On a night full of back-and-forth moments, it was the Rams who kept scoring and came out on top. The Vikings pulled the trigger first as Kirk Cousins fired a pass to a leaping Aldrick Robinson in the back of the end zone to put the Vikings up 7-0. But the Rams answered quickly and would continue answering as Jared Goff picked apart the Vikings defense (and Anthony Barr especially) all night long.
The result was the Vikings falling to a disappointing 1-2-1 record on their way to facing the defending Super Bowl champs next week, whereas the Rams look like possibly the best team in the NFL and now sit at 4-0 for the first time since 2001—when Kurt Warner was throwing passes and Marshall Faulk was pounding the rock.
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2018
As one of the staples of the Vikings defense, and linebacker Anthony Barr needs to step his game up in a major way, or else it will be him looking at everyone else once the season is done saying, “I’m sorry”. Barr first got burned by Todd Gurley running a fly-route out of the backfield which tied the game at 7. Perhaps an excusable play considering Gurley is probably one of the top five most talented players in the entire NFL.
But then Barr preceded to let his team lose the lead again as the Vikings later went up 10-7 courtesy of a field goal, only to find themselves down 14-10 because Barr got absolutely fucking smoked again by white-ass blonde motherfuckin Cooper Kupp who barely runs a sub-4.7 forty. Barr later let up another TD from 31 yards out to Rams receiver Robert Woods.
Keep in mind, this all comes just one week after Barr got embarrassed by a hurdle and a stiff arm from Bills QB Josh Allen. As a fifth-year player trying to get a new contract, Barr’s sudden decline could not happen at a worse time for him.
Yep. @JoshAllenQB is out here hurdling defenders 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2018
Anthony Barr does not deserve all the blame for the ineffective play of the Vikings defense as cornerback Trae Waynes was atrocious the entire game. Waynes let up two touchdowns of his own in the first half despite being in a position to make a play on the ball in both cases. First, Waynes let up another Kupp TD while he was in double coverage with Mike Hughes as Waynes’ entire defensive effort on the play consisted of him lazily extending his arm for 0.5 seconds while he watched the ball float into Kupp’s hands. Look at what I’m talking about here:
.@JaredGoff16 droppin' DIMES.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 28, 2018
Rams receiver Brandin Cooks later torched Waynes again just before the start of the second half, and while Goff did throw an almost perfect pass on the play, Waynes was draped all over Cooks and was still unable to make a play on the ball. Waynes later left the game with a concussion as the Vikings were without their starting corners towards the end of the game due to Xavier Rhodes later exiting with an injury of his own.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 28, 2018
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer ripped the secondary after the game and noted, “We’ve never been, probably anywhere I’ve ever been, this poor in pass coverage”. After ranking second in the league against the pass in 2017, the Vikings currently rank 26th through the first four games of 2018. Last year, the Vikings averaged just 6.0 yards allowed per pass play. This year their average is 9.2 which ranks 31st in the league. Additionally, the Vikings have allowed an average of 27.5 points per game which ranks 22nd in 2018.
Obviously though, the blame does not rest solely on the Vikings’ shoulders. Jared Goff outdueled Kirk Cousins and forced the Vikings to defend every blade of grass as he chucked dimes all over the field. Goff fed his entire receiving corps as he finished the night with 465 yards and five touchdowns that went to four different receivers on his way to a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Kupp, Cooks, Robert Woods, and Gurley all had productive nights as a result.
Kupp finished with nine grabs for 162 yards and 2 TDs, Cooks had seven catches of his own for 116 yards and a TD, Woods had five catches for 101 yards and a TD, and Gurley finished with 73 yards and a TD on four catches in addition to 83 rushing yards on just 17 carries. With his impressive performance, Goff became one of only five QBs in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards and five TDs with no interceptions in a game. The other QBs were Big Ben, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, and Y.A. Tittle for the Giants back in the day.
While Goff has been playing pretty much lights out since the Sean McVay hire, Todd Gurley is undoubtedly the stud that makes this team go. Gurley has 41 total TDs since entering the league in 2015—which is the most in the NFL in terms of non QBs. Gurley also has the most total TDs since 2016 (31), 2017 (25), and currently has the most TDs of any non-QB in 2018 as he already has six on the season.
Not all is lost for the Vikings however, and Vikings fans should have at least a few positive takeaways from the contest. Namely, Kirk Cousins continues to prove the Vikings made the correct decision with him. Cousins threw for 422 yards with 3 TDs and no picks in addition to being the team’s leading rusher with 28 yards on just 4 rushes.
The Vikings receiving corps continue to impress as well as Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen both continued their dominance. Thielen finished with 135 yards and a TD on 8 catches while Diggs had 11 catches for 123 yards of his own. Furthermore, the seven-point margin the Vikings lost by is actually the closest any team has come to beating the Rams in 2018.
The Vikings look to bounce back next week against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, while the Rams look to continue their dominance against a divisional foe in the Seattle Seahawks.