Karmen Sands hunched over and grabbed her stomach when asked to reflect on the Vikings Sunday.
“I feel horrible,” the season-ticket holder from Elk River said. “I feel like I aged 40 years [and have] that sick feeling in my stomach.”
The Vikings had just blown a last-second fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime to Detroit 22-16 for a third consecutive loss. The emotional swing in the final moments Sunday left many of the 66,807 fans in attendance with the same sick feeling Sands went home with.
The stadium erupted when Rhett Ellison rushed for a 1-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter to put the Vikings up 16-13 after the extra point. The celebration had begun for some fans heading for the exits.
Then the Lions stunned the remaining crowd by tying the game with a field goal as time expired and making the Vikings defense look bad with a 74-yard game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.
Vikings fans can’t hide their concerns anymore.
“First, it was like, OK, Chicago will cure our problems. Then it was we’ll come home and cure our problems. And now we have to on the road and cure our problems against better teams,” Sands lamented. “Yeah, I think it’s time to panic.”
Longtime Vikings fan Dick Riedel traveled from Denver for Sunday’s game and said he witnessed a team much different than the one that started the season 5-0. He voiced similar concerns about offensive line and special teams that have flared up over the past two weeks.
“It’s definitely time to be worried,” Riedel said. “It’s very unfortunate the way we’re going. … I was pretty confident through five games and now it’s pretty sad. We look like a totally different team. We aren’t the same team we were for five weeks.”
The decline was obvious early in the second quarter after a bad offensive possession for the Vikings. Linebacker Chad Greenway intercepted Detroit quarterback Sam Bradford and returned it 17 yards into the red zone.
Adam Ehlers, 32, from Mankato started to repeat “We have to get this.”
The series played out with two Vikings penalties and two plays for negative yardage capped by Sam Bradford being sacked.
“What the heck just happened?” Ehlers said after the Vikings were forced punt after being pushed out of field-goal range. “It’s pretty frustrating.”
“What the heck just happened?” is what most fans are wondering after the best start in the NFL this year has lost all its momentum nine weeks into the season.
Ian Pringle proudly wore his Vikings horns after yet another loss, but has lowered his expectations for the team.
“You can tell injuries are starting to catchup up with us,” said Pringle, 25, from Rochester. “I think we can finish at least .500, but I think playoffs is getting a stretch here now if we [play] the way we have been. … It’s pretty heartbreaking.”
Brian Markovich has grown numb to the Vikings’ failures, but it is still too soon to start rioting he admitted after yelling “Let’s riot” in the moments after the overtime loss.
“We brought ourselves right back down to reality,” Markovich said, “and now we have to do it like a real championship team.”
Like Markovich, as worrisome as the three-game losing streak may be, Vikings fans still want to believe the season isn’t lost. Sands gathered herself after venting Sunday and concluded “But I’ll still believe.”