The season of the Vikings' discontent reached a new level of frustration. They were three feet away from a comeback victory that seemed as improbable as any, given that the Vikings had spotted the Lions a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and it appeared the beatdown was on.
However, while Vikings made a solid comeback behind Joe Webb, it was just the latest chapter in a regrettable 2011 season. The Vikings keep losing, but they aren't getting beaten down.
Sunday marked the eighth time this season that the Vikings have lost a game by seven points or fewer – by far the most in the NFL. It happened in each of their first four losses – blowing double-digit leads in losses to San Diego, Tampa Bay and Detroit to start the season, followed up by a 22-17 loss at Kansas City in which the Vikings led at halftime, but fizzled in the second half.
After getting blown out by Chicago, the Vikings came back to give the Packers a better fight than most have this year, losing 33-27. Next came losses to Oakland, in which the Vikings rallied in the second half and had the ball in an almost identical situation as they had Sunday – down by six points with the ball and the game on the line. They were unable to get the needed points, but were in the game.
Last week, the Vikings added to the cult status of Tim Tebow by blowing an eight-point lead and a three-point lead in the final nine minutes, with a critical interception in the final two minutes providing the opportunity for the game-winning field goal.
This time, it was a fumble coming within a second of an uncalled facemask penalty as the Vikings were a mere three feet away from winning the game.
"(We) just couldn't get it done on that final play. The way our guys are fighting every week, I told them after the game, just extremely proud of the effort that they gave," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "I know it's not a lot of solace when you don't win because you're evaluated on wins and losses in our league. But there was nothing in that first quarter that would have told you told that they would have fought the way they did fight to get us back in that game again to have a chance to win the fourth quarter. Just a tough loss, and we've had some tough losses."
As it stands, the Vikings sit at 2-11 and, as always, the buzz phrase remains the same – "we have to finish games." They have had opportunities to win eight of the 11 games in which they've lost. If they win just half of those games, they would be at 6-7 – not great, but still enough to be on playoff life support. Instead, they're 2-11 and staring down the second pick of next April's draft.
There is no solace in being in games and losing, but the Vikings clearly aren't as bad as their record indicates. But, of all the stats the NFL keeps, the only one that matters is wins and losses and, by that standard, the Vikings are 2-11 and better than only hapless Indianapolis.
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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