What should’ve been a big playoff victory for the Vikings and a step forward for the franchise Sunday turned into more heartbreak for fans in the latest gut punch.
Fans endured subzero temperatures and worse wind chills in what became the coldest game in Vikings history. It’s a memory, but they would prefer to leave TCF Bank Stadium with a victory and a trip to Arizona this week for the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
Instead, fans are already looking at next season after a crushing 10-9 loss to the Seahawks. Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s playoff loss.
Blair Walsh – He Blew It & Knows It
Blair Walsh made field goals from 22, 43 and 47 yards as the Vikings had a 9-0 lead into the fourth quarter. But fans are left to remember the chip shot from 27 yards that he missed from the left hash mark with 22 seconds left, costing the Vikings a playoff win. He faced the media after the game and took full blame for the miss and the loss. Coach Mike Zimmer said it’s a chip shot field goal that he simply has to make.
Where the miss crossed the line was when fans took their anger to social media after the loss. Many went to Twitter, directly to Walsh’s page, and either threatened his life or recommended he take his own. That’s where alcohol and the Internet are a dangerous combination, and it’s completely uncalled for.
Walsh knows he blew the game and owned up to it after. Move on fans, this team wasn’t headed to the Super Bowl and the foundation has been built for next year’s team to be even better.
Defensive Miscues Led To Seahawks First Score
The Vikings were up 9-0 and the defense was dominating into the fourth quarter, then Russell Wilson happened. More like a fluke play that got the Seahawks back in the game, plus a few injuries that led to reserve players being on the field in a huge spot.
Wilson made a huge play after a bad snap where the ball went 20 yards behind him. Captain Munnerlyn could’ve tackled him for a big loss, but went for the ball that Wilson eventually completed for a gain down to the 4-yard line. Inexplicably, Josh Robinson and Harrison Smith both went to a spot that was covering nothing and left Tyler Lockett wide open. Robinson gave up a touchdown to Doug Baldwin on the next play. If it weren’t for injuries, Robinson wouldn’t have even been on the field to begin with.
Mike Zimmer preaches discipline with his defense, but those three miscues over two plays were huge in a playoff setting.
Peterson’s Fumble Led To Field Goal
Adrian Peterson was the NFL’s top rusher in the regular season, but for whatever reason he has a tendency to fumble in big games. He did it twice against New Orleans in the 2009 NFC title game, losing one, and fumbled after Seattle’s first score trying to gain additional yardage after a first down. The fumble turned into the go-ahead field goal for the Seahawks, the eventual game-winner.
Zimmer pulled him from the game because of the timing of the fumble. Peterson said Monday his focus in the offseason will be on protecting the football. For fans, it’s a little late for that.
Vikings Got Field Goals When They Needed Touchdowns
Blame Walsh all you want for the missed field goal losing the game, but the reality is good teams in the playoffs score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. The Vikings had goal to go on their first scoring possession, but settled for a short kick after Peterson was stopped twice and an incomplete pass to Jerick McKinnon.
Yes, the weather didn’t favor an aggressive game plan on offense. But score a touchdown on the Seahawks and you’re not relying on a kicker to win you a game in a pressure situation. You only get so many chances to score touchdowns in the playoffs, so you better take advantage of them.
The 2015-16 season leaves the Vikings organization a lot to learn heading into next year. They at least have an 11-5 regular season record and NFC North title to build on. Now the next step is to at least win a playoff game and put yourself in a position to get to the Super Bowl.