BALTIMORE — The Vikings have witnessed their share of weird moments and goofball happenings this season. A “home” game in London, a quarterback carousel, a string of last-second collapses, a game that ended in a tie.
Nothing like Sunday, though. Nothing like those final 125 seconds on a frozen field when everything went completely berserk.
“This is a first,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “The best way to describe it is, I don’t know what happened.”
What happened was equal parts exhilarating and maddening, and left everyone associated shaking their head in disbelief. The Vikings and Baltimore Ravens combined for five touchdowns in the final 2 minutes, 5 seconds of regulation.
They traded rapid-fire blows, back and forth, like a pingpong match played inside a snow globe.
The Vikings looked like they might lose, then win, then lose, then win, then … the final haymaker.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco found Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 4 seconds left to end the flurry and escape with a 29-26 victory at M&T Bank Stadium.
It was the first game in NFL history with six lead changes in the fourth quarter, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“A lot of things occurred,” said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, emotionally drained. “A lot of stuff in a short period of time.”
The loss officially eliminated the Vikings (3-9-1) from playoff contention and added another chapter in a season that feels like the twilight zone.
“Probably one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of,” quarterback Matt Cassel said.
Said fullback Jerome Felton: “That was definitely one of the wackiest games I’ve ever been a part of.”
Wacky and eventful. Heavy snow fell throughout the game and blanketed the field, causing severe footing problems and difficulties for both offenses. The snow stopped in the third quarter and was replaced by freezing rain.
MVP running back Adrian Peterson suffered a sprained right foot in the second quarter and did not return. He’s scheduled to have an MRI on Monday morning.
Vikings coaches and players were livid with the officials after the game because of a controversial fumble by Toby Gerhart in the first quarter and two pass interference penalties in the fourth quarter.
And to top the day off, the team plane had a problem with one of its doors, causing a long delay while another plane was dispatched to bring the team home.
And, of course, those final 125 seconds.
“It’s like an emotional roller coaster,” defensive end Brian Robison said.
The ride began when Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 2:05 left to give his team a 15-12 lead. And then …
The Vikings reclaimed the lead two plays later on Gerhart’s 41-yard touchdown run up the middle. And then …
Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned the kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 remaining. And then …
Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson took a screen pass 79 yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds left. And then …
The Ravens took over at their 20-yard line. Brown started the drive with a 35-yard catch. Two plays later, linebacker Chad Greenway was called for pass interference on Pitta, who tripped.
“The [official] told me I was all over him,” Greenway said. “That’s what he described to me. I guess that was his opinion. I didn’t think that I affected his route at all.”
The Ravens moved the ball to the 9 with 9 seconds left. Flacco lofted a pass over middle linebacker Audie Cole’s head and Brown caught it and dragged both feet in bounds.
The Vikings still had 4 seconds left to answer, which seemed entirely plausible at that point, but time as expired as Matt Asiata returned the kickoff 20 yards.
“A lot of highs and lows, that’s for sure,” Gerhart said. “I thought we had it in the bag and then they take it back. And then Cordarrelle takes another one. I thought we had it again. … Your emotions were just going up and down. You thought, ‘OK, we got this one now.’ Unfortunately, they drove down and scored again.”
That touchdown marked the fifth time the Vikings have surrendered a score in the final minute this season. This one deserves first prize in ranking their gut punches.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss,” Cassel said. “I don’t think you can put in words how you feel after a game like this, especially with the emotion that you put into it.”