Vikings Get No Payoff From Free Plays

Photo: Vikings vs Broncos
Vikings vs Broncos at US Bank Stadium

Free Play? Naw.

How is it that the Vikings never take advantage of free plays?

To be clear, a free play can occur during these situations:

  • Encroachment: A defender crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped, and no offensive player moves as a result of the defender’s movement. This is encroachment and a penalty is not imposed until the play ends, thus the team with possession can complete the play and then decide whether or not to accept the penalty.
  • Offsides: A defensive player lines up with some part of his body crossing the neutral zone at the time the ball is snapped. This penalty, too, is not enforced until the play is completed.

The Vikings had an opportunity against the Cowboys but it appeared no receivers ran deep on the play. Which made me question if the team even has a plan for such scenarios.

God knows, we rarely get those chances. It’s not like we’re the Packers.

That wasn’t the case, however, against Denver when both receivers went deep. Kirk Cousins even looked deep but decided to check down to C.J. Ham.

Cousins was looking at Diggs and though he ran past his defender, the Broncos safety was drifting into the play.

That might explain why Cousins didn’t pull the trigger but even so, why not?

It’s plausible one of the league’s best receivers at prevailing in contested catches would come down with the ball despite the double team. It’s also plausible that Diggs could’ve drawn a pass interference penalty, resulting in a huge gain.

Instead, we got minus yards on the checkdown and settled for the offsides penalty.

Missed opportunity.