At New England
4:25 p.m. ET
Key Coaching Decision #1: (NE ball, leading 10-0 / second-and-5, NE 22 / 2:34 Q2)
• Tom Brady completed a short pass to Rob Gronkowski on this play and officials ruled it a first down. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer decided to challenge the spot. We generally are not fans of challenging spot plays, but in this case, Zimmer won the challenge and forced a third-and-1 situation. The Vikings ultimately stuffed that play, took possession after a punt and marched down the field for a touchdown and a 10-7 halftime deficit. Zimmer’s challenge clearly changed momentum and kept his team in the game.
• The Vikings offensive line has been taking a lot of criticism over the last few years, but in this game they did a very good job of holding up against Patriots blitzes. Alternatively, it is fairly clear that the Patriots struggle to get any kind of pressure on the quarterback rushing only four players. We feel that in order for the Patriots to advance deep into the playoffs, they will have to get more effective rushing the passer.
• While the Vikings lost, they did come into this game shorthanded, particularly in the secondary. Nevertheless, head coach Mike Zimmer and his staff did a very good job of preparing their available players.
• Patriots rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson is developing into a Dependable player. He has excellent size and is a physical and competitive player. The more he develops, the more it allows the Patriots defensive front more time to get to the quarterback. Not many fans know his name, but we see him as a key player on the Patriots defense.