The Minnesota Vikings’ magical run of close wins last season helped me forget about the essential, ongoing truth of Vikings football: when in doubt, the Vikings will do dumb-guy stuff.

Kirk Cousins throwing an interception at the goal line and fumbling the football twice definitely qualifies, but the most dumb-guy thing of all belongs to third-string safety Jay Ward. After Minnesota had finally stopped Tampa’s second-half-opening drive, forcing a field goal after the Bucs had run 14 plays, Ward somehow lined up offside on the field-goal attempt - gifting the visitors first-and-goal, which they turned into seven points.

Lining up offside on a field-goal attempt is pure, uncut dumb-guy stuff.

The Vikings outgained Tampa 369-242, including Cousins throwing for 344 yards - 273 of them in the first half. But thanks to the three turnovers, Minnesota could only turn that into 17 points, and Cousins got outdueled by Baker Mayfield in the second half.

Nothing about this is not disappointing, of course, but maybe it shouldn’t be surprising. Minnesota built up a huge backlog of un-done dumb-guy stuff last season, and now they just have to work their way through it. I look forward to next week, when they miss three extra points and two field goals, plus have 12 guys on the field for a punt return to extend an eventual opposition touchdown drive.

Minnesota United FC didn’t make it into the winners’ circle either on Saturday night, but you’d never have been able to tell from the post-game mood in the locker room. Scoring with the last kick of the match will do that.

I covered the game for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and that game story is here, so I won’t go through everything again. A quick recap: the Loons had 27 shots and 15 corners, but didn’t score until one last corner kick, when goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair came forward and ended up poking a pass to Franco Fragapane, who buried a shot to save a draw.

It’s hard to get much more drama than that, and the mood at Allianz Field was jubilant.

That said, it’s worthy of note that drawing at home against New England, a team that hasn’t won on the road since early June, isn’t much of an accomplishment - especially since Minnesota now has taken just 17 of 39 possible points at home this year. Saturday’s game was their eighth draw at home, seven of which have been 1-1.

The Loons have been fine on the road, but something about being at home - and having to possess the ball, and be the protagonists in the match, and work against a compact defense instead of on the counter-attack - gives them major trouble.

I fear that we have seen the future for the Minnesota Twins, because you can imagine a playoff game going just like this one.

Pablo López threw one of the games of his life - allowing no runs, two hits, and no walks in eight innings against the New York Mets, and striking out 14 - but the Twins lost to the Mets 2-0, because they managed only four hits, and Griffin Jax got blown up in the ninth inning.

The Twins had 10 baserunners in the game, but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and 0-for-15 with runners on base, so the real culprits in this one were the guys with the bats in their hands, even if Jax is the obvious scapegoat.

López has 213 strikeouts this year, the first 200-strikeout season of his career, and has thrown 178 innings this year.

Cleveland lost both of its games over the weekend, so the Twins are now seven and a half games ahead, with 19 left to go. The Twins have 75 wins right now, and it would not be entirely surprising if that is already enough wins to win the AL Central. I’ve been saying for weeks that reaching 81 wins is the real milestone; the Guardians would have to go 13-5 to even get there, which seems unlikely.

As Aaron Gleeman pointed out, the Twins are closer to the #2 seed in the playoffs - six and a half back of the West-leading Astros - than they are to the Guardians.

Speaking of things that are over, the St. Paul Saints lost twice in Louisville over the weekend - 4-3 and 3-2 - and that might well wrap it up for their chances at winning the International League second-half title. St. Paul’s now four games back in the standings with 12 games to go, and there are three teams ahead of them; even if they won 12 in a row, I’m not sure they’d be able to close that gap.

Bailey Ober finally made a start for the Saints, allowing a run on three hits in five innings on Saturday. The bullpen had a rough weekend, though, including blowing Sunday’s game in the ninth inning, and then allowing the Bats to win in the 10th.

The Gophers got a second win of the year on Saturday, 25-6 against Eastern Michigan, and I’m not sure that beating Eastern Michigan really proves anything one way or the other. Minnesota did run for 296 yards, 193 for Darius Taylor and 93 for Sean Tyler, and that was nice to see a week after they got entirely stuffed by Nebraska.

Minnesota outgained EMU 413-152, and didn’t punt once in the game; that they only managed 25 points is kind of disappointing. The Gophers defense forced a safety and held EMU to a total of four yards in the second half.

Next week, the U travels to North Carolina, for one of the bigger nonconference games they’ve had in the last few years. UNC needed double overtime to beat Appalachian State at home this week, so the Gophers may well have a chance in this one.

The last week for the Minnesota Lynx doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Minnesota closed its regular season with a loss at Indiana, one of the four terrible teams that didn’t make the WNBA playoffs this year - and even worse, it wasn’t close, a 15-point drubbing.

All of the team’s worst tendencies were there. Giving up a ton of points, check. Getting nothing from their bench (eight points total), check. One entirely terrible quarter (they scored nine points in the fourth), check.

The Lynx close the year with a losing record (19-21), and the third-worst net rating in the league. Looking across the advanced stats, Minnesota is in the bottom half or bottom four in so many different categories - they can’t shoot, prevent their opponents from making their shots, or rebound all that well on either end of the floor - that it seems like an absolute miracle that they’re not only in the playoffs, but the sixth seed.

Minnesota is the #6 seed for the WNBA playoffs, taking on Connecticut. They haven’t announced the playoff schedule yet, but winning one of the games in Connecticut - and bringing the series back to Minnesota for a decisive game three - would be a pretty good accomplishment.


TWINS vs Tampa Bay, 6:40pm


SAINTS at Iowa, Tuesday
VIKINGS at Philadelphia, Thursday
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs High Point, Thursday
LOONS vs Sporting KC, Saturday GOPHER FOOTBALL at North Carolina, Saturday