Soul-crushing, disheartening, bittersweet, heartbreaking, oh-so-close, typical, Fire-Everybody, Cousins-Sucks, Too-Aggressive, deflating, and demoralizing.
These are the words associated with the Minnesota Vikings loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5 of the Pandemic Season. Minnesota finally had a luscious chance to overcome the Seahawks in The Great Northwest in the absence of the cliché “12th Man.”
Much like the Week 3 showdown with the Tennessee Titans – another undefeated NFL team – the Vikings bungled a platter-served opportunity to finally conquer the Seahawks. It would have been the first time the Vikings topped the Bluebirds under Mike Zimmer, a virgin victory over Russell Wilson, and a win in Seattle that has avoided the purple and gold since 2006.
Instead of leaving Seattle with a ho-hum 2-3 record but signs of life, Minnesota travels home to play the maligned Atlanta Falcons – a team that terminated their head coach after a lusterless 0-5 start to 2020. The outlook would have gone something like this: “If the Vikings can topple the undefeated Seahawks on the road, they can for damn sure thump the Falcons. 3-3 heading into a bye week, here we come.”
Nope. Much like the Mike Tice and Leslie Frazier days, Minnesota found a way to lose. They succumbed to the predictable greatness of Russell Wilson. All Zimmer’s team needed was either one yard from Alexander Mattison or a 4th and 10 defensive stop on the Seahawks game-winning drive.
Both stipulations were too much to ask for this year’s Minnesota Vikings.
The team will rebound from this 1-4 start because they proved they can hang tough with the best in the business. Hell, Minnesota did that in Week 3 with the Titans but fell short. It just might be too late to make a meaningful playoff push.
Dictated Almost Every Aspect of Game
From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, good God, the Vikings should have been victorious. For an offensive line that takes relentless criticism, the group plowed lanes for Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison all night.
Even when Cook tweaked his groin, Mattison looked like Brian Johnson joining AC/DC. He did not have the usual Bon Scott flair, but the quality was there. So was the production.
Minnesota outrushed Seattle 201 yards to 124. That’s generally a blueprint for a Vikings victory under Zimmer. And, the rushing-yard inequality was backburner-like stuff. The Vikings possessed the football for over 39 minutes – which close to guarantees a victory for any NFL team.
Normally, though, Russell Wilson is not outlandishly held off the field like that. Therefore, when it’s Wilson that is tasked to surmount the time-of-possession discrepancy, he scripts a comeback. When it’s a mere mortal – like Matthew Stafford or Carson Wentz – the outcome isn’t quite as heroic.
What’s more, Wilson and the Seahawks did not convert a third down all night. Formulate a gameplan than crushes the opposition on the ground, overwhelms in time of possession, and disallows any third-down conversions, your squad wins the game. But not on October 11, 2020.
But Turnovers Too Deadly
Why? Because the sequence of consecutive turnovers brutalized the Vikings. Kirk Cousins tossed his worst interception as a Viking and then suffered a fumble that was a byproduct of poor pass protection. Those follies directly translated to 14 points – in a game that was lost by a single point.
That’s where the Tice and Frazier emotions rush back in. Despite controlling the game as a matter of schematics, turnovers and subsequent ineptitude flipped the thing on its head.
Elite teams, such as Seattle, seize on those turnovers and rip the lungs from opponents. If the recipient (in this case, the Vikings) were a tank-for-next-year style of team, they would have rolled over and decomposed.
But this brand of Vikings would have nothing of the sort. They battled back with the junior heroism of Kirk Cousins and the something-to-prove feet of Alexander Mattison. It simply was not enough to overturn the points-off-turnovers malady.
Worthy but Probably Too Late
The emotional takeaway from the Week 5 game in Seattle is that Minnesota Vikings belong in games with the NFL’s undefeated. In no way, shape, or form were the Vikings outplayed or outclassed. Perhaps the situation would be different if Seattle had the infamous 12th Man, but for 2020, the 12th Man is totally irrelevant.
The Minnesota Vikings are more than equipped to beat top-tier NFL teams. They flirted with the prospect against the Titans and now the Seahawks. Winning just one of those games would place the team in a markedly better standing – both in the NFC and for momentum’s sake.
Four losses in five weeks are just too many to make a serious playoff run. The Vikings have long been a team that probablyneeds at least one home playoff game to reach a Super Bowl. That strategy is all but vanquished because of the Seahawks loss.