If you're a Vikings fan, you probably watched most of Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Bengals through an alternating lens of anger and despair.
The penalties started almost immediately. The end of the first half was atrocious. The offensive line remains a big problem. And the end of the game, just when you started to believe, was another punch in the gut.
But I'm going to put on my optimist hat for just a moment and point out a few things that actually went right in that game, even if it runs contrary to every social media instinct we all have.
1 The kicking game held up, and in fact thrived.
One of my biggest questions coming into the season was special teams. After last year's dismal placekicking, punting and coverage units likely cost the Vikings a playoff spot, there didn't seem to be much to like going into the year.
The Vikings went with barely tested kicker Greg Joseph. They switched their punter/holder just before the season started to Jordan Berry, which in theory was an upgrade but also was a threat to disrupt continuity.
But at Cincinnati, special teams almost won the game for the Vikings. Joseph made all three extra points, and then more importantly was perfect on a game-tying 53-yard field goal at the end of regulation. He actually made it twice, but a timeout wiped out the first. Didn't you think after that he would miss for sure? But he didn't.
Berry had a couple of mediocre punts early, but he finished with a 50-yard average and in overtime he boomed a 63-yard punt with no return. That flipped field position after the Vikings went three-and-out, from the Vikings' 27 all the way to the Bengals' 10.
Cincinnati went three-and-out on its next possession, setting Minnesota up with good field position it might have cashed in on if not for the game-changing Dalvin Cook fumble.
2 Kirk Cousins led a crunch time drive.
The Vikings were dismal in late-game situations last season, with a failure against Tennessee that still sticks out. But on Sunday, Kirk Cousins did enough — just enough, but enough — to rally the Vikings and get them to overtime with a had-to-have-it drive at the end of regulation.
Starting at his own 5 with no timeouts and just under 2 minutes left, Cousins drove the Vikings 60 yards in 1:48 — including a critical 4th down pickup to K.J. Osborn and a final pass to Adam Thielen to get into range for Joseph's game-tying kick.
3 The revamped defense showed some encouraging signs.
The Bengals got going late in the first half and early in the second half, but overall the Vikings defense allowed 27 points on a whopping 13 total drives.
That's 2.08 points per drive, which would have been No. 12 in the NFL last season.
The offense sputtered enough for the Vikings to give the Bengals ample opportunities, but the Vikings were often up to the challenge. With more offensive help, the Vikings should be able to keep opponents off the board this season.
Big questions certainly remain, especially as the Vikings prepare for a challenge against Arizona. Were all the penalties an anomaly? Will the offensive line get better? Will defensive depth be a problem? Are the things that went well in Week 1 going to hold up during the year?
But we shouldn't forget that for as poorly as the Vikings played in a lot of phases Sunday, they could have won a road game. I'll at least wait a few more weeks before I write off the whole season.