1. 34 minutes to throw a deep ball?
Why did it take more than 34 minutes of game time before the Vikings threw a deep ball in Sunday's 27-24 overtime win against Jacksonville at U.S. Bank Stadium? "I'm not really sure," said receiver Justin Jefferson. "That's a Kubiak question." Gary Kubiak, the offensive coordinator, doesn't talk to the media until Thursday. What say you, quarterback Kirk Cousins? "Yeah," he said. "I don't know." The Jags ranked last in passing yards allowed per play (8.15). Their secondary was so decimated, undrafted rookie Luq Barcoo was playing in only his third NFL game and had no chance against Jefferson. The first deep ball was a 40-yard completion to set up a touchdown. The next series produced three more deep balls to Jefferson, including an 18-yard pass interference penalty against Barcoo and a 20-yard go-ahead TD against Barcoo.
2. Harrison's highlight film
Harrison Smith made three plays that could serve as a highlight reel that showcases his versatility. The first play: 31 seconds left in the half, Vikings trail 9-6 and Jacksonville has third-and-1 at its 32. Smith races up and dislodges the ball from D.J. Chark Jr. for an incompletion. The second play: Jacksonville faces third-and-8 from midfield. In an overloaded formation, Smith lines up on the left edge of the defense. Ends Jordan Brailford and Hercules Mata'afa are to his right. A six-man rush ends with Smith and Mata'afa splitting the sack. The Vikings take the lead on the ensuing possession. And, finally, the interception in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal. Right before the snap, Smith dropped from his spot just behind the right defensive end to a two-deep look. He was in perfect position when Mike Glennon overthrew Chark.
3. Jags' plan for Cook fizzled after start
Give Jacksonville defensive coordinator and North Dakota State grad Todd Wash credit for a fast start against the best running back in the league. A week after missing the Browns game because of a positive COVID-19 test, Wash put together a plan that held Dalvin Cook to 58 yards on 12 first-half touches. "They were overloading a lot, bringing a lot of pressure from the inside and the outside," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. But Cook, who was limited in practice all week because of an ankle injury, finished with 38 touches for 179 yards. He had 32 carries for 120 yards. He also closed out the game with eight carries in a row for 31 yards — including a 10-yarder on third-and-6 — before Dan Bailey kicked the game-winning field goal. "We would've kept giving it to him, too," Zimmer said. "But we false-start on the 1-inch line."
4. Cook's talents include blocking
Former Viking Adrian Peterson is a future Hall of Famer who takes a back seat to no one as a running back. But there was a play Cook made in the third quarter that Peterson never made, which is one reason All-Day didn't always see the field on third downs. It was third-and-9 from the Vikings 47. Jacksonville led 16-13 and went after Cousins with a safety blitz. Cook, who isn't nearly as big as Peterson, slid over perfectly. He lowered his hips and exploded into the defender, stopping the safety cold. Cousins used the extra time to connect with Adam Thielen for 12 yards and a first down. Before that completion, the Vikings were 2-for-6 on third downs. With the drive extended, the Vikings went on to cap an eight-play, 90-yard drive with the go-ahead 20-yard touchdown pass to Jefferson.
5. Offensive line, don't celebrate long
The Jaguars entered Sunday's game with 11 sacks in 11 games, a league low. So what happened the very first time the Vikings faced third-and-long? A simple four-man rush from the league's most anemic attack easily dropped Cousins. Dawuane Smoot, who went into the game with a team-high 2½ sacks, notched the first of his two sacks on the day as the Jaguars posted a season-high four. Yep, one of the worst pass defenses in the league had four sacks, 14 hits on the quarterback and a pick-six. Joe Schobert, who had the pick-six, also had a sack. Daniel Ekuale had a sack, and Joe Giles-Harris had four hits on Cousins. "I think they brought a fair amount of pressures, of blitzes," Cousins said. "It wasn't a four-man rush too often. I think they were bringing a fifth, sometimes a sixth, pretty consistently."