Key Coaching Decision #1: (MIN ball, score tied 7-7 / fourth-and-1 at LAR 29 / 12:21 2Q)
• The Vikings decide to go for it. They run a quarterback sneak with Kirk Cousins for 2 yards to sustain the drive. The drive ended with a Dan Bailey field goal to make the score 10-7 Vikings. Mike Zimmer had a sense the game was going to be high scoring so he wanted to stay aggressive with his play calling.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (MIN ball, trailing 28-17 / fourth-and-1 at LAR 36 / 0:30 2Q)
• The Vikings decide to again go for the first down and run another QB sneak with Cousins. They get 2 yards to move the chains and keep the drive alive. Our sense is that Zimmer felt the game slipping away and needed to try to get some points before halftime. On the next play Cousins completed a 13-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph to the Rams 21-yard line with 22 seconds left on the clock. Instead of hurrying to the line and killing the clock the Vikings ran a play and ended up having to call a timeout with six seconds left. The Vikings should have had a few shots at the end zone but settled for a field goal to make the score 28-20.
Key Coaching Decision #3: (LAR ball, leading 28-20 / fourth-and-10 at MIN 36 / 11:03 3Q)
• The Rams line up to punt, but it’s a fake. Punter Johnny Hekker throws a deep pass to the end zone for Josh Reynolds that falls incomplete. They could have attempted a 54-yard field but decided on the fake punt. This decision could have resulted in a huge momentum swing but the Vikings could not move the ball into scoring range.
• The Vikings are a different offense when Dalvin Cook is in the ball game. He brings explosive ability that the other backs on the Vikings roster cannot match consistently.
• Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs both had monster games for the Vikings. The Rams’ banged-up secondary had trouble containing the duo for the majority of the game.
• Sean McVay’s ability to create mismatches for his offense was on full display Thursday night. He was able to create opportunities for his slot receivers and running backs all night long. McVay’s scheme contributed to the massive game by Cooper Kupp, who was routinely covered by a Minnesota linebacker. It was a brilliant game plan by McVay.
• The Rams only ran the ball 20 times but they were very efficient, which created great opportunities for play-action passes behind the Viking linebackers.
• The development of Jared Goff over the past two years has been truly remarkable. Goff struggled all of his rookie year but has matured into an MVP candidate this season.