The "Minneapolis Miracle" ranks as perhaps the greatest moment in Vikings history because of its stakes (sending the team to the 2018 NFC Championship Game) and its suddenness (the touchdown was the first game-winner as time expired in NFL playoff history). But had Marcus Williams' missed tackle and Stefon Diggs' improbable touchdown not occurred, the game likely would have been remembered for the fact the Vikings lost at home despite leading 17-0 at halftime.
The Vikings entered Sunday having never blown a double-digit lead on the way to a home loss under Mike Zimmer. They'd only done it three times on the road — all within a six-week span during the 2014 season — and hadn't surrendered a lead of 10 or more in Minneapolis since Jan. 1, 2012, when they finished a 3-13 season by surrendering a 10-point lead on the way to a 17-13 loss to Chicago.
On Sunday against the Titans, though, the Vikings had a 24-12 lead midway through the third quarter before losing 31-30.
The 2011 and 2014 teams had something in common with the 2020 club: youth, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But while those previous two teams had rookie quarterbacks, the 2020 Vikings have an offense stocked with veterans, which seemed to be what Zimmer expected would help them finish Sunday's game.
"Those guys are all veteran guys, and I want them to take charge in those moments when we have the opportunity to go down and win the football game," Zimmer said Sunday. "Instead, it was chaos. We're going to have to get that squared away."
On Monday, the coach said he thought the drive was "more of a disaster than chaos," adding, "Guys knew what they were doing.
"The first play, Kirk got pressured, and then the second play I think it was the bad snap [from Garrett Bradbury]. But he had a lot of people in his face at that time, so it was hard to get the ball down the field."
In a second half where the Titans punted just once, another defensive stop would have made a difference. Tennessee gained 239 yards on the way to 22 second-half points, and Ryan Tannehill hit throws of 38 yards to Corey Davis and 61 yards to Kalif Raymond on the Titans' two TD drives.
The Vikings' defensive issues weren't confined to their rookies.
On the Davis throw, the Titans ran crossing routes from opposite sides of the field that allowed Cameron Batson to screen Kris Boyd as he tried to chase Davis after the catch, with Anthony Harris in pursuit. On the shot to Raymond, Zimmer said Sunday, both safeties (Harris and Harrison Smith) bit on a route from Anthony Firkser that left Jeff Gladney running alone in coverage.
"I think both guys are just trying to have good vision, having good vision on the QB," Harris said Monday. "It was a good play, a good setup by them. But we've got to play that better. Just being aware of where guys are on the field, where guys are aligned, what our assignment is and the personnel that we're working with, and adjust accordingly."
The blown lead, in the end, seemed to be a group effort. After false start and offside penalties, kicker Dan Bailey also missed a 49-yard field goal in the second half.
As the Vikings try to move on and get their first win of the season on Sunday in Houston, they'll have to shake off the fact they let a victory elude their grasp in a manner they haven't done for years.
"We've got to focus on our individual job, not worry about the defense or other players, just really focus on yourself, hold yourself accountable, keep busting your tail," wide receiver Adam Thielen said. "I think that's important — that you don't kind of let up because it's not going great. ...
"When things are good, it's easy to have energy and be positive, work hard and things like that. But you really find out what kind of guys you have when you're in a tough spot and you're not playing well."