The Minnesota Vikings entered the playoffs because the No. 3 seed within the NFC, and — at 13-4 — as house owners of the third-best document in soccer. And but, they obtained about the identical quantity of hype as you’d anticipate a Kirk Cousins-led crew to obtain.
It just isn’t exhausting to see why there was extra discuss concerning the Vikings being fraudulent than there was about them being a reliable Super Bowl favourite. They entered the event with a unfavorable scoring differential on the yr (-3), whereas rating in the course of the pack in anticipated factors added on each offense (sixteenth) and protection (sixteenth).
A deep run for the Vikings appeared inconceivable, and virtually everyone outdoors of the Land of 10,000 Lakes was in settlement on that. Turns out, that perspective was the right one: the Vikings misplaced their playoff opener to the New York Giants with a remaining rating of 31-24.
So, within the phrases of legendary Vikings (and at that time Cardinals) head coach Dennis Green:
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!
The Vikings earned their 13 common season wins by enjoying among the most opportunistic soccer in latest reminiscence.
You in all probability keep in mind them overcoming a 33-0 halftime deficit towards the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15 to finish the best comeback in league historical past. That recreation ended three factors in Minnesota’s favor and was subsequently certainly one of 11 one-score victories the crew celebrated this season.
Going 11-0 in such video games was unparalleled. It additionally was not sustainable; one thing the Vikings came upon within the first spherical of the playoffs.
Hosting the 9-7-1 Giants at US Bank Stadium, the Vikings were in one other tightly contested recreation. They trailed by 10 factors in each the second and third quarters, however managed to return again to tie the sport at 24 within the fourth. They did fall behind 31-24 a short while later, however with 7:47 left on the clock had loads of time to do what they did in each shut recreation this season: discover a approach to win.
This time, nevertheless, Minnesota ran out of luck.
The Vikings responded to the Giants’ fourth-quarter TD by going three-and-out. Their protection then allowed New York to empty greater than three minutes off the sport clock, and it positive regarded like, sure, this is able to be the day their inconceivable streak got here to an finish.
But being the 2022 Minnesota Vikings, they were handed some surprising possibilities once more. First, Giants large receiver Darius Slayton dropped a simple third-down move that had the potential to ice the sport in his crew’s favor. After they obtained the following punt, the Vikings benefitted from a extremely questionable roughing the passer name.
But as a substitute of the ol’ “Ah s–t, here we go again!” the Vikings obtained a dose of actuality: that their document was propped up on beating the chances again and again. Eventually, the chances slapped again in probably the most disappointing of moments.
Minnesota drove as much as its personal 48-yard line however back-to-back performs throughout the two-minute warning sealed its destiny. The first was Cousins throwing behind Ok.J. Osborn on a third-and-8. The second was this:
“You think you have a chance on that third-and-8 call. You think you have a chance, and unfortunately we just didn’t end up coming down with that one, for whatever reason,” said Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell after the game.
“Then, on that fourth down, just trying to get some eligibles vertical and the ball ended up going underneath like we had done multiple times — T.J. underneath the coverage for catch-conversions — they just were able to make a play. But the intent was to continue having a chance to win the football game with pushing the ball down the field.”
On that fourth down, the ball ended up being pushed a mere three yards down the sector. That was not sufficient to transform on fourth-and-8, ending the Vikings’ recreation, season, and profitable streak in one-score video games.
That streak was what obtained them to that time within the first place. In the tip, nevertheless, their very own mediocrity lastly obtained the higher of them.