It was a day that had the makings of a new look for the Vikings, who have gone a long time since playing the role of a spoiler. All the elements were there Sunday and, if someone saw the stats without the final score, they wouldn't have believed the Vikings lost, 35-32.
"It's definitely frustrating," offensive tackle Charlie Johnson said. "To be so close in so many games this year and to come up short damn near every time, it gets frustrating. One thing I will say about this team is that we keep fighting. It would have been easy to shut it down five or six weeks ago and come out and not give our best effort. I feel like we give a great effort every week."
The numbers from Sunday's game were hard to understand because of their collective dominance. If it was just one number that made the difference, it would be understandable, but the litany of advantages the Vikings had bordered on the absurd given the final score. Consider the following:
The Vikings held the ball for just short of 38 minutes, while allowing Denver to control the ball for just 22:09.
Minnesota outgained Denver 489 yards to 336.
The Vikings ran a whopping 81 offensive plays. Denver ran just 49.
The Vikings completed twice as many passes (30) as Denver attempted (15).
The Vikings defense forced three fumbles, recovering two of them.
Denver's offense never got into the red zone until the Andre Goodman interception in the final minute-and-a-half allowed the Broncos the option to start their final drive inside the Vikings 20-yard line.
Christian Ponder had a career-high in passing yards (381).
Percy Harvin had a career high in receiving yards with 156.
Toby Gerhart had a career-best rushing day, carrying 21 times for 91 yards.
Yet, in the end, it didn't matter. Asked if he felt any better about getting more involved in the passing offense, Harvin said it didn't matter.
"We're still losing football games," Harvin said. "That's what counts. I'm not a big stats guy – never have, never will. We are losing football games."
For a team that came into Sunday's game at 2-9, it could have been easy to simply say they lost to the better team. Unfortunately, given the way the game played out, it appeared as though the better team didn't win Sunday, but it's getting more and more difficult to consider the Vikings the better team in just about any matchup in the 2011 season. The opponents change, but the song remains the same.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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