Ravens Beat the Vikes-Battle of Purple Blunders

Vikings Territory Breakdown: S4E9 Podcast: Vikings let Ravens off the hook with Joe Oberle and Star Tribunes Mark Craig.

The Vikings, to paraphrase former Minnesota head coach Denny Green, knew who the Baltimore Ravens were and let them off the hook. A tired defense was being gashed in overtime by Lamar Jackson and his league-leading offense when linebacker Anthony Barr made a fantastic individual effort to block a Jackson pass, tip it to himself and put the Vikings offense just 25 yards from a potential game winning field goal. But the Vikings offense, which had just put together a 10-play 75-yard game-tying touchdown drive, went three and out.

The Vikings knew that Lamar Jackson would run over their short-handed defense (missing four starters coming in and five before the end)—and he ran for 120 yards. They knew the Ravens defense would be stout in the middle (holding Dalvin Cook to just 44 yards outside his 66-yard gallop in the first half). They knew the Ravens would not give in at home, having won comeback games earlier this season.

Yet, when they had the chance to finish them off, like they have had the chance to do several times in close ballgames this season, the Vikings gained just one yard on three plays and gave the ball back to the Ravens, who did just what we thought they would do—win the game 34-31 on a Justin Tucker 37-yard field goal.

Vikings let the Ravens off the hook (just like they did the Bengals,, Cardinals and Cowboys). And in the process, the Vikings showed us who they are: a team that is not good enough to win close games. A team that is not confident enough to put their boot on the throat of opponent who is reeling and defeated. A team that will either make a mistake in a big moment or won’t take the riskier route to make a play that will ice the game. They instead choose the conservative route and merely hope that things work out in the end.

Well, things do end for the Vikings, but they don’t exactly work out. They are now 3-5 with a game on the road against the AFC West co-leading Los Angeles Chargers and then a home game against the Green Bay Packers who will have an angry quarterback returning to the helm. Last week I took my figurative fork out of the Vikings, thinking perhaps the Vikings could pull out a miracle, but they showed us who they are: a talented team lacking in killer instinct and leadership at the time they need it most. Stick the fork back in them.

Come join Mark Craig from the Star Tribune and myself on the Vikings Territory Breakdown podcast as I try not to break down while analyzing another Viking defeat stolen from the jaws of victory. If there were a title for finding a wicked way to lose game after game, we would have to “crown‘em,” because Minnesota is King of That!