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Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan postgame: A no-show performance from the Vikings

Note: This is a quick-reaction column filed immediately after the Vikings-Falcons game. I’ll have a full column up tonight and in the Monday Star Tribune.

The Vikings on Sunday produced the kind of embarrassing no-show performance that gets coaches fired and quarterbacks benched.

They lost, 40-23, to a previously winless team as their expensive quarterback threw three interceptions in the first half against a team that had managed two interceptions in its previous five games.

There is no excuse for Kirk Cousins’ performance. There is no alternative at his position.

Cousins is making a prorated $30 million this year. He would cost $41 million against the salary cap next year if they cut him. They are stuck with him, or at least his contract, until the 2022 season, when cutting him would cost them ``only’’ $10 million against the cap.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer in July signed a contract extension that will pay him through the 2023 season. As poorly as the team has played this season, would the Wilfs fire a coach mere months after giving him a long-term deal?

I thought the Falcons would allow the Vikings to right their season, or at least put them in position to be competitive the rest of the way.

That didn’t happen, and their performance was remindful of their 31-3 loss to Green Bay in 2010 that led to Brad Childress’ dismissal.

Well, there is a difference. In 2010, it was obvious that the team quit on Childress.

Sunday, I didn’t see a lack of effort, just poor quarterback play and reliance on a defense that is a shadow of its former self.

The Falcons were dangerous because of their offense. That the Falcons’ defense held the Vikings to seven points through the first 56 minutes of the game is an indictment of Cousins.

The Vikings might be stuck with him.


@Souhanstrib

Minnesota Vikings-Atlanta Falcons pregame thoughts

The Star Tribune team is assembled at U.S. Bank Stadium for what I believe is the Vikings’ first must-win game of the season.

In retrospect, the Packers in Week 1 with young cornerbacks and no Danielle Hunter was a terrible matchup. The Vikings probably should have won against Tennessee or Seattle, but those are high-quality teams.

The most disappointing loss of the season to date was at Indianapolis, and the Colts have proven to be a good team with an excellent defense.

Today is different. Today, the Vikings face a bad Falcons team whose best player (Julio Jones) is banged-up, and who just fired their coach and GM.

This is a must-win, should-win game. If the Vikings win it, they’ll enter the bye week with a 2-4 record, or one game off what would have been a reasonable pace given the difficulty of their schedule. With one extra playoff spot to pursue this season, they would be in position to win their way into contention over the last 10 games of the season.

If they lose? Now you’re looking at a team being 1-5 with an embarrassing loss, but too much invested in this season and this roster to be able to effectively tank.

That would be the worst-case scenario for this franchise - paying your quarterback, star receiver, star back and star defenders big money while having to chance to contend.

The pick: Vikings 33, Falcons 22.

My record this year: 4-1. I picked the Vikings to win at Indy; otherwise I’ve been right, which is strange.

Today: We have Ben Goessling, Andrew Krammer, Naila-Jean Meyers at the Stadium along with a team of photographers, plus Mark Craig breaking the game down from home.

Check out startribune.com for pregame, in-game game and postgame coverage. I still recommend picking up the Monday paper to see our photos and coverage in total.

Also: Please check out the debut metro column from Myron Medcalf. Myron covered Gopher hoops for our paper before moving on to ESPN. Now he’s back writing a periodic newside column. He’s a great guy and it’s good to have him back in our pages.

Thanks