What Happened to Vikings in Denver?

Alexander Mattison
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings came in as slight underdogs, so a close loss shouldn’t be that unfathomable. Still, how Kevin O’Connell’s squad got there, and that they did at all, left plenty of questions when the clock hit zeroes. How did the Vikings lose to the Denver Broncos?

What Happened to Vikings in Denver?

Rolling on a five-game winning streak, the Minnesota Vikings had to feel good about their chances against the Denver Broncos. Yes, Kevin O’Connell’s squad was playing Sunday Night Football on the national stage, but that allowed them to show they were more than Josh Dobbs’ current lightning in a bottle. Unfortunately, with ample opportunity to take over the game, they opted against doing so repeatedly.

Happened to Vikings
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Right away, things got off to an ugly start when the Vikings fumbled twice on the opening possession. The second one, where Dobbs was tasked with picking up the first down, looked especially unnecessary. On third and one, putting the quarterback in a spot to take such a hit didn’t seem to make sense. Dobbs coughed the ball up and also briefly headed to the blue medical tent. What should have been flagged as a penalty went uncalled, and Sean Payton’s defense added another incident to his resume.

Despite returning to the game, Dobbs and the Vikings had gone down a path of turnovers becoming a problem again. After Ty Chandler failed to pick up a blitzing Broncos defender, Dobbs threw a gift-wrapped interception. Alexander Mattison also got in on the action when he coughed up the ball just outside of the red zone, and an otherwise promising Minnesota drive went without points.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Beyond just the turnovers, Minnesota’s execution with opportunities in or near the red zone left plenty to be desired. Leading 10-3, the Vikings had a 2nd and goal from the three-yard line that ended with a 34-yard field goal. They couldn’t stop Denver before the half and went in with just a one-point lead despite looking like the better team for the first 30 minutes. Mattison’s third-quarter fumble came close to the red zone, and a later drive saw Minnesota gain zero yards after having a 1st and 10 from the 12-yard line.

It was a frustrating game, with plenty of blame to share. Dobbs looked the part of a pedestrian backup as he routinely threw passes behind his wide receivers. While Mattison had a better game, he still was significantly behind Chandler from a burst and efficiency standpoint. Chandler did cost the Vikings on Dobbs’ interception, but Mattison’s fumble was back-breaking.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota determined that Justin Jefferson wasn’t ready to return this week, and the passing game was rather lackluster as a whole. T.J. Hockenson brought in four receptions for 55 yards, but that was the high-water mark for the group. Jordan Addison was held in check, and aside from Brandon Powell and Josh Oliver sprinkling in, not much else was to be had.

As a whole, the Broncos game is one Minnesota must flush. Plenty of things went wrong, but the most straightforward explanation is back-breaking turnovers that still resulted in only a one-point defeat. Execution when close to the end zone must be better, but a poor game still wasn’t far from an okay result.

Getting the Bears with additional time to rest going into the bye, Minnesota can wipe this one away quickly.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.