The 27-26 loss at Seattle on Sunday night has to qualify as one of the most difficult regular-season losses the Vikings have ever had, and one of the most devastating losses Mike Zimmer has had to endure since taking over as coach in 2014.
After a near-perfect first half, the Vikings caught every bad break you can have — crucial turnovers, penalties and coming up short on a fourth-down attempt to win the game. But what made it even worse was that for the bulk of the contest, they dominated a Seahawks team that was 4-0 and appeared to be among the best in the NFL.
The Vikings put together some of the best drives that any Zimmer-led club has ever had. They outgained the Seahawks 449-314, even though Seattle entered the game averaging 416.3 yards on offense. They nearly doubled Seattle’s time of possession, a reversal of the Vikings’ big issue from the beginning of the season.
They didn’t let Seattle convert a single third down. The Seahawks went 0-for-7 while the Vikings were 6-for-14.
The Vikings had 31 first downs to Seattle’s 18. They ran 83 offensive plays and rushed for 201 yards even as Alexander Mattison replaced injured Dalvin Cook.
They held Russell Wilson, who was averaging 321 passing yards per game, to 217.
Yes, this club did everything you could hope for playing on the road in the rain at one of the most difficult stadiums in the league to play at, even if it was without any fans.
But the Vikings also committed two turnovers during a third-quarter stretch in which their 13-0 lead quickly turned into a 21-13 deficit.
And when it came to the biggest decision of the game, Zimmer and the offensive coaches decided to go for the victory at the Seattle 6-yard line on fourth down at the two-minute warning.
Mattison failed to get the first down. But that still meant Seattle needed to go on a 94-yard drive to win the game with only one timeout.
But Wilson is a future Hall of Famer, and he showed it on the Seahawks’ final drive.
No moral victories
There are no moral victories in professional sports. This Vikings club, by almost every measure, should be 3-2 on the season, but they will come home 1-4 to face the 0-5 Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday before going into the bye week.
This is as professionally-run an organization as the Vikings have ever had, and if any club can bounce back from this loss, it’s them.
What will keep the coaching staff up at night is that the players have shown they can play with great teams, but they are going to have to start stringing together some victories in a hurry or this is going to be a lost season.
Offense had moments
This was a one-of-a-kind regular-season game.
It is hard to think of any Vikings game that mixed so much incredible offense with so many heartbreaking moments.
The swings in the game just seemed to go back and forth every few possessions in the second half.
But maybe the most impressive thing was how the Vikings offense recovered after falling behind 21-13 in the third quarter, when all of the momentum was with Seattle.
They immediately went on an 11-play, 77-yard drive that took 4:23 and cut the lead to 21-19.
The defense stiffened and forced a punt, but the Vikings were pinned at their own 3-yard line.
That’s when they went 97 yards on 15 plays over 8:11. It was one of the most impressive drives this club has had with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
And it seemed like it was going to be enough to get them the victory when linebacker Eric Wilson made an incredible interception to give the Vikings the ball back late in the fourth quarter.
But it just wasn’t enough as the final breaks didn’t go the Vikings’ way.
And you have to feel for this young defensive group, one that played so great and had Wilson facing fourth down twice on the final drive.
But Wilson is a potential NFL MVP this year and he showed why on Sunday, converting both and getting Seattle the victory.
Sid Hartman firstname.lastname@example.org