A New and Creative Way to Lose

1. They had it. They had the game won.

I don’t care what happened afterward. With 10:39 in the fourth quarter, the score was 9-7 and the Vikings had the game in hand. Dallas was punting and the defense was playing out of its mind. All they had to do was not turn it over. All they had to do was keep doing what they were doing; move the ball a little, pin the Cowboys deep, maybe get a field goal or two. They had it.

But then, the guy who never screws up—Adam Thielen—screwed up. He fumbled the punt in the red zone, and Dallas scored on the next play. The momentum that had been slowly built by long field goal drives was promptly sucked out of the building. Even during the final touchdown drive, and the two-point conversion attempt, and the missed facemask penalty on Sam Bradford, it seemed hopeless. They should’ve had it in the bag.

Even as a lifelong Vikings fan, it’s amazing to me how this team keeps finding new and creative ways to blow games. It’s impressive, really.

Wow. That one hurt.

2. It should’ve been penalty.

Officials are going to miss penalties. But boy oh boy, that was a big, blatant miss on the game’s decisive play.

Um, yes.

It should’ve been half the distance to the goal and another shot at the two-point conversion. No telling if they would’ve gotten it—Bradford airmailed the first one—but the Vikings deserved another shot.

Here’s what I don’t get: you will often hear fans say things like, “the last play didn’t matter. If you can’t do x, y, and z, you don’t deserve to win.” I heard it a lot last night. “They couldn’t score a touchdown all game, couldn’t capitalize on turnovers, gave the ball away when it mattered most…they didn’t deserve to win.” This is supposed to illustrate that a single play (or missed call) doesn’t matter when you commit a number of egregious errors throughout the game. The problem with that is a single play or missed call does matter. Everything matters. No matter how many mistakes the Vikings made in the game, the fact is the officials missed a blatant personal foul call and they should’ve had another chance to tie the game. I’m not saying they would’ve gotten it, but they deserved a chance to get it. I’m just as appalled at the offensive ineptitude as the next guy, but the fact is they did enough to put themselves in that position. And they are owed the fruits of a defensive penalty if one is committed, which it was.

3. Dak Prescott is slippery.

Prescott wasn’t too impressive throwing the ball, as Minnesota’s pass defense was airtight most of the night. But to me, the third biggest story of the game was the way he was able to scramble for first downs and extend drives. He did it a number of times on third down, which is a backbreaker when the team has the play well defended. Clutch plays from the rookie, and another example of something he brings to the table that Romo doesn’t.

4. Brian Robison, game MVP.

Robison only finished with one sack but was disruptive much of the game, and at times looked dominant against the Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line. I would give him the game ball if I had one, which I don’t. Do they give out game balls after losses? Probably not. So the game ball conversation is moot on multiple levels.

Really, the defense as a whole played as well as they had during the five-game win streak, so that’s a glimmer of hope. Dallas broke a few big plays and capitalized on turnovers, and that was most of its offense. The Vikings defense put the team in a very favorable, winnable position.

5. Is there a way for TJ Clemmings to be taken off the field?

At all costs, I try to avoid being necessarily mean, because there’s a person inside of that helmet, and it’s just football. It’s not something I set out to do. But here’s my honest opinion: Clemmings is one of the worst professional football players I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe this is an overstatement. He is completely blown up by the defender on at least half of the passing downs. He is more responsible for the offensive struggles than any other single person.

The problem is, due to the blitz of injuries, there’s really nowhere the Vikings can go if they remove Clemmings from the lineup. I know because I was scouring the roster midway through the game for replacements. As far as I can tell, the only courses of action would be to activate Austin Shepherd from the practice squad, or insert Rashod Hill (a name with which I’m unfamiliar) at left tackle. I would be open to trying either of these options at this point.


I quite enjoyed this tweet. It isn’t that easy, folks.


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Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

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  1. On two third downs I didn’t like calling plays called for Treadwell. The first, a long pass that displayed the rookies’ incredibly average speed and lack of separation. The second, a down and out that Treadwell executed poorly. Why call his number then?

  2. Haven’t seen or heard anything that has caused me to feel I was wrong about the Vikings not picking a WR in the first round last year…wanted to go OL or LB.

    Hope they make some good decisions in FA and the draft (without a first round pick) to address the OL.

  3. As I read in another article in the most important play in the game it appears the refs weren’t even paying attention.
    Goodall is like cagily a or Nero as Rome burns he is fiddling and NFL briefs are declining. Robison is correct the refs suck.

  4. Clemmings, Treadwell, C.J., if we can keep those guys off the field, that’d be great.
    Rudolph dropping a TD. Bradford…I don’t know what to think about him. Of course I didn’t like the trade. He seems okay, but that’s it. Is okay worth a 1st rounder? If he’s good, why are we the worst offense? We would be 6-6 with Hill! Maybe time to put in Hienke…or whatever his name is.
    It’s a damn shame, this defense is playing their hearts out. One of the best. Top 3 for sure. And we sit at 6-6, hard to overcome the sorry state of this offense.

  5. If only the Vikes didn’t have to spend every draft pick on the OL this year, they need a TE who is consistent every game and doesn’t drop TDs in the End Zone.

    I get it, it wasn’t an easy catch, but he had both hands on it and dropped it, again, which I’ve seen more of in Rudolphs career than anything else, besides being injured of course.

    As for Clemmings, Try him out at right guard, maybe he would be marginally better there, as Fusco is usually on his back getting bowled over.

    Boone to LT, Berger at LG, Easton @ C, Fusco/Clemmings @ RG, Sirles @ RT might be the best OL combo they have the rest of the season.

  6. You can’t build a O line with 4-7 round draft picks and undrafted free agents. On top of that you then pick O linemen from division II. What do you expect. This draft you pass on several very good lineman between rounds 1-4. You need to build an O line that will keep the QB on their feet and open running lanes. Look at Dallas’ line, they a a weak rookie QB, but an O line of beef that protects him. It’s not rocket science.