Vikings Had 1 Pretty Ruthless Gaffe at Lambeau

Vikings Had 1 Pretty Ruthless Gaffe at Lambeau
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One can point to dozens of Minnesota Vikings blunders at Lambeau Field on Sunday, as Kevin O’Connell’s team fell to 12-4 after losing to the Packers, 41-17.

It was one of those all-too-familiar Vikings games throughout team history where everything went mystifyingly rotten. A Vikings fan would see the next bad outcome in her brain, and then it would play out in real life on the television screen. Vibes from the 2000 NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants were evident.

Vikings Had 1 Pretty Ruthless Gaffe at Lambeau

Thankfully for the Vikings sake, the stakes weren’t as high as a conference championship, and the team has a few more chances to rectify the Week 17 performance. Although horrid, Minnesota’s result at Green Bay doesn’t have to be season-defining.

Vikings Had 1 Pretty
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How bad were things in Wisconsin? Well, one particular play vivified the doldrums. While reservist guard-turned-center Chris Reed struggled to snap the football without penalties, Kirk Cousins couldn’t hit a groove, and turnovers flew off the shelf like a clearance sale, the Vikings defense failed to put enough men on the field for a crucial 3rd Down.

Yes, it was the opposite of the Vikings notorious “12 men on the field” gaffe from 2009 versus the New Orleans Saints — if that can be believed.

Vikings Had 1 Pretty Ruthless Gaffe at Lambeau
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Here’s the play. It was 3rd and 10, with the game not yet totally decided. The Packers sought a 1st Down, and of course, they converted. But they did so because the Vikings didn’t have enough players on the field.

Foremost, this is dreadful awareness from the defensive coordinator. And Harry Truman would tell the Vikings that the buck stops here, so O’Connell is accountable, too. The game wasn’t necessarily on the line — the folly would’ve been even more egregious if so — but 10 men on the field instead of 11 was a terrible aesthetic and Xs and Os nightmare.

The Packers offender received Aaron Rodgers’ pass, exceeded the 1st Down marker, and that was that. Football isn’t too difficult when the other team has fewer players on the field. It was an NFL power play.

Kevin O’Connell Is Airing it Out
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In fairness to Ed Donatell (the defensive coordinator) and O’Connell, this is not a 2022 pattern. One of the reasons the Vikings have tabulated 12 wins in 16 games is savvy coaching awareness and avoiding screwups like “not enough players on the field.” The play doesn’t need to fundamentally indict Donatell or O’Connell forever, but it does explain the magnitude of how awful things went for the Vikings at the house of the primary foe.

Next, the Vikings travel to Chicago — the secondary foe — for a Week 18 date with the Bears. Chicago has nothing to play for, the Vikings are close to a lock in the NFC’s No. 3 seed, and O’Connell insists on playing starters.

Perhaps 11 men will be on the field when Justin Fields is sprinting all over the place.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).