Sharrif Floyd and the Minnesota Vikings’ defense didn’t get Kyle Orton and Buffalo Bills off the field until it was too late.
With a second remaining in the game, to be exact.
What began as a dominating defensive effort for Minnesota, ended in frustration after Orton hit rookie receiver Sammy Watkins for a 2-yard touchdown catch with 1 second remaining in Buffalo’s 17-16 win on Sunday.
“There are no words that can describe this loss,” Floyd said. “It’s the last play of the game. I got nothing to say about that except it hurts.”
Rather than celebrating a stout performance in which Minnesota forced four turnovers and had six sacks, the Vikings (2-5) instead lamented a third straight loss.
“We gotta finish,” added Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. “We are a team so we gotta finish each and every play, and finish strong.”
The Vikings had their chances.
Up 16-10 when Buffalo (4-3) got the ball at its 20 with 3:07 to play, Minnesota allowed Orton to lead a 15-play drive in which the Bills picked up five first downs.
Orton had a 24-yard pass over the middle to tight end Scott Chandler on fourth-and-20.
Three plays later, Orton hit Watkins on a crossing pattern for an 18-yard gain on third-and-12.
And Orton set up the decisive score by threading a 28-yard pass to Chris Hogan at 2 along the left sideline.
“That hurt,” Griffen said. “Everything hurt. The touchdown, fourth-and-20, everything hurt. We just gotta finish better, man. That’s all I gotta say.”
Minnesota’s offense also lacked finish in rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s third career start, and first on the road.
Bridgewater went 15 of 26 for 157 yards with a 4-yard touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson and two interceptions.
The trouble was Minnesota settled for three field goals by Blair Walsh on four other drives inside the Bills 40.
That included Walsh’s third of the game, a 33-yarder 3:15 into the fourth quarter. It came after the Vikings went backward after a first-and-goal at the Buffalo 7.
On first down, Bridgewater was sacked for a 7-yard loss by Jerry Hughes. He was sacked again on the next play for a 9-yard loss by Marcell Dareus.
The Bills finished with five sacks and Leodis McKelvin had two interceptions.
“I was overthinking things,” Bridgewater said. “But as the game went on we found some consistency. There are going to be areas I can improve on to get the ball down the field and eliminate my negative plays.”
Jerick McKinnon had 103 yards rushing.
The Vikings lost two starting offensive lineman. Center John Sullivan did not return after sustaining a concussion. Guard Vladimir Ducasse hurt his knee.
Orton shook off an interception and a lost fumble by going 31 of 43 for 283 yards and two touchdowns — both to Watkins, who finished with nine catches for 122 yards.
Orton improved to 2-1 since replacing second-year starter E.J. Manuel.
Both of Orton’s wins have come in the final seconds. He won his first start three weeks ago by helping set up Dan Carpenter’s 58-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in a 17-14 win at Detroit.
Watkins became the first Bills rookie receiver to have two 100-yard receiving games since 2004, and was beaming after his game-winning score.
Buffalo snapped a two-game home losing streak, improved to 3-0 this season against NFC North opponents and withstood injuries to running backs Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (left shoulder) in the first half.
Vikings lament the last-second loss
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