Vikings swallow loss; Miami saves its coach

The Dolphins felt great about their win while all three phases of the Vikings struggled at critical times.

Your thoughts after Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins would make it easy to tell your team. Some thought it was the greatest comeback since Lazurus from the dead. Others thought it was a punch in the stomach.

In a fickle business where success and failure are measured week to week based on the most recent performance, the loss for the Vikings was a bitter pill to swallow because it so easily could have been different.

The Vikings defense, their strength all season, was shredded with dart passes by Ryan Tannehill. When the offense had the opportunity to win or at least send the game to overtime, it went three-and-out, leading to a blocked punt that proved to be the game winner in the final seconds.

But there are times when you have to look at the flip side of the coin. Following the game, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters that head coach Joe Philbin, who had been on the hot seat, would be returning in 2015.

Had his Dolphins lost to the Vikings, it likely wouldn’t be the same story. But from the Miami perspective, Tannehill executed a textbook 12-play, 80-yard drive to bring the team back, the defense got the three-and-out stop it needed to make sure the Vikings didn’t score in the final seconds and the special teams scored the game-winning points.

In the big picture of things, Sunday’s game didn’t have any playoff implications – by the time Miami won they had already been eliminated thanks to a win by Pittsburgh – but it was a foundation building block that likely saved a coach’s job and has the Dolphins looking like a team that could be ready to make a big move if it adds a couple more component parts.

Sound familiar?

The loss isn’t devastating for the Vikings organization, but for those players who laid it on the line Sunday, this one is going to be harder than most to accept.

Just as Miami coaches, players and fans are elated about the unlikely mix of things that needed to take place for them to pull off a come-from-behind victory, the Vikings have to face the reality that all three things Miami needed were preventable. It didn’t just require one or two of them to happen; it required all three phases of the game to fall apart for the Dolphins to get the win.

It happened.

You can bet that film study isn’t going to be pretty because, of all the good things the Vikings did Sunday, they all get overshadowed by the collapse in the final four-plus minutes that will keep the band together in Miami and having the Vikings looking to change things up.

A week can be a lifetime in the NFL.


  • The conventional wisdom was that the Packers-Lions game at Lambeau Field would be a natural fit to be the game flexed to Sunday night in Week 17, but the NFL decided that America would rather watch Cincinnati-Pittsburgh. Perhaps its Midwestern bias, but we’re not so sure about that call. The boys in Vegas have established the Packers as favorites by a touchdown or slightly more. That may be the key to the decision.

  • There is probably a stat site that can tell you, but it seems like a long time since the Vikings have had 14-0 leads in consecutive games and lost them both.

  • With Kyle Rudolph out with ankle and knee injuries, Rhett Ellison got 47 of 61 offensive snaps and Chase Ford got 33.

  • While WR Charles Johnson got 55 snaps and Greg Jennings 47, Cordarrelle Patterson was limited again, playing just nine of the 61 snaps on offense.

  • Without Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges was one of four players to be on the field for all 85 defensive snaps, joining CB Xavier Rhodes, CB Captain Munnerlyn and S Harrison Smith.

  • Rookie LB Brandon Watts saw his first defensive snaps of the season, getting nine of them but struggling through what appeared to be a hamstring injury. With Chad Greenway unable to finish the game with a knee injury, he played only 43 snaps and Audie Cole got 13 snaps.

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