Well, Vikings fans have seen this movie before. In a game they absolutely had to win to have any real chance at making the playoffs, the Vikings got destroyed by the Indianapolis Colts, 34-6.
The Vikings trailed 17-0 early and barely had the ball in the first quarter. They were down 27-0 at the half, and the team appeared disinterested for most of the second half.
It wasn’t just the fact that the Vikings lost Sunday. It was the fact that they got punished on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and Andrew Luck did whatever he wanted against the Vikings defense. There was no fight in the Vikings on Sunday once they got down early, leaving Vikings fans who ventured out into the cold to watch the debacle at U.S. Bank Stadium angry and frustrated.
Teams standing in their way of a potential playoff spot lost, but the Vikings couldn’t do anything to help themselves. Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s loss as they are now on the outside looking in for a playoff spot.
What was Linval Joseph Thinking?
The Colts were up 3-0 and driving in the first quarter, but the Vikings had made a stop and forced another field goal try. And then, inexplicably, Linval Joseph attempted to block the field goal by jumping over the center after the snap. Instead, he made contact with the center. That’s an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and it gave the Colts 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
Indianapolis scored on the next play to take a 10-0 lead. Fans wondered “What was he thinking?” and the Vikings defense looked deflated. Did Joseph honestly not know you couldn’t make contact with the center on a field goal try? Did he really think he could get over the center without touching him? Who knows, but it was a penalty and a stupid one at that. It was one of many preventable mistakes made on a day where you just simply can’t have them. Penalties hurt the Vikings a lot on Sunday, but Joseph’s early gaffe set the tone for the rest of the game.
Adrian Peterson’s Return Doesn’t Change Offense Much
If you were thinking or hoping that Adrian Peterson’s return to the offense would give the Vikings a boost, you were wrong. Peterson had been on injured reserve since Week 2 with a knee injury, but was activated before Sunday’s game. He managed just 22 yards on six carries, and he lost a fumble on his longest gain of the day from scrimmage.
He couldn’t do much with the Vikings offensive line having another tough game. They’ve had seven different starting combinations this year, and few of them have worked. The worst rushing offense in the NFL went for a total of 34 yards on nine carries Sunday. Peterson says he will play Sunday at Green Bay, and it could be his last game in a Vikings’ jersey. He would likely sit against the Bears if the Vikings are out of playoff contention, and they won’t pay him his $18 million that he’s due next year.
Vikings Have Terrible Game In Big Spot
The Vikings are known to lay eggs in big games, and that trend continued on Sunday. Their offensive struggles have been nothing new, but the Vikings’ defense might have had its worst performance of the season Sunday. Two plays, both touchdowns, served as examples. Robert Turbin scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter, and he should’ve have been tackled for either a loss or minimal gain. At least two Vikings missed tackles, and two others gave up on the play and he walked into the end zone. Pathetic.
In the second quarter, Erik Swoope scored on a 27-yard pass from Luck for a 17-0 lead. For whatever reason, Anthony Harris stopped covering him, looked the other way for a helping defender and nobody was there. It was an easy touchdown. Harris probably shouldn’t be on the field, but with Harrison Smith hurt, the Vikings are limited on options in the secondary.
The Vikings defense was tired from being on the field so much, and they had mentally checked out. They won’t admit it, but they stopped playing. That’s not acceptable in the second quarter.
After 5-0 Start, 2-7 Since Bye Week
The bye week this year could not have come at a worse time for the Vikings. They were 5-0, they had one of the best defenses in the NFL and they were one of the best teams in the league. Since? They’re 2-7. They’ve been drubbed by the Eagles, Bears and Colts and gave away winnable games to the Lions (twice), the Redskins and the Cowboys. A defense that once dominated has all kinds of holes, the offense can’t run the ball and Sam Bradford is having trouble staying upright.
The Vikings switched kickers, had their offensive coordinator resign and being plagued by dumb penalties and injuries. Even coach Mike Zimmer had to miss a game to have emergency surgery for a detached retina.
The Vikings have to win at Green Bay on Christmas Eve to have any chance to stay alive in the playoffs, but even that may not be enough. An optimist would say it’s a miracle the Vikings even have a chance to finish 9-7 given all the injuries and changes. The pessimist would say they’ve given away several winnable games despite all the adversity. The reality is the Vikings are one of the few teams to start 5-0 and likely miss the playoffs. Oh, what could have been.