the red zone (another area of his game where he has historically struggled) and has completed 70.6% of his passes. We also haven't seen the kinds of backbreaking turnovers that have dogged Cousins at times in his career; he lost a fumble on a strip sack Sunday, but he hasn't thrown an interception since the Week 6 pass vs. the Eagles that Diggs batted back into traffic.