The Vikings expected — and got — a playoff atmosphere on Monday in Seattle.
The scoreboard that shows a 21-7 Vikings loss to the Seahawks will look convincing, but Minnesota can lament another round of missed opportunities in critical situations that could have made a redeye flight home somewhat enjoyable.
Pregame question: How would Minnesota fare when starting the final quarter of the season in a postseason atmosphere?
Minnesota fell to 1-4 in prime-time games this season, with every loss occurring against a team that also would be in the NFC Playoffs (Rams, Saints Bears, Seahawks).
The Vikings haven't played completely and complementary enough to win in prime time. Three of the four losses have occurred on the road, but it's looking like Minnesota will be the last team in the field in the NFC — if it is to make the playoffs.
In-game action: Offense
The Vikings offense seems to be zigging when it needs to be zagging.
Minnesota didn't run a snap in Seattle territory in the first half.
A promising opening drive with a 15-yard pass and a 6-yard run on two of the first three plays was sideswiped by a run for no gain and a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-4.
A 9-yard sack on a third-and-3 from the 40 undercut the ability to improve field position on special teams.
In four first half possessions (not counting a one-play kneel-down), the Vikings totaled 19 plays and 72 net yards.
After netting 54 yards on 13 plays in the third quarter, Minnesota totaled 156 on 24 plays in the fourth quarter.
The frustration intensified when Minnesota was unable to score on four plays from the Seattle 4-yard line.
Latavius Murray rushed for 2 yards on first down. A pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen was well covered and incomplete on second down. Dalvin Cook rushed for 1 from the 2 on third down, setting up a fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Cousins targeted Kyle Rudolph, but the tight end was covered and the pass fell incomplete.
Minnesota's next possession started at the Seattle 41 and didn't result in points.
All told, the Vikings were 2-for-10 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on what can be done to help the offense:
"That's a good question. Keep at it. Keep trying to find things that we're good at," Zimmer said. "We didn't score many points tonight. We didn't score a lot of points last week [at New England]. Part of it is being better on third downs. We haven't really done a good job there. Part of it's being better in the red zone. We had the ball on the 2-yard line and didn't score. So, you keep doing things like that, you're not going to score many points."
Cousins on the goal-to-go struggles:
"They covered us well on second down and fourth down – those were plays where I just felt like they had pretty good coverage," Cousins said. "Could have probably fit it in there to somebody else, but where I was looking to go with the ball was well-defended. Then third down we ran the ball and didn't get there; first down we ran the ball and didn't get there. So, you ran it twice, threw it twice – they covered the passes well, and they stopped the run enough to prevent us from getting in."
Dalvin Cook on not executing:
"It's frustrating to not execute. I'm going to nip this in the bud. Fourth-and-1s, we didn't execute. We've got to put it together, go back to the drawing board and figure out what we need to do. Every situation that we didn't execute, it's frustrating. We want to execute every situation. We practice so hard. Coach Zim' tells us the right things we need to do. He puts us in the right place, all of the coaches put us in the right place. We just didn't execute, so every situation that we failed is frustrating. We've got to fix it, watch film and get it right."
Stefon Diggs on the recent lack of execution:
"We're a couple of plays away, a misstep here or a minor detail of the game, an intricacy of the game that we've got to lock in."
In game action: Defense
The Vikings defense yielded rushing yards but not points during the first half.
Eric Kendricks came up with an interception at the end of the second quarter to keep points off the board, but a bobbling of the football caused him to fall to the ground. He had no doubt that he would have scored had he caught it cleanly.
A halftime score of 3-0 was better than it could have been, but the Vikings could have taken a 7-3 edge.
The other play that Minnesota will want back was a 40-yard scramble by Russell Wilson that set up the Seahawks only offensive touchdown.
Whenever a team prepares for Wilson, they talk about the importance of containing him in the pocket.
Wilson, however, was able to get 40 of his 61 rushing yards when containment was lost. Minnesota limited Wilson to just 72 yards through the air and a passer rating of 37.9.
Kendricks on the interception
"I just bobbled it. Maybe I was running before I caught it," Kendricks said. "I was happy we stopped that play. But I feel like if I score on that play, then we get a little more momentum going into the half. That's my fault.
"I have to do better. Everyone has to do better," Kendricks added. "Everyone has to point at themselves first, and we have to start making these plays. We just have to start winning. We have to band together and start doing the little things right."
Anthony Harris on the Vikings needing to put it all together:
"We're not performing the way we want to perform right now, so obviously that can be frustrating," Harris said. "But looking at where we are now, we still have a chance to accomplish the things we want to accomplish. It's just all about coming together and pushing through and finding a way to come out with a W."