By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings lost to the Buffalo Bills by one point Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but it was one play that could have changed the outcome.
The Vikings sacked Kyle Orton on back-to-back plays to force the Bills to convert a fourth-down with 20 yards go and the clock running. The Bills chose not to use a timeout and go hurry-up for the critical play.
The Bills caught the Vikings still relaying the call and several players not quite ready for the snap. That included linebacker Chad Greenway, who was telling the defensive backs on his side what defensive coverage was called. That put Greenway a step behind Scott Chandler. The Bills tight end was able to make the catch for a 24-yard gain.
“You look back and you wish you could change something, but it’s hard to stop the clock when a team’s driving on you in (a two-minute drill),” Greenway said Monday. “A timeout, that’s not my decision. All I remember is looking back and seeing that Captain (Munnerlyn) was real deep, from trying to get back from the last snap, and we weren’t lined up. I was trying to give him the call, and the ball was on top of us. I got to a good spot, but you’ve got to make the play in that situation. My hand was right in the pocket. The ball just didn’t come out.”
During his weekly press conference on Monday, head coach Mike Zimmer was asked about calling a time out prior to the play.
“The clock was running, so that’s in our favor,” he said. “The chances of them hitting a fourth-and-20, the clock’s running, the game’s on the line —you’ve got a lot of things in your favor at that point in time. Right, wrong or indifferent, I’ve always worked for a lot of guys who don’t like calling timeouts on defense, because they don’t like wasting them, so that is a little bit of my mentality, too. Probably, in that situation, the hectic (nature) of everything that’s going on, I probably should have used it.”
The Vikings look to rebound from something they did not do well in a game for the third consecutive week as they prepare to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.
Injuries hit offensive line
The Vikings, already without right guard Brandon Fusco for the season due to an injury, lost two other interior offensive linemen late in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Bills.
With less than four minutes remaining in the opening quarter, center John Sullivan suffered a concussion and right guard Vladimir Ducasse injured his knee. That forced Joe Berger into the game at center and Mike Harris, the only other active offensive lineman, in at right guard.
Harris, who is the team’s backup tackle, played guard for the first time “probably since Pop Warner.”
Sullivan will go through the concussion protocol this week to determine whether or not he will be able to play against the Buccaneers. Ducasse had an MRI on his injured knee. All reports indicate that the injury is not serious.
If Sullivan is unable to play, Berger will take his place in the starting lineup. As to who would be his replacement – that’s a mystery.
If Ducasse is out, especially if it is long-term, the Vikings may turn to rookie fifth round draft pick David Yankey. They may also keep Harris in the lineup as the starter.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.