The Minnesota Vikings suffered their most devastating loss of the season on Sunday when kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining in the game that would have given them the win. The Vikings played strong in many aspects in a game that hardly anyone gave them a chance to win.
They dominated the time of possession, maintaining the ball for 32:26 compared to the Seattle Seahawks’ time of 27:34. The defense held the Seahawks offense to a total of 10 points and 239 yards. The Vikings had a chance to win the game at the end of it all and that’s what makes this loss so hard for players to accept.
“We knew this was going to be a tough test for us and we wanted to prove the world wrong. Hardly anyone gave us a chance to win this game and by all rights we should have won it,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “So I think that’s the thing that hurts the most. It was a game that we had in hand and we just didn’t finish it.
“I’m not taking anything away from Seattle. I felt like we had that game dead to rights. There were just a few plays here and there that determined the outcome of it. And I’m not going to lay all the blame on Blair, absolutely not. There’s plays throughout the game that you can pick other than that that turned the momentum. I mean, just got to finish it up.”
Apart from Walsh missing a chip shot, the biggest deciding factor was a improvisational play by the Seahawks offense where the ball was snapped over Russell Wilson’s shoulder but they were still able to complete a 35-yard pass and get the ball down to the Vikings 4-yard line. Seattle would then score the only touchdown of the game two plays later.
That is what separated the Vikings from their first playoff win since 2009, two plays that, more often than not, would go the Vikings’ way. Walsh had made kicks under 30 yards 97 percent of the time before Sunday, and it is not very often that a quarterback can avoid a sack when the ball is snapped over him, let alone complete a 35-yard pass.
The worst part of all for the Vikings is that they held a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but clearly that was not quite enough as they fell 10-9.
“You think about the way we came out and kind of dominated into the fourth quarter, nine to zero, and to come out and lose in this fashion is a dagger,” said running back Adrian Peterson.
This is a tough loss for the Vikings and it masks, at least temporarily, all the good things the Vikings had done this season. Few neutral obvservers expected them to go 11-5 in the regular season and win the NFC North, but they did.
Head coach Mike Zimmer was disappointed with how the game ended, and like Robison believed they should have won. But at the same time he is also aware of everything his team was able to accomplish this season.
“It’s disappointing that we lost today. I thought we played well enough to win,” he said. “This team has a lot of fight and a lot of heart. I’ve probably never been more proud of a football team than I am this team, the way they worked all year long, the way they fought, the way they competed, the intelligence that they played with, the way they worked, and it’s unfortunate that we lost and don’t have a chance to continue to move forward. Regardless of what people think and regardless of how they think we played, we’re a good football team.”
This is a loss that is going to sit with the team all offseason, but now the hope is that they are going to use it as a motivating factor moving forward with a young team.