Football

Vikings slap down Patriots

Little did we know that the Patriots collected all their unused miscues from their previous three games and dumped the entire sack on the floor of the S.S. Bank Stadium.

Is there a Thanksgiving version of “Bah, humbug!”

If yes, swap it out here.

It’s tough to cite every Patriots’ misdeed, poor decision, or act of sheer sloppiness. That the Vikings won by one touchdown (and tacked-on PAT) was the evening’s best bit of misfortune.

For one annoyed observer, it was the penalties. Six of them produced 55 misplaced yards, were totally self-inflicted and betrayed a sense of slovenliness seldom seen since Bill Belichick began his reign.

Their impact could have been worse. But their existence was startling.

Also lost in defeat was the best offensive showing the Pats have had in recent memory. The span of recent memories varies from person-to-person, depending on their feelings toward Mac Jones and the defensive guru-turned-offensive-undergrad Matt Patricia.

Jones was patient and accurate. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns. If Jones does that every week the Patriots should be able to handle any team, on any field, at any time of year.

Then there was their defense, which was maddening, not to mention useless.

Minnesota did not shred the Patriots defense, they merely toyed with it with few wasted plays.

Kirk Cousins, generally thought of as a lifetime member of the low tier for NFL quarterbacks, was ready for prime time, Thanksgiving version.

He completed 30 of 37 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. He directed an offense that held the ball for 36:17.

Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell’s post-game locker room speech included an emphatic snarl at Cousins’ critics: “Last time I checked, that game started at 7:25. That makes it a prime-time football game. Your quarterback went 30 of 37 for 299 and three touchdowns.”

When ball control was needed, the Vikings strode through the Pats’ defense. The Vikings defense didn’t need to be unrelenting because it had lots of rest periods.

We should have seen this defensive debacle coming when every member of the NBC announcing crew, before and during the game, drowned it in superlatives.

Afterwards, the analysis focused on the Vikings’ resilience. After being humbled in a 40-3 thrashing by Dallas four nights earlier, Minnesota responded perfectly.

Buffalo visits Gillette Stadium next Thursday night.

We’ll see if resiliency is in their tool satchel.

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