The Vikings committed 11 penalties for 105 yards in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis. That included five miscues for 50 yards on offense, four penalties for 30 yards on defense and two for 25 on special teams. The Vikings drew at least one flag in every quarter and had two players – Phil Loadholt and Christian Ballard – penalized twice. Here’s a flag-by-flag look at the Vikings’ breakdown Sunday.
Play: Vikings - Second-and-2 from the Indianapolis 30
Penalty: Charlie Johnson penalized for holding, 10 yards
What happened: Johnson seemed to deliver a fundamental block inside on Colts lineman Fili Moala, creating a hole on the left side for Adrian Peterson. But officials saw a hold on Johnson, who seemed baffled when the flag was thrown and even more confused when the replay ran overhead at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Why: Johnson’s hold negated a 9-yard Peterson run that would have given the Vikings a first down at the Colts’ 21 on their opening series. The Vikings didn’t get another first down on the drive and settled for a 51-yard Blair Walsh field goal.
Play: Vikings - Second-and-12 from the Indianapolis 40
Penalty: Phil Loadholt penalized for illegal formation, 5 yards
What happened: The Vikings went with two tight ends on the play but it appears they had Loadholt, left tackle Matt Kalil plus receivers Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins detached from the line of scrimmage with Christian Ponder and Peterson in the backfield.
Why: Coming on the next play after Johnson’s miscue, Loadholt’s mistake further thwarted the Vikings on their opening drive.
Play: Colts – First-and-10 from their own 33
Penalty: Christian Ballard penalized for encroachment, 5 yards
What happened: Ballard went for a hard count by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, jumped into the neutral zone and caused right guard Mike McGlynn to flinch.
Why: On the ensuing first-and-5, Luck escaped pressure from behind by Jared Allen and outran Erin Henderson for a 6-yard gain and a first down. That was the second of four Indianapolis first downs on an opening drive that chewed up 80 yards over 13 plays and ended with a 3-yard Luck to Dwayne Allen touchdown pass.
Play: Colts – First-and-10 from the Vikings 48
Penalty: Fred Evans penalized for offsides, 5 yards
What happened: Evans went for a hard count by Luck.
Why: Evans gave Indianapolis a first-and-5 that they needed two plays to convert into a first down. They ultimately got a 26-yard field goal on the series. But Christian Ponder’s fumble at midfield was more to blame for that Colts score than Evans’ penalty.
Play: Colts – Fourth-and-5 at their own 45
Penalty: Andrew Sendejo penalized for roughing the punter, 15 yards
What happened: Sendejo came racing in on an attempt to block a Pat McAfee punt but didn’t give himself enough room, his helmet hitting McAfee on the inside of his left leg and sending the Colts punter sprawling.
Why: McAfee’s 35-yard punt was returned 14 yards by Marcus Sherels. The Vikings should have had first-and-10 at their own 34 in a 17-6 hole. Instead, the penalty on Sendejo gave Indianapolis a first down and new life. And it snowballed into the Vikings next penalty too.
Play: Colts – Third-and-16 at the Vikings 46
Penalty: Jared Allen penalized for a late hit, 15 yards
What happened: Luck had nothing down the field and scrambled to his left. Allen gave chase but then made a foolish decision in diving to take down Luck as the Colts quarterback ran out of bounds along the home sideline.
Why: Allen can question the validity of the penalty all he wants. And in the locker room after the game he was incredibly critical of the call. But you have to question the judgment he used in even trying to hit Luck when he did. The risk-reward there was out of whack with Luck running out of bounds 15 yards shy of the first down marker and not yet into field goal range. Luck was clearly across the sideline when Allen tripped him and took him down. Again, the Vikings should have been off the field and getting the ball back down a touchdown. Instead, Indianapolis eventually turned the Sendejo and Allen penalties into a 45-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. That drive was a 14-play, 53-yarder with the Vikings providing 30 yards in freebies.
Play: Colts – Fourth-and-7 at their own 5
Penalty: Christian Ballard penalized for an illegal block in the back, 10 yards
What happened: In an attempt to create a lane for a Sherels punt return, Ballard put a pretty good lick on Dwayne Allen with a block. It was a close call. In real time, it looked more like a block in the side.
Why: The Colts were pinned deep in their own territory and it seemed like the Vikings would certainly be getting good field position after a punt. But McAfee bombed a 64-yard punt and Sherels’ 11-yard return was negated by Ballard’s foul. The Vikings started their next drive at the Indianapolis 32.
Play: Vikings – First-and-10 at their own 32
Penalty: Matt Kalil penalized for unnecessary roughness, 15 yards
What happened: With nobody open, Ponder tucked and ran toward the right sideline for a 3-yard gain. After the play, Kalil inexplicably lowered the boom on Indianapolis nose tackle Martin Tevaseu, a good 25-30 yards away from where Ponder had run out of bounds.
Why: On the Vikings’ first play after Ballard’s illegal block, Kalil’s brain lapse cost the Vikings another huge chunk of yardage, pushing them all the way back to their own 20. In two snaps, the field had flipped 85 yards in Indianapolis’ favor with the Vikings’ penalties essentially costing them 36 yards. That’s never going to be good for a team trying to erase a two touchdown deficit.
Play: Vikings – Second-and-6 at their own 49
Penalty: Phil Loadholt penalized for holding, 10 yards
What happened: Again, with none of his receivers getting free down the field, Ponder tucked and raced for daylight down the right sideline. He picked up 15 yards with a nifty run. But referees ruled that Loadholt held outside linebacker Jerry Hughes. Along with Johnson’s first quarter hold, this may have been the most iffy flag thrown against the Vikings on Sunday.
Why: Instead of having a first down at the Indianapolis 36, which would have put the Vikings inside Blair Walsh’s field goal range, they were instead backed into a second-and-16 situation at their own 39. Two plays later, they punted.
Play: Vikings – First-and-10 at their own 21
Penalty: Percy Harvin penalized for offensive pass interference, 10 yards
What happened: In one of the rare moments Sunday when Ponder threw the ball deep down the field, Harvin got entangled with Colts safety Antoine Bethea and tried to shove his way around him to chase a deep ball thrown down the right hash.
Why: With time ticking away, the Vikings’ attempt to rally from 14 points down was thwarted once again. Pushed into a first-and-20 situation, Ponder hit Harvin for a 17-yard gain on the next play. But then incomplete passes to Stephen Burton and Devin Aromashodu forced another punt.
Play: Colts – First-and-10 from the Vikings 40
Penalty: Everson Griffen penalized for offsides, 5 yards
What happened: With only 18 seconds left and the Colts trying to drive for a game-winning field goal, Griffen tried to time the snap count and blew it, jumping offsides a half-second too soon.
Why: Truthfully, the end result was minor. Griffen’s penalty came on a play where Luck hit Donnie Avery for a 7-yard gain that pushed Indianapolis into field goal range. But imagine if that pass had fallen incomplete. It would have been Griffen’s blunder that gave the Colts their final 5 yards that set up Adam Vinatieri’s 53-yard game-winning field goal. Inexplicably, the Colts opted to accept the flag on Griffen instead of the Avery reception, making Vinatieri’s kick 2 yards longer than it had to be.