Sat Jan 11 9:32pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) intercepts a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith (84) sits on the bench with teammates during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 27-10. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) stands on the sideline during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, center, during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive back Emmanuel Moseley (41) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The offensive formula for the Minnesota Vikings has been fairly simple this season. Establish the run with Dalvin Cook to set up some play-action deep shots for Kirk Cousins.
With Cook unable to get anything going on the ground against San Francisco, the Vikings had no chance against a healthy 49ers defense and lost the divisional round playoff game 27-10 on Saturday.
''We were just not really able to get in a rhythm so they were able to sit back and do what they do,'' Cook said. ''We just never got a rhythm and they were able to fly around and make plays.''
Cook got the ball 15 times on the day and was held to only 26 yards, gaining 18 yards on nine carries and 8 on six catches. It's a far cry from the season when he gained 1,654 yards in just 14 games to power the offense.
That's the kind of day it was for the Vikings (11-7) on offense as they were held to 81 yards and four first downs on their first nine drives of the game before padding the numbers a bit on two meaningless drives at the end.
In fact, over those nine drives the Vikings gained more yards on a 41-yard TD pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs in the second quarter than they did on their other 32 plays as the run game never got going and Cousins was under constant pressure.
''They got a lot of edge rushers,'' Diggs said. ''Edge rushers and they defend the run really well. The guys they got on their front seven are very active. They just start with their D-linemen, and that's where it all starts.''
The Vikings were hoping to build on last week's 26-20 overtime victory at New Orleans and win multiple playoff games in the same season for the first time since 1987 when they went on the road and upset the Saints and 49ers in the first two rounds.
That pattern didn't repeat this year even though Minnesota kept it close in the first half thanks in part to the one big pass from Cousins to Diggs.
Then with a chance to tie the game late in the half after Eric Kendricks intercepted a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to set Minnesota up at the San Francisco 29, things began to fall apart.
Cousins completed a pass to Adam Thielen to give the Vikings a first down at the 16. But Cook was hit for a 1-yard loss, Cousins threw an incompletion to Diggs and then was sacked on third down by Dee Ford. A field goal cut the lead to 14-10 and San Francisco pulled away in the second half.
The Niners got a field goal to start the third quarter and then Richard Sherman anticipated the route by Thielen and intercepted Cousins.
''It was completely my fault,'' Thielen said. ''I didn't cross his face and obviously he trusted me to win on that route and make a play on the ball. I didn't do that.''
Eight straight runs led to another touchdown and the Vikings never had a chance from there against a defense that was back to its early season form when San Francisco got off to an 8-0 start.
Cousins finished 21 for 29 for 172 yards but was also sacked six times.
''We knew what we would be facing,'' Cousins said. ''We knew they were the No. 1 seed with a bye and home-field advantage. You earn that, and you're a good team. You can look at a lot of their statistical numbers on defense. They've proven that they're a good front, a good defense and a good team.''
The Vikings once again proved they don't have quite enough to make a long playoff run. They have had success in six seasons under coach Mike Zimmer with four winning records and three playoff berths.
But they haven't made it to the Super Bowl since the 1976 season when they lost the championship game for the fourth time in a span of eight seasons.
''There's so many ups and downs throughout the course of it,'' ZImmer said. ''I know that I'm proud of this football team. The way they competed and worked and did all the things that they had to do throughout the course of the year. It's unfortunate we didn't play better today. It's not a good day to reminisce.''
Interview with a Champ
Free-agent CB Tramon Williams (Ravens) worked out for the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, Jan. 20, and is expected to sign to either the practice squad or the 53-man roster.
Cleveland Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi said he'll assess his options in free agency as it's unknown if he'll return to the Browns. 'When I go into training this offseason, just kind of figure out what fits best for me and then obviously when you get into March, you figure out where the team wants you as, what they see you as and what role they want you to play here or somewhere else,' Ogunjobi said Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (quadriceps) and wide receivers Mike Evans (knee) and Chris Godwin (quadriceps) were all limited participants during Wednesday's practice. Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion last week before ultimately suiting up against the Saints, while Evans' and Godwin's reps are being managed as precautions. Jones has a good matchup against Green Bay's front, though he and Leonard Fournette are trending towards a timeshare after head coach Bruce Arians described them as a "1-2 punch." Meanwhile, Evans will likely tango with star corner Jaire Alexander on the outside, as tough a matchup as any. Godwin is due for a rebound performance after dropping a surefire touchdown last week and could see more targets if Evans struggles and Antonio Brown (knee) is banged up.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is wanted on a long-term contract, according to head coach John Harbaugh Wednesday, Jan. 20. 'Absolutely, we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal and be with us,' Harbaugh said. 'I'm totally certain that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details.'
