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Minnesota Vikings inch closer to wild-card spot in victory over Miami

December 23, 2018

The Minnesota Vikings all but secured their wild-card position for the upcoming playoffs after their 41-17 Week 15 victory over the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Coming into the game, the Vikings were 6-6-1 on the season with a home record of 4-2. Compared to the road record of the Dolphins, which was 1-5 coming into this matchup. For the Vikings, this was their first game with new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. It would be a litmus test to see how the offense would look in his first game as offensive coordinator.

U.S. Bank Stadium near full capacity for the Vikings home game against the Dolphins.
U.S. Bank Stadium near full capacity for the Vikings home game against the Dolphins. (Photo by Reagan Hoverman)

The Week 15 matchup had major playoff implications for the Vikings. However, the spotlight was on new offensive coordinator Stefanski. He took over play calling duties after former coordinator John DeFilippo was fired midway through his first season with the Vikings. Stefanski has been working with the Vikings organization since 2006 when he was brought on by former head coach Brad Childress. Prior to being promoted to offensive coordinator, he served in roles such as quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, and running Backs coach. All eyes would be on him in his first game calling plays.

The Vikings would receive the kickoff to start the game and immediately there was a sense of urgency on offense. Dalvin Cook became the centerpiece on the first drive. He totaled 32 yards rushing on the opening drive, which was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs from Kirk Cousins. Following a Dolphins punt on their first possession, the Vikings were back on the field and continued to get Cook involved in the ground game. Cook would account for half of the plays on the second drive, which would be finished off by a 13-yard touchdown run from Cook to put the Vikings up 14-0.

Through two possessions the offensive was flowing, and the Dolphins defense looked helpless as the Vikings marched up and down the field. Following a Dolphins punt, the Vikings would again return to the field, and once again score a touchdown. This time it was Latavius Murray on an 18-yard touchdown run to put the Vikings up 21-0.

The Vikings would never look back as they finished the game with a 41-17 victory. Cook was the driving force behind the victory, he finished the day with 136 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. This was the first time Cook had gone over 100 yards this season, it was also his first two rushing touchdowns of the season.

Cook had nothing but positive remarks about the new offensive coordinator, “He was dialing it up, I can tell you that. We know coach Stefanski, he’s not going to call plays scared because he just got the job. He’s going to go out there and have 100 percent trust in us.” The praise from Cook continued when asked about the tempo on offense, “It caught them off balance, we knew if we could get the ball, and get the jump on them, we could have some big plays out there.”

Dolphins players warming up an hour before kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Dolphins players warming up an hour before kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Photo by Reagan Hoverman)

Stefanski wasn’t the only member Cook was praising. Cook had positive remarks about the offensive line, “They opened holes that were too big, you all probably could have hit them holes. You got to give all the credit to those guys.”

The Vikings had one of their best showings of the year, putting up over 40 points, and over 400 yards for the first time this season. In Stefanski’s first game calling plays, it was their best offensive performance and the most points the Vikings have scored since their Teddy Bridgewater led 49-17 victory over the New York Giants in December of 2015. Vikings center, Pat Elflein talked about the offensive performance, “We had a very good sense of urgency and we were executing across the board.”

It was the total package for the Vikings. The offense, defense, and special teams all played at a high level for 60 minutes. It was a huge confidence boost for the team. Elflein continued on to say, “Just going out and doing our job, doing your job in general will give you confidence. So, I think we gained some today.”

The Vikings have their next game on Sunday, December 23rd at 12:00p.m. they look to move up to the number one wildcard position against the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit.

Reagan Hoverman is a student at UW-River Falls.