In a game helping to decide the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings were unable to achieve victory, losing to the rival Detroit Lions in heartbreaking fashion.
After losing the first matchup against the Detroit Lions at home, the Minnesota Vikings went into Ford Field on Thanksgiving knowing that they needed a win. With the Lions already at the top of the NFC North standings, the Vikings needed the win to take back control of their playoff destiny.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they were unable to shake many of the problems that have plagued them all year.
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The Vikings started slowly on defense, allowing the Lions to march down the field at will to take a 7-0 lead on a 12-play, 75-yard opening drive. The Vikings put up almost no resistance, allowing Matthew Stafford to calmly and methodically pick the defense apart, going 6-for-6 with 46 yards and an easy touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to cap the drive.
The Vikings were able to answer with a touchdown of their own on the following drive, thanks in no small part to a few beneficial call reversals and penalties from the referee crew. First, the Vikings were bailed out by a defensive holding penalty on third down after a Kyle Rudolph drop. Then just two plays later a would-be strip-sack of Sam Bradford was reversed due to the forward motion of his arm, keeping the drive alive. On the very next play, an interception and 71-yard return by Lions safety Glover Quin was called back due to pass interference.
The Vikings were eventually able to punch it in with a 5-yard rumble from Matt Asiata, but the penalty-aided 75-yard drive did very little to alleviate any concerns about the Vikings’ offense.
After the initial flurry of scoring to start the game, things quieted down a bit, with both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions. Then, put into position by a 41-yard catch by Golden Tate on a blown coverage, the Lions kicked a field goal to take a 10-3 lead.
On the next two drives, the teams traded turnovers on downs, with each team failing to convert on 4th down tries. Following another punt from the Vikings, the Lions tried to get into field goal range to end the half, but stalled just inside Vikings territory.
After trading punts to start the second half, the Vikings were able to put together a short drive and kick a field goal, tying the game at 10-10 with 7:03 left in the third quarter.
Finally getting things rolling, the Minnesota Vikings forced a three-and-out on the next possession and drove 76-yards down the field on offense. The drive ate up 7:36 seconds, but the Vikings were only able to walk away with three points after a personal foul on TJ Clemmings stalled the drive. Still, clinging to a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter, the Vikings appeared to be in good position.
After holding the Lions on the next drive and pinning the Lions at the 2-yardline with a perfect punt from Jeff Locke, things were looking good for the Vikings.
Unfortunately, the Vikings’ defense once again broke down on the most important drive of the game. Vikings fans everywhere experienced déjà vu as the Lions marched down the field, just like they did two weeks ago, to tie the game up with a field goal.
The Vikings got the ball back with one minute and 45 seconds left on the clock, but by then the implosion was inevitable. After a conservative and uninspired three plays, Sam Bradford threw a short pass right into the hands of Lions star Darius Slay, who jumped in front of Adam Thielen for the interception. It was just Bradford’s third interception of the year, but it came at the worst time possible.
Now standing at 6-5, two games behind the Lions in the NFC North, the Vikings’ playoff chances are looking very grim. In what just might have been an elimination game, the Minnesota Vikings simply didn’t do enough to win.