The finality of a Vikings 37-yard field goal being pushed wide right as time expired and resulting in a 34-33 loss Sunday in Arizona will make it a hot topic outside the locker room.
But Vikings players on Sunday quickly pointed beyond the errant kick by Greg Joseph, who drilled two 52-yard field goals but missed an extra point after Minnesota's third touchdown.
For Nick Vigil, who returned an interception of Kyler Murray 38 yards for a touchdown and 30-24 lead early in the third quarter, the game pivoted when Minnesota's defense allowed 10 points inside the first half's 2-minute warning.
"Yeah, that play didn't lose the game. We gave up 10 points right before half. We missed a couple tackles; they were able to get in field goal range," Vigil said. "You can blame it on three or four plays that happened before that where we could've won the game."
View the game action photos from the Vikings-Cardinals game during Week 2.
Minnesota failed to convert a third-and-1 and then punted with a 20-14 lead.
Murray evaded pressure and found Rondale Moore had slipped past a busted coverage.
The throw was as easy as Murray will ever have in the NFL, which is saying a lot since he makes difficult things look routine, and resulted in a 77-yard touchdown. One play, and a one-point lead.
"That was a tough situation for us to be in. Just being in a zone coverage and having a guy break the pocket, you want to make sure you maintain plastering your guy, the guy that you're in front of," said Patrick Peterson, who returned to Arizona for the first time after playing the previous 10 seasons with the Cardinals. "That was a tough bullet to bite right before halftime."
The Vikings responded by driving 41 yards in eight plays and reclaimed a 24-23 lead on Joseph's first 52-yard field goal.
Minnesota, however, left 21 seconds on the clock.
A 45-yard squib kick was returned 14 yards and resulted in the Cardinals starting at their 34-yard line with 16 seconds remaining.
Moore caught a 4-yard pass before getting out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining.
He then danced his way to a gain of 18 to the Minnesota 44-yard line before hitting the sideline with 0:01 left on the clock.
Matt Prater drilled a 62-yarder for a 24-23 edge at halftime.
Those two scores by opponents, along with the pair of touchdowns allowed to the Bengals before halftime in Week 1 at Cincinnati, and that's 24 of the 61 points (39.3 percent) against the Vikings that have been scored inside the 2-minute warnings of first halves.
"We gave up a big touchdown and then the field goal, which ended up being a big part in the game right before the half," Vigil said. "They only had 20-something seconds left and were able to get into field goal range, so as a defense we're gonna have to be better right before the half."
The Vikings offense, which opened with a 64-yard touchdown to K.J. Osborn on its second snap of the game, was unable to reach the end zone in the second half after putting up three touchdowns in the first.
The back-and-forth nature of the game came down to Minnesota starting its final possession at its own 23-yard line with one timeout and 2:09 remaining. A well-timed draw by Dalvin Cook picked up 9 on second-and-7 and was followed by a perfectly executed screen pass to Alexander Mattison for 17 to the Arizona 48.
After consecutive incompletions, including one that was batted at the line of scrimmage, Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a gain of 12 to pick up a third-and-10.
Cousins followed with consecutive completions to K.J. Osborn that totaled 17 more yards to the 19.
Rather than continuing to attack, Head Coach Mike Zimmer opted to allow the clock to tick all the way down until four seconds remained before using his final timeout.
"Yeah, I mean, he hit two 52-yarders or something earlier, right? We wanted to win the game at the end, and we got down there," Zimmer said. "Yeah, I thought about all those things. But the kid made a 53-yarder last week to go into overtime.
"I felt good about that kick. I know he missed the extra point earlier, but it's kind of like that. He's been kicking good, we're indoors, it's a perfect surface," Zimmer added. "I'm thinking, 'This should be an easy one here.' My thoughts on him are, 'He's just gotta continue to be more consistent.' "
Joseph drilled the 53-yarder the previous week to force overtime but didn't get a shot at a game-winner. Instead, Minnesota watched a 33-yarder glide through the uprights.
"He knows we're here for him. Great player and has done a great job putting us in the last two games, really, with the way he's kicked," Cousins said. "What he did last week is no small feat. There were so many plays out there that each one of us, including me, would like to have back."
Two weeks, a couple of plays at critical junctures, and a pair of hollow losses.
"It seems like more than not, almost every game is like that," Cousins said. "So I think it's more the norm than the exception that it's going to come down to the final drive. It just seems that's the way pro football is."
Added Vigil: "We've come down to the last play of the game two weeks in a row. Unfortunately it hasn't gone our way, but very easily could be 2-0 or 1-1, but unfortunately we're 0-2, so we've got a little more work to do."