Let the Minnesota newspaper talk about the San Francisco 49ers overwhelming playoff win made possible by a relentless ground attack.
Next stop. NFC championship game against either Green Bay or Seattle next Sunday afternoon.
Minneapolis Star Tribune 1.11.2020
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Vikings’ season ended at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday, with a defeat so resounding that it dulled the euphoria of a last-second playoff win over the Saints for the second time in three years.
But where their 38-7 loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game two years ago felt like they’d been felled by a lightning strike, their 27-10 loss to the 49ers in the NFC divisional playoffs on Saturday saw the Vikings pummeled by an opponent that was methodical, unrelenting and, in the end, unquestionably superior.
Were the Vikings drained playing six days after an emotional wild-card win over the Saints (or physically depleted from a grueling season’s worth of games and practices)? Were they simply outclassed by the speed and ferocity of a 49ers defense that had answers for them at practically every turn?
Answering those questions will now be the offseason task of a regime that has reached the playoffs three times in five years — and made its case for stability after beating the 13-3 Saints on the road on Sunday — but as the season ended in San Francisco, what stood out most was perhaps the size of the gap between the Vikings and the team that will host the NFC Championship Game next Sunday.
The Vikings managed only seven first downs, running for just 21 — and no first downs — yards against a defense that beat the Vikings at the point of the attack and used fast linebackers to close off angles. It left Kirk Cousins vulnerable to San Francisco’s pass rush as he worked to convert third-and-longs, and aside from a deep ball that Stefon Diggs turned into a 41-yard touchdown, the quarterback appeared out of phase with his top two receivers at critical moments.
He misfired on a throw near the goal line for Diggs late in the second half, in what turned out to be the Vikings’ last decent chance to tie the game. With the Vikings down 17-10 in the second half, Richard Sherman intercepted a pass that Adam Thielen didn’t appear to be in position to catch.