If you think about it, the Vikings played 60 minutes of football and generated a total of five net yards in a 38-7 loss to Seattle at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
First, the offense produced only 125 yards, a season low by 123 yards. Subtract a 25-yard return of a Teddy Bridgewater interception and 95 yards on nine penalties and, well, it wasn’t pretty.
No penalty was more damaging and more controversial at a more inopportune time than the unnecessary roughness penalty on defensive end Brian Robison at the end of an 8-yard sack on first-and-10 at the Vikings’ 14-yard line in the closing minutes of the first half.
Robison and quarterback Russell Wilson were still struggling at the end of the play when Robison reached down, grabbed Wilson’s leg and lifted. Wilson broke free and took off for the end zone as the flag was thrown and the play was stopped.
Suddenly, second-and-18 from the 22 became first-and-10 from the 11. Three plays later, the Seahawks scored to take a 14-0 lead.
“They told me he was down and I lifted him up and I don’t know. I don’t know,” Robison said. “Obviously, he didn’t think he was down. He took off running. But the refs made the call that they felt was the right call.”
Coach Mike Zimmer defended referee Terry McAulay after the game.
“The explanation I got was that they warned one of our players on a previous play and when the guy was down, he was down and you should let him go,” Zimmer said. “Terry McAulay is a good official. I told him that after I talked to him.”
With 65 penalties entering the game, the Vikings were the second-least penalized team in the league behind Pittsburgh (64). But they committed five penalties on offense, three on defense and one on special teams.
The flying flags reached the absurd in the third quarter when three different Vikings committed three 10-yard penalties on three consecutive first-down snaps. Guard Brandon Fusco (holding), receiver Mike Wallace (pass interference) and guard Mike Harris (illegal block) forced the Vikings into a first-and-30 situation that snowballed into second-and-34 and finally fourth-and-38.
Multiple calls had Vikings Nation in a Twittered frenzy. Wallace’s pass interference was near the top of the list.
“I don’t know what I could do,” Wallace said. “My hand might have brushed the guy’s hip. But that’s all. That was an awful call. Awful.”
The Vikings’ first penalty was defensive holding on cornerback Terence Newman. It negated a third-down incompletion and extended what became Seattle’s first touchdown drive in the first quarter.
The first penalty of the second half seemed to sink any chances of the Vikings coming back from 21-0. A third-down conversion was negated by a pass interference penalty on receiver Jarius Wright. That led to a three-and-out followed by another touchdown drive and a 28-0 deficit.
When Seattle took it’s 28-0 lead, it was only nine minutes of game time after Robison’s controversial penalty when the score was 7-0. Robison was asked if things could have been different had that call not been made.
“It could have,” he said. “It could have not. We’ll have no way of knowing.”