2. Brian Flores - Defensive Coordinator
It is fair to criticize the play-calling on both sides of the ball for Minnesota. There were some questionable decisions that the coaches are deservedly getting their blame for, as nobody on the team is above being criticized after that loss.
However, Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores does deserve to have some of the heat taken off his shoulders.
While Flores' defense went soft in the fourth quarter and allowed for a Cincinnati comeback, let's not be too quick to turn on Minnesota's defensive coordinator after the stellar season he's been having in 2023.
Not only that, but on two of the Bengals' touchdown drives, Vikings defenders simply got outplayed, which is something Flores can't do for them.
On the one-yard rushing touchdown by Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon in the fourth quarter, standout Minnesota linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. was run over by Mixon on fourth down. If Pace made the tackle, that would have been a goal-line stand, and it would have become Minnesota's ball.
When Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins hauled in a miraculous touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans was too hesitant on the jump ball, which allowed Higgins to make the incredible play.
This is not to throw Pace and Evans under the bus, but those were plays that they easily should have made, and they would've wiped points off the board.
Flores has been great all season, and he has been working with a rag-tag group of players. It wasn't a great game, and he still deserves some criticism, but he's earned the right to have some heat taken off of him as well.