The Minnesota Vikings did everything they needed to do to win the game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills except actually win the game. After battling back and forth during the first half of the game, the Vikings were able to hang onto their 13-10 lead for the entire third quarter.
Then they were able to extend the lead by three more points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and held onto that lead until the Bills got the ball with 3:07 left to play and were able to drive down the field and score the game-winning touchdown.
“Just kind of discouraging,” said Jarius Wright about losing at the last second. “Our defense played so well yesterday and just to lose it in the last minute, its kind of, you know, discouraging a little bit.”
In many regards the defense did play a good game. They were able to sack Kyle Orton, Buffalo’s quarterback, six times; they produced four turnovers (one interception and three fumble recoveries), and held the opposition to 17 points for the second straight week.
The offense also saw improvements. They rushed for 158 yards, compared to just 69 the week before against the Detroit Lions, and they were able to score a touchdown when Teddy Bridgewater hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a 4-yard completion.
“We played real well – I wouldn’t say real well, but we played well yesterday and we played good enough to win,” said Wright. “Losing in the last couple seconds, it does hurt, but at the same time I do feel like we played good enough to win.”
The game ultimately got decided by things the Vikings have struggled with in the past reappearing.
Teddy Bridgewater threw two interceptions and was sacked five times, two of those sacks coming in the red zone in the fourth quarter. They were only able to convert on third down 31 percent of the time, only threw for 118 yards, and failed to gain a rushing touchdown.
The defense played well most of the game, but looked a lot like the 2013 Vikings defense that allowed teams to engineer game-winning or game-tying drives in the final minute of games five different times through the course of the season. The Bills’ game-winning drive consisted of a third-and-12 and a fourth-and-20 conversion, and was capped off by a 2-yard touchdown pass with one second left on the game clock.
“This week I was more frustrated because I felt like we had the opportunity to win,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “And we didn’t do the crucial things at the end of the ballgame to win.
“We did some great things, even during (the final drive), but we reverted back to some things that allow us not to win.”
After facing two stout defenses, the Vikings will travel to Tampa Bay next week where they will meet a defense that is last in the league with 34 points per game allowed, and last in the league with 422.8 yards per game allowed.
The Buccaneers offense is not fairing much better, only gaining 306.8 yards a game, which puts them at 30th in the league (one spot behind Minnesota).
Vikings were close, find loss ‘discouraging’
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