The Vikings Have Flipped the Script Regarding a Crucial Statistic


Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) scores a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 and 2021 seasons were massive disappointments for the Minnesota Vikings following their playoff run in 2019. Over the past two seasons, the team combined for a record of 15-18, a winning percentage of about 45%. This is far below the team’s historical clip of 54% since the franchise’s start in 1961.

A major reason behind the Vikings lack of success, particularly in 2021, was found in a dirty statistic regarding the final two minutes of halves. They were historically bad during these four minutes of NFL games, allowing a ridiculous 128 points. This set an NFL record, and essentially, the Vikings guaranteed that their opponents would have an extra touchdown every game by doing this.

The craziest part about all of this is that if you took away these points that occurred during the pair of two-minute portions at the end of halves, or just under 7% of the game, we are looking at a completely different team. The 2021 Minnesota Vikings would have instantaneously transformed from an 8-9 team to a 13-4 had they not given up all these points at the end of halves.

The Vikings futility in these “end of half” situations had multiple factors between poor defense, inefficient clock management, and an offense with one of the worst third-down conversion rates in the NFL.

Going into 2022, the Vikings needed to at least turn into an average team at the end of halves if they had any chance at competing for the playoffs.

Through three games, the Vikings have given up a total of three points in these scenarios. These points came on a Jake Elliott field goal with 1:21 left in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In fact, a big reason why the Vikings were able to come back and win this past Sunday against the Detroit Lions laid in the fact that the Vikings controlled the final two minutes of each half. They won these four minutes of the game 14-0, scoring touchdowns at the end of each half. Dalvin Cook had a 4-yard score at the end of the first half to tie the score at 14. Then, K.J. Osborn caught a 28-yard pass from Kirk Cousins that he took into the end zone to give the Vikings their first lead of the game with 45 seconds left.

Overall, the Vikings are outscoring their opponents 21-3 in the final two minutes of halves through three weeks. The other seven points came on a 36-yard touchdown connection between Cousins and Justin Jefferson at the end of the first half against the Green Bay Packers.

Funny enough, if the Vikings keep this pace up, they will score 119 points in the final two minutes of halves. This rate is just a tad off if they want to completely flip the script and score as many points as they allowed in 2021 (128).

Even more interesting, Minnesota has had this type of production while still being one of the worst third-down offenses in the NFL. They are converting just 29.4% of their third downs so far in 2022, and that is the seventh worst in the league.

The Vikings are still a work-in-progress across many facets of the offensive side of the ball, and this is just one of them. If they can improve their ability to convert third downs, Minnesota could very well get even better at these “end-of-half” situations.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh can often be found training for a marathon, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken


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