The Vikings began the final quarter of the regular season with a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks and the adventure did not go as planned. Seattle came out on top 21-7 in a game that was stuck on 6-0 in favor of Seattle late in the 4th quarter. The loss dropped the Vikings to 6-6-1 on the season with three games to play.
Here are five takeaways from the Vikings loss to Seattle on Monday night.
1. Short yardage was a big problem for the offense
The Vikings finished the game with only seven points, but it was not for lack of opportunity. Perhaps the biggest thorn in the offense's side was short-yardage situations, where they failed to convert on 3rd and 1 three times and on 3rd and 3 twice. The Vikings offense also failed to convert on 4th and 1 twice, including on a crucial goal line stand in the 4th quarter where the Vikings couldn't punch it on from the Seattle 4 on four tries. These missed opportunities ended possessions and resulted in too many points left off the scoreboard.
2. Russell Wilson couldn't throw it, but he could run it versus Vikings defense
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 37.9. For the game. Not on just one drive. That was Wilson's stat line as a passer. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Wilson overcame the shortcomings in the passing game by making plays with his legs. Wilson carried the ball seven times for 61 yards (8.7 yards per rush), an effort that included a back-breaking 40-yard dash on 2nd and 8 with 4:56 to go in the 4th quarter. Wilson's longest run on the night led to a Seahawks touchdown that gave the home team a 14-0 lead.
3. Danielle Hunter was a handful
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter's career season continued on Monday night. He was particularly good for the Vikings defense in the red zone. Hunter had a sack early in the 2nd quarter on 3rd and 9 to stall a possession and force a field goal try. Then on 1st and goal from the Minnesota 1 with only 16 seconds to play in the first half, Hunter got into the Seattle backfield and pressured Wilson into a poor decision and bad throw that resulted in an Eric Kendricks interception. Hunter wasn't the only Vikings defender to have a good night. Linval Joseph led the team in tackles with 10 (unofficially), Anthony Barr also had a sack, Anthony Harris was around the ball seemingly on every play and rookie cornerback Holton Hill filled in admirably for starter Trae Waynes.
4. Officiating mistake on blocked field goal took second chance away from Vikings
The Vikings made plenty of their own mistakes that put them in compromising positions on the night, but a crucial officiating error late in the game stole a second chance from the Vikings. Bobby Wagner illegally used his teammates for leverage as he leapt over the line of scrimmage to block a Dan Bailey field goal attempt with 5:46 to play in the game. The officials got the call correct initially, but then picked up the flag, resulting in Seattle taking possession rather than an extended drive for the Vikings that could've resulted in a field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3 or perhaps even a touchdown to give the Vikings a chance at an extra point and a 7-6 lead late in the game.
5. Margin for error even slimmer for Vikings playoff chances
No loss is easy to take but Monday night's loss is especially frustrating for a talented Vikings team that had high expectations heading into 2018 and now sits a six wins with only three games to play. The good news for the Vikings is that fellow NFC wild card contenders Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington all lost this weekend, too. Heading into Week 15, the Vikings hold the No. 6 seed in the projected NFC playoff field but the three aforementioned NFC foes all each have six wins; the Vikings currently get the nod by virtue of their tie (and half win) with Green Bay. Chicago defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13 to improve their mark to 9-4, meaning the Vikings would have to win out and the Bears would have to lose out in order for the Vikings to defend their division title and host a playoff game in the wild card round. The more likely path to the postseason for the Vikings will be as one of the two wild cards.