Five Positives From Sunday's Loss In Baltimore

Posted Dec 8, 2013

In an instant classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the Vikings and Ravens slugged it out for three quarters – combining for just 13 points – and then lit up the scoreboard in the 4th quarter – combining for 42 points – and when all the snow settled, the Ravens came out on top by a score of 29-26.

Outcome is key in the NFL, and the Vikings came out on the wrong end of this one. But many positives transpired in Sunday’s loss. Here are five of them… 

1. The offense (21 points in 4th quarter) came alive when it counted
Given the weather and conditions of the playing surface, stringing together consecutive positive plays on offense was a challenge all afternoon. In fact, going into the 4th quarter the Vikings and Ravens had combined for just 20 first downs, 13 points and one touchdown.  In the final period, though, the teams combined for 42 points, with the Vikings scoring three touchdowns.

Just as they showed last week in the overtime win over Chicago and several other times this season, the Vikings showed great heart and would not go away. After claiming a lead early in the 4th quarter following the first touchdown of Jerome Simpson’s Vikings career, the Ravens reclaimed the lead with 2:05 to play in the game. Minnesota responded with another touchdown – Toby Gerhart’s 41-yard run – and then Baltimore scored on the ensuing kickoff to reclaim the lead once again. But deflated the Vikings were not. Three plays into the next drive, rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was gliding into the end zone after knifing through and dodging around the Baltimore defense for a 79-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, Baltimore drove down yet again and stole the lead, this time for good, but the Vikings offense was game in the 4th quarter and was able to drive down the field and put up points with the pressure building.

2. The defense turned Joe Flacco over three times
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is tough to beat at M&T Bank Stadium – he is 40-8 in his home building and has just 27 career interceptions at home compared to 43 interceptions on the road. The Vikings defense, furthermore, hasn’t had great success in accumulating interceptions against opposing passers. But that changed on Sunday in Baltimore, as the Vikings intercepted Flacco three times. Chad Greenway ended Baltimore’s game-opening drive with an interception along the Ravens sideline, Andrew Sendejo made a diving pick on Flacco in the 3rd quarter and Marcus Sherels out-battled Jacoby Jones for an interception along the Vikings sideline in the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, the Vikings scored just seven points off those three interceptions, but there’s no question those three interceptions should serve as confidence boosts for a Vikings defense that is trying to find ways to create more turnovers.

3. A day of firsts for four Vikings
As mentioned above, both Sendejo and Sherels grabbed interceptions off Flacco on Sunday. Those are the first career interceptions for both. Other firsts on the day include the first touchdown for Simpson wearing Vikings purple; Simpson had four grabs for 48 yards on the day and his touchdown gave the Vikings the lead early in the 4th quarter. And Patterson recorded his first career 100-yard receiving day, going over the century mark when he took a short pass late in the game and turned it into a 79-yard touchdown that will surely be one of the more impressive Vikings touchdowns of the 2013 season.

4. Toby Gerhart filled in well for an injured Adrian Peterson
The Vikings are a team built to run, with the centerpiece of their running offense being the best running back in the NFL – Adrian Peterson. When you’re a team built to run, you better have more than one capable runner in your stable. The Vikings have just that with Toby Gerhart, who once again proved the Vikings wise for having such a productive, reliable backup behind the reigning MVP. Peterson left the game in the 2nd quarter and from there, Gerhart carried the load. He finished the game 89 rushes and one touchdown on 15 carries, with the touchdown coming with 1:27 remaining in the 4th quarter and giving the Vikings a 19-15 lead. Time and again, Gerhart showcases that he can be a consistent and productive running back in the NFL. The Vikings have been fortunate to have him in reserve several times over the course of his career in Minnesota.

5. The Vikings don’t quit
We touched on this a bit in #1, but it’s clear the Vikings have a roster of players that refuses to quit, even in the midst of a 3-9-1 season that has fallen short of expectations. Several times in last week’s game against Chicago, the Vikings could’ve folded like lawn chairs and packed it in for the day. They refused to, and instead clawed their way to an overtime victory. It happened again in Baltimore on Sunday, but unfortunately the Vikings came out on the wrong end of a closely-contested battle that came down to the final seconds.