There are so very many ways to describe Sunday’s 10-9 Vikings playoff loss to Seattle, but the best way to describe it is this: At some point, everything that went wrong this season and the most memorable things that went wrong in the biggest playoff games in recent Vikings history all happened Sunday.
In the short view of the 2015 season, these were the most talked about problems at various times: Blair Walsh’s inaccuracy; injuries on defense; the offensive line’s inability to protect Teddy Bridgewater; Bridgewater’s inability to make big plays and/or sustain drives, leading to an offense that stalled out too often.
Walsh was brutal in the preseason and early going this regular season, leading at least to chatter that the Vikings should bring in competition. He redeemed himself in large part with a very good overall season and stretch run and made three big field goals Sunday … only to miss, of course, at the most critical time.
Defensive injuries in the secondary played a role in the only touchdown drive of the game, with Josh Robinson forced into action.
Pass protection broke down Sunday at critical moments, either keeping the Vikings from padding an early lead or stalling out late drives.
And Bridgewater, in spite of moments of efficiency and a big throw that got the Vikings into field position in the end, presided over an offense that produced just nine points — one week after playing so poorly against Green Bay that the common sentiment is that Minnesota won that game in spite of him.
In the long view of organizational and fan pain, two games stand out in the past 20 seasons: the NFC title games after the 1998 and 2009 seasons. You might consider 2000 and 41-donut in that conversation, but that one was not painful. It was laughable.
And this game Sunday, while at the beginning and not the end of the NFC journey, touched on the low notes of both of those games.
In 1998, as every scarred Vikings fan is aware, Gary Anderson missed a field goal (wide left, just like Walsh) that all but would have guaranteed victory for the Vikings. The scenarios were a little different, but the net result was the same.
In 2009, the main things Vikings fans remember are 1) Minnesota dominating the game but making repeated mistakes to keep New Orleans alive and 2) Adrian Peterson’s fumbles.
On Sunday, the Vikings dominated early play and put themselves in great position to take control. They couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone, though, leaving an opportunity for Seattle. And after a TD that cut the lead to 9-7, it was again a Peterson fumble that people will remember — a miscue that led to the final points, as it turned out, when Walsh’s kick missed.
Every game in one game. Unbelievable.