KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There aren’t too many teams, if any, that can bring their 12th man into Arrowhead Stadium the way the Vikings and their band of purple-clad zealots did for Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Chiefs.
“Vikings Nation showed up and showed out today,” defensive end Stephen Weatherly said of the thousands of fans who made the six-hour trek down Interstate 35. “This place is designed to make a lot of noise, and we were feeding off the Skol chant. In Kansas City. One of the hardest places to play in the league, if not the hardest.”
How loud did it get in favor of the visitors?
Well, at the 8:34 mark of the fourth quarter, Arrowhead’s sound system operator made the odd decision to crank up the Chiefs’ Tomahawk Chop song with Kansas City’s offense facing third-and-11 while trailing 23-20.
“We still heard the Skol chant,” Weatherly said.
Apparently, so did Chiefs left tackle Cam Ervin. He false-started. At home. In Kansas City.
On third-and-16, the Vikings overloaded the right side of their defensive front with four defenders.
“I was on the nose, and we had a [stunt] going with Stephen and [Everson Griffen] to my right,” said Ifeadi Odenigbo. “Danielle [Hunter] was wide left. I went left, split the center and guard, came through and got the sack.”
It was the first full sack of Odenigbo’s career. And it felt like a huge moment in the game since it produced a Chiefs three-and-out on the heels of the Vikings going 75 yards in 11 plays and scoring a touchdown to take the lead.
“Our defense has been in that situation multiple times,” middle linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “We were feeling good. Our fans were out full force. Can’t ask for much more.”
Actually, one could have asked a lot more from the offense in those final eight minutes.
Granted, the defense contributed to the loss by giving up a 40-yard touchdown pass and a 91-yard touchdown run. But in the aftermath of Odenigbo’s sack, the game could have been won if the offense had shown any life and Britton Colquitt hadn’t feared punt returner Tyreek Hill so much that it caused him to shank a 27-yarder that handed the Chiefs the ball at the Vikings 45-yard line with the score tied 23-23 and 1:47 left.
“It was a great opportunity,” said quarterback Kirk Cousins when asked about Odenigbo’s sack forcing a three-and-out. “I don’t know if you feel like the game is yours. But you certainly have a great opportunity to make it yours and go do something. That’s the disappointment, to not do more with those final two drives.”
Actually, the Vikings did less than nothing on those last two possessions. They ran six plays, burned just 1:55 off the clock, lost 7 yards and let the Chiefs kick a 44-yard walkoff winner after a 19-yard drive that consumed the game’s final 1:47.
Cousins ticked through the six plays and why they spelled defeat.
With a three-point lead, there was the bootleg pass that he overthrew to C.J. Ham. Dalvin Cook’s 3-yard loss. And Cook’s 3-yard run on a very conservative third-and-13 call.
The Chiefs turned that lifeless effort into a game-tying 54-yard field goal.
“Then on the [Vikings’] final drive, we had a dropback pass that got batted down at the line of scrimmage,” Cousins said. “We wanted to work [Stefon Diggs] there on an inside slant. They batted it down. Second down, we ran a screen and they sniffed it out and made a play” by tackling Irv Smith Jr. for a 7-yard loss.
On third-and-17, Cousins was pressured and threw the ball at Cook’s feet to avoid a sack.
At that point, the sea of purple throughout the stadium had been effectively hushed.
“We just couldn’t stay on the field,” Cousins said. “That’s frustrating.”
Vikings fans should still take a bow while booking flights to Los Angeles, where it will be much easier to overtake the Chargers’ home venue.
“The Chiefs tried to drown our fans out with that [Tomahawk Chop] music,” Weatherly said. “But it didn’t work. We could still hear them.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL E-mail: email@example.com