Watching Vikings games for more years than I care to admit (not because I’m ashamed but because it makes me feel old) puts me in a position to say this:
That 22-16 loss Sunday was one of the five most “Vikings-esque” regular-season losses in at least the past 20 years. To truly qualify, a loss has to have at least one spectacular fall (preferably more). It needs to have at least one element that is completely ridiculous. And it has to make you question why you just spent three hours of your time watching.
In chronological order, here are those games:
The Ed McCaffrey game
The year was 1996. A promising Vikings season that started out 5-1 had sputtered to 6-5 heading into a home game against John Elway and the Broncos. Minnesota led 17-14 deep into the fourth quarter. The Broncos got the ball back for one more drive and marched down the field (with the help of a fourth-down conversion) to set up third-and-goal from the Vikings 5.
Elway threw over the middle into all sorts of traffic. Harlon Barnett tipped the ball straight up. He and Vikings teammate Orlando Thomas both converged on it, and either could have intercepted it to seal the game … but instead they collided and the ball deflected to the Broncos’ McCaffrey, who caught it and slithered into the end zone for a game-winning TD.
The Vikings did rebound to make the playoffs, but they were waxed by Dallas in the first round.
The Michael Vick game
This one didn’t hurt so much in terms of what it meant to the season, since the Vikings were 3-8 going into their game against the Falcons late in the 2002 season.
But still: The Vikings had a great chance to score the go-ahead TD late in regulation but had to settle for the tying field goal. They won the toss in overtime but had to punt. And on the second play of Atlanta’s possession, Vick scrambled 46 yards — making two defenders crash into each other in the process — for the game-ending touchdown.
The Nate Poole game
This one hurt. Oh, it hurt. The Vikings started out 6-0 in 2003. By the finale against lowly Arizona, they had given it all back and were 9-6 — needing a win to get into the postseason.
So many things went wrong in that game, but all you really need to know is this: The Cardinals trailed 17-6 with less than two minutes to play. But they 1) scored a touchdown, 2) recovered an onside kick and 3) got a fourth-and-25 TD pass to Nate Poole as time expired to win the game.
The Ravens game
Maybe you’ve blocked out everything that happened in 2013, but I still remember how the Vikings and Ravens scored a combined five touchdowns in the final 2:05 — three for Baltimore, two for the Vikings. Yes, Minnesota held the lead three separate times in the final 2:05 and still lost.
The Golden Tate game
We could also call this the Blair Walsh game or plenty of other unprintable things. All that happened Sunday was this: A Vikings team that desperately needed to win tried everything in its power to lose, only to rescue itself with a late touchdown … but only to surrender a near-impossible field goal drive and crushing overtime TD.