10 quick thoughts on the Vikings loss to the Rams in Week 16

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Anthony Barr
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Anthony Barr /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports) Alexander Mattison /

More quick thoughts from Minnesota’s loss to Los Angeles

Mattison fails to make up for the loss of Cook: Thanks to Dalvin Cook being placed on Minnesota’s Reserve/COVID-19 list, Alexander Mattison got the start at running back on Sunday against the Rams.

Mattison has done well when filling in for Cook in the past, including earlier this season. However, the Vikings running back only managed to rush for 41 yards and catch three passes for 29 yards in the loss to the Rams. Mattison did score a touchdown, but Minnesota needed more from him against Los Angeles than just 70 total yards.

Complimentary football fails Minnesota againJust when momentum seemed to be heading in the Vikings’ direction after a touchdown run by Mattison in the third quarter pulled them within three points of the Rams, Los Angeles responded by reaching the end zone with a 61-yard punt return by Brandon Powell.

That quickly deflated any confidence that Minnesota had been able to regain at that point and the touchdown made it really feel like there wasn’t going to be anything the Vikings could do to get a win on Sunday.

Barr gifts the Vikings opportunitiesWith the offense struggling to get points, Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr was able to get his hands on two interceptions on Sunday that put the Vikings within 12 yards of the end zone. Thanks to the tremendous effort of Barr, Minnesota was able to turn those two turnovers into 10 points.

Pass defense much better without Breeland: In addition to the two interceptions Barr had on Sunday, Vikings safety Xavier Woods also came up with a pick early in the third quarter. Overall, Minnesota’s pass defense has shown a lot of improvement since the decision to part ways with starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland two weeks ago.

In their last two games, the Vikings are allowing a completion rate of 61.8 percent, 6.3 yards per attempt, and opposing quarterbacks have a combined 72.4 passer rating against them.