8 Reactions to the Vikings’ Season-Ending Loss at Detroit

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on the sidelines against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings’ 2023 season has officially come to an end.

At 7-9, the Vikings needed plenty of help across the NFC in order to make the playoffs, but first and foremost, they had to defeat the Detroit Lions in order for the playoffs to be a possibility. They were unable to get that done, losing by a score of 30-20 in the final weekend of the regular season. As Minnesota finishes the year with a 7-10 record, here are 8 reactions to Minnesota’s loss in Detroit.

1. Horrific Pass Protection

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) during second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Mullens faced constant pressure throughout Sunday afternoon as right tackle Brian O’Neill and right guard Ed Ingram were forced to sit out of the game with injuries. He was sacked four times during the game, and Aidan Hutchinson recorded a pair of them.

2. Akayleb Evans Benched Again

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) catches a pass and shakes a tackle attempt by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Akayleb Evans (21) during first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Even with the Vikings secondary being down both Mekhi Blackmon and Byron Murphy, it took just two possessions for Akayleb Evans to be benched yet again. The second-year CB went out, and veteran Joejuan Williams went in for the majority of the game while Andrew Booth also got some extra reps in the secondary.

3. Third-Down Puzzle

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings simply could not figure out how to convert a third down all afternoon. They finished the day converting just two of their 13 attempts for a putrid conversion percentage of just 15.4%. This had been a bit of a struggle all season for Minnesota, and it proved to be part of their downfall again.

4. Dalton Risner Injury

8 Reactions
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) celebrates after a touchdown with guard Dalton Risner (66) against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned, the Vikings were already down a pair of offensive linemen going into Sunday’s game, and they lost Dalton Risner at left guard in the first half. As a result, Chris Reed had to finish the rest of the afternoon at the position, making his first appearance of the season with the offense.

5. Season Ends Fittingly

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell reacts to a call during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With the Vikings trailing 30-20 late in the fourth quarter and desperately trying to come up with a score and keep their winning hopes alive, Nick Mullens threw an interception, effectively ending the season for Minnesota. Seeing as turnovers have plagued the Vikings since Week 1, it was the most fitting way for them to go down in Week 18.

6. Penalties Pile Up Early

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) gets ready to hand off the ball during second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings dug themselves into a hole early by playing some very sloppy football. Not only could they not find a way to convert third downs, but they also racked up six penalties for a total of 50 yards during the first half. They came into the weekend averaging right around five per game for the year.

7. Nick Muse Makes First Career Catch

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Nick Muse (34) catches a pass for a touchdown over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Brown (22) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Muse put together a rather strong preseason in order to make the 53-man roster, but because of the sheer depth at tight end, he hasn’t gotten much playing time this year. However, Muse got on the field for Week 18 against Detroit, and he recorded his first NFL reception by catching a 22-yard pass from Mullens.

8. Justin Jefferson Hits Another Milestone

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) gets tackled by Detroit Lions cornerback Cameron Sutton (1) after catching a pass in the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

By catching a 38-yard touchdown in the third quarter, Justin Jefferson surpassed 1000 receiving yards for the fourth consecutive season to start his career. He became just the fifth player in NFL history to achieve that feat, joining Randy Moss (1998-2001), A.J. Green (2011-14), Mike Evans (2014-17), and Michael Thomas (2016-19).

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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