The Grinch Visited Vikings on Christmas. 3 Times.

The Grinch looms above the field at MetLife Stadium. The New York Jets game up a 20-0 lead and were down 27-28 with less than a minute to go before winning on 54 yard field goal, Sunday December 24, 2023. © Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK.

As a matter of football, Christmas was not kind to the Minnesota Vikings — at all.

The purple team lost at home in front of its fans on Christmas Eve to the Detroit Lions, a squad that won its first division crown in three decades.

The Grinch Visited Vikings on Christmas. 3 Times.

Next up for the Vikings — on another holiday — are the Green Bay Packers on New Year’s Eve at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Packers’ playoff hopes are alive, and Matt LaFleur’s team will have everything to play for next Sunday night.

The Grinch Visited
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

On the whole, Christmas was quite miserable for the 7-8 Vikings. Here’s why.

1. Possibly Fatal Loss to DET

The Gringe Visited
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The loss to Detroit may have been the death blow to Minnesota’s once-promising season; that will be revealed in a few weeks when fans and pundits do faux Vikings’ autopsies.

The Vikings have a 27% chance of reaching the postseason after losing to the Lions and must win its next two games while hoping the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks lose a single game — just one — between them.

If Kevin O’Connell’s team had prevailed on Christmas Eve, the playoff math could’ve climbed to 75% or so. The defeat was that lethal. There’s also a chance that Vikings fans begin scoreboard-watching as early as next weekend, which is never ideal, especially because Minnesota “controlled its own destiny” a few days ago.

The Vikings needed to take care of business at home but did not. In fact, the franchise is 2-5 at home, its worst mark in the history of U.S. Bank Stadium through Week 16 of a season.

2. Reports on T.J. Hockenson Are Horrible

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ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweeted on Christmas day, “Initial outlook is ‘not good’ on Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson’s knee injury, per source. Team hoping to be surprised by today’s MRI but bracing for damage. Hockenson put together another Pro Bowl-type season with 95 catches for 960 yards and five TDs.”

A few hours after the Vikings lost to the Lions, two sources told VikingsTerritory that Hockenson had torn his ACL and that there was concern about his MCL. His recovery could bleed into the 2024 season if the worst is confirmed.

Hockenson was on the cusp of becoming the Vikings’ first 1,000+ yard tight end in 32 years. Joe Senser achieved the mark in 1981, and Hockenson will presumably fall 40 yards short. When wide receiver Justin Jefferson was injured for seven games in October and November, Hockenson was often the glue holding the offense together.

No Hockenson is brutal for the final two games of 2023 if one believes reaching the playoffs is achievable. And it’s particularly gruesome when considering his prognosis for 2024 is unknown.

3. The “Other” Injuries

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Losing Hockenson as a standalone event would’ve been terrible enough, but that wasn’t all. Starting outside linebacker D.J. Wonnum injured his quad, ending his season in Week 16.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Monday, “Vikings’ OLB DJ Wonnum, in the midst of a career year with 62 tackles and 8 sacks, suffered a partially torn quad, source said, an indication he’s played his last down this season. Coach Kevin O’Connell said it was serious, adding: ‘You can see what DJ means to our team.'”

Rookie wideout Jordan Addison is “week to week” with an ankle sprain. Cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, also a rookie, hurt his shoulder versus the Lions, with no immediate update on severity.

A Black Sunday, indeed.

For context, Minnesota has lost several other players for the season in 2023, including Kirk Cousins (QB), Cam Akers (RB), Dean Lowry (DT), Oli Udoh (OT), and James Lynch (DL). Outside linebacker Marcus Davenport’s injury status is also up in the air as of December 25th.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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