Fantasy Spin: Harbaugh also said they aren't going to adjust the offense to be more pass-heavy. So long as Jackson is healthy, he'll be a top fantasy QB for the foreseeable future due to his added production on the ground.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps) said Wednesday, Jan. 20, he already feels better than last week and he's all good for the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) was listed as a non-participant for Wednesday's practice. Brown sustained the knee injury during the divisional-round win over the Saints, with Tampa Bay officially listing him as day-to-day. The veteran wideout will look to ramp up his activity during Thursday and Friday's sessions to give him a chance at suiting up against Green Bay in the NFC title game. Fellow wideouts Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson- who both made big plays in the victory over New Orleans- would be in line to receive more targets if Brown isn't healthy enough to play.
Philadelphia Eagles DB Nickell Robey-Coleman was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jordan Wilkins was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Green Bay Packers LB Krys Barnes (thumb), PK Mason Crosby (shoulder), RB AJ Dillon (quadriceps), DL Kingsley Keke (concussion), TE Marcedes Lewis (knee), LB Za'Darius Smith (thumb), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee, ankle), OT Ricky Wagner (knee) and RB Jamaal Williams (ankle) were limited at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. S Will Redmond (knee) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hip, quadriceps) was limited at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Godwin caught four of seven targets but for just 34 yards against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round. The Buccaneers' passing game wasn't needed much as Tampa Bay operated from favorable field position for much of the game. Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown should all see more work against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. Godwin is likely to see the most targets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (finger, calf) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Jones ran 13 times for 62 yards against the New Orleans Saints last week after being considered questionable for most of the practice week. He should be more involved this week, but the game script isn't likely to be as favorable for the Bucs as it was in the NFC Divisional Round. Jones will be a touchdown-dependent fantasy FLEX option this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. S Jordan Whitehead (knee) and CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps, ankle) were limited. DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) and G Ali Marpet (pectoral) practiced in full.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown (knee) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Brown is expected to be fine in time for Sunday's NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. He'll represent a contrarian pivot from either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Evans didn't practice much last week and was targeted just three times in the NFC Divisional Round game against the New Orleans Saints. His day was saved by a three-yard touchdown catch, but it was his only reception. He should be more involved in the NFC Championship with another week of recovery under his belt.
Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs (oblique) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Diggs has posted at least 100 yards in five of his last six games and is a must-start fantasy option if he is active for the game.
Buffalo Bills DT Vernon Butler (quadriceps) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. QB Jake Fromm (non-injury) and DT Quinton Jefferson (ankle) were limited during practice. PK Tyler Bass (hand), LB Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring) and DE Darryl X. Johnson (knee) fully participated in practice.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (oblique) remains on the injury report and was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Diggs has been battling an oblique injury late this season, but it hasn't really slowed him down at all. The NFL's leader in receptions and receiving yards in 2020, the 27-year-old has 14 catches on 20 targets for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the team's two playoff tilts against the Colts and Ravens this year. Diggs was able to haul in six of his eight targets for 46 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting with the Chiefs back in Week 6 in a 26-17 loss. With quarterback Josh Allen having a breakout season under center, Diggs has been one of the most valuable fantasy wideouts this season, and that shouldn't change in the AFC Championship this Sunday.
Updating a previous report, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (concussion, toe) is now listed as limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 20. He was initially listed as a full participant Wednesday.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes is going through the concussion protocol but may be able to do more during practice over the next few days. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy and should be a starting option if he is active.
Buffalo Bills rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis (ankle) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (quadriceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. Davis injured his ankle in the Divisional Round win over the Ravens last Saturday night. As of right now, the impressive 21-year-old should be considered questionable to play against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday, but keep an eye on his practice status through the rest of the week. He was unable to haul in any of his four targets against Baltimore's defense last week after going for four catches and 85 yards in the wild-card win over Indianapolis the week prior. He's hard to trust for consistent production behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. If Davis can't play this weekend, Isaiah McKenzie could see an expanded role.