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Barr Picks Off Stafford Twice, but Vikings Still Fall to Rams

MINNEAPOLIS – A big day for personal stats doesn't ease the sting of a significant loss.

That much was clear Sunday afternoon, when linebacker Anthony Barr spoke to media members after a two-interception effort that still ended in a Vikings 30-23 loss to the Rams.

"I mean, we lost the game, so obviously that's a missed opportunity," Barr said.

It's impossible to deny the outing he had against Stafford, though.

Barr's first takeaway occurred late in the second quarter. Deep in his own territory, Stafford threw a short toss to running back Sony Michel that instead was grabbed by the Vikings linebacker and returned to the Rams 11.

His second pick was assisted by Dalvin Tomlinson, who tipped a Stafford pass near the Rams 10-yard line. Tomlinson's obstruction sent the ball bobbling, and Barr came down with it. He almost scored, too, but was stopped by Rams guard Austin Corbett at the 2.

On the following play, Alexander Mattison scored a rushing touchdown.

Barr's pair of picks marked the first time a Viking nabbed two interceptions in a game since Anthony Harris did it Week 1 of the 2019 season.

He was one of two Vikings to intercept Stafford Sunday, joining safety Xavier Woods, and that's not counting a few defenders – including Cameron Dantzler and Patrick Peterson – who got their hands on balls but didn't secure takeaways. Stafford entered the contest having thrown 10 interceptions on the season, which was tied for the league's fifth most.

"We played tight coverage, and I think they're in the top, leading the league in interceptions, and [we] got some hands on some tipped balls, which always helps," Barr said. "Their offense likes to kind of take shots, so we had that covered up on the backside. But it doesn't mean too much with the L."

Despite picking off the former Lion three times, the Vikings failed to sufficiently capitalize on offense.

Barr's first interception, despite setting Minnesota up at the L.A. 11, was followed up by a 23-yard Greg Joseph field goal. And Woods' takeaway to open the third quarter? The offense moved the ball just 18 yards before having to punt it away.

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, who led the team with eight catches for 116 yards, was asked during his postgame press conference if the offense "let the defense down" with an inability to put points on the board.

"For sure. We definitely let them down," Jefferson responded. "I felt like they played a tremendous game, especially with those three turnovers. We've got to find a way to get in the end zone, score, put points on the board, and it'll be a different game if we do that."

View game action photos between the Vikings and Rams during the Week 16 matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Barr refrained from placing blame, though, instead accepting responsibility defensively for the disappointing game.

"Man, we can't worry about what the offense does," Barr said. "We just have to continue to do our job as best we can, minimize scoring drives and continue to get turnovers."

Minnesota's defense limited Stafford to 21-of-37 passing for 197 yards, one touchdown pass and three interceptions. His passer rating of 46.8 was the eighth lowest of Stafford's career.

The Vikings did struggle against the run, though, allowing Sony Michel a season-high (and second highest in his career) 131 yards rushing on 27 carries. Michel also scored a touchdown for the Rams.

"I didn't think it was tackling, necessarily," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "They have a unique scheme where they use the receiver, the extra guy that's over there, to kind of go, and our guys were jumping out at them instead of playing what they were supposed to play, so they ended up getting some big gashes in there."

Barr expanded on the run defense:

"They put guys in positions, our guys in certain positions that they're not necessarily comfortable playing, so we'd have the nickel in the run fit a lot of times, and then sometimes we just missed the gap," he explained. "We were not in our gaps, not in the right spots, so they just out-executed us in the run game."

The Vikings desperately needed a win Sunday to control their own destiny in the postseason.

With two games remaining, they understand that they'll likely need some "help" from other teams to get into the playoffs. But regardless of what the rest of the league does, Minnesota needs to win its final two games.

Barr and his teammates will go back to the drawing board and prep for next weekend's contest at Green Bay, followed by a regular-season finale against the Bears at home.

"We've still got to win the last two games. We can't really worry about scenarios and all that," Barr said. "If we lose, we're out, so we've got to go out and win these last two and let the chips fall where they may."