A day that went sideways early for the Vikings ended with a 27-6 win by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Turnovers and horrendous field position quickly eliminated any perceived advantage that heavily favored Minnesota had going into the game.
Minnesota’s players and coaches said they weren’t overlooking previously winless Buffalo on the way to this Thursday’s game against the Rams (3-0) in Los Angeles, but they added that they didn’t do what it takes to get a win in the NFL.
Here are three stats that stood out.
1. 6 runs for 14 yards
The Vikings tied an NFL record for fewest rush attempts by a team in one game (six), joining the Chicago Cardinals (against the Boston Redskins on Oct. 29, 1933), the New England Patriots (against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 31, 2004) and the Arizona Cardinals (against the Vikings on Nov. 26, 2006).
Mike Boone had 11 yards on two carries, and Latavius Murray netted one yard on two carries.
Neither back had a rush attempt in the second half, which the Vikings started trailing 27-0.
The only two rushes by Minnesota after halftime were on two scrambles by Kirk Cousins that netted two yards.
While it’s a convention for teams to rely heavy on the passing game when trailing by multiple scores, the imbalance helped Buffalo’s defense implement speed rushes without maintaining any honesty for defending the run.
The Bills, meanwhile, ran 38 times for 128 yards.
2. 6 Vikings possessions started inside the 15
Minnesota had six of its 12 possessions start inside its own 15-yard line and 11 of 12 start at or inside the 25.
Five of the drives began at the 8 or worse.
A penalty on the Vikings first and second kickoff returns bookended a pair of touchbacks. The penalties pinned Minnesota at the 7 and 8.
The final four possessions started at the 5, 13, 8 and 5 after punts by the Bills, making it difficult for the Vikings to mount a comeback.
Buffalo possessed the football for 35:45. That’s not great for a Vikings defense coming off the Week 2 overtime tie at Green Bay (the Packers held the ball for 38:08) and heading into this short week.
Minnesota ranks 28th in the NFL in time of possession entering Week 4.