4. Linval Joseph is a freak of nature up front, helping Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr have huge days.
It’s no secret that the ‘Big Goon’ is an absolute difference maker up front. I mean, the whole unit could be described as that with the likes of Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Tom Johnson and Brian Robison accompanying him.
Yet, Joseph has been the key cog to a Minnesota defense that ranks third in rushing defense. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had 18 run stops, leading the NFL among defensive linemen. He also added three more against the Ravens, giving him 21 total.
Unquestionably, the push the Vikings have got from the big man has given the linebackers opportunities to make plays. This was clearly evident as Kendricks and Barr led the way with 13 and 11 tackles, respectively, against Baltimore. They also combined for six tackles for loss, an amazing number against the league’s sixth ranked rushing offense.
Bottomline, the linebackers don’t have that kind of success without Joseph and the defensive tackle was rewarded with a team-high 91.5 PFF rating. There’s no question Joseph is playing at an All-Pro level and is arguably the best tackle in the game.
5. Kai Forbath was the difference maker, a good sign for his status moving forward.
Forbath made six field goals for 18 points, which would have been enough for a Vikings victory even without the Murray touchdown run. Essentially, he carried the team to a win and regardless of missing his sixth extra point as a member of the Vikings, he likely sealed his status as the kicker for the forseeable future.
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Not that his job was on the line, but any time a kicker goes 6-for-6, including a pair of 50-yard field goal makes, there’s a good chance that confidence carries into next week and hopefully, beyond.
Unlike any other position, kicker is as much, if not more, mental as it is physical. No team other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knows that better than the Vikings. So, ideally, Forbath builds on this stellar performance, remaining confident in all his attempts. In the end, that’ll ensure he remains on the team for the rest of the season.
Sure, the missed extra points are a concern, but the six field goals are more than enough to make up for that. At least, this time around.
Next week, Minnesota heads to London to play the Cleveland Browns. This should be the easiest win of the season… knock on wood. Check back throughout the week for the latest Vikings news and opinion leading up to Sunday’s game!