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Vikings Lament Missed Chances after Elimination from Playoffs

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings will not be among the league's 14 playoff teams, as Minnesota was bounced from postseason contention Sunday night.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that he still plans to play the starters in the season finale against the Bears in Week 17.

But the primary mood Monday among the Vikings was one of regret, as the team lamented missed chances and too much inconsistent play that led to the current 7-9 record.

Zimmer on Monday rattled off a list of close games (the Vikings have been in plenty) where a play here or a play there might have been the difference between a playoff spot and sitting at home come next week.

"Right now, I'm just focused on Chicago, but I will say this, OK?," Zimmer said. "We fumbled the ball in overtime against Cincinnati, we gave up a touchdown at the end of the game against Dallas.

"We missed a field goal against Arizona. We lost in overtime against Baltimore. We gave up a pass on the last play of the game against Detroit," Zimmer continued.

"So those are critical things that happened throughout the course of the year," Zimmer added. "You hit half of those, you are in the playoffs. Every game comes down to it. It is what it is."

All but two of Minnesota's 16 games have been decided by one score, with the Vikings holding a 6-8 record in such games.

Each phase has played a role in the inconsistencies, too.

Minnesota's defense had too many poor moments, many of which came in the final two minutes of first or second halves. To date, the Vikings have allowed 120 total points in that timespan this season.

Vikings safety Xavier Woods pointed out the struggles on Monday.

"I would just say we weren't consistent," Woods said. "Not just through the last stretch, but throughout the entire year.

"It showed throughout the season, we were giving up points in the last two minutes of the half and the game," Woods added. "You can point to that for our inconsistencies throughout the year, as far as defense."

Offensively, the Vikings have a strong collection of talent with a 1,000-yard rusher (Dalvin Cook), 1,000-yard receiver (Justin Jefferson) and a quarterback in Kirk Cousins whose passer rating of 101.3 ranks fifth in the league.

But that unit has had too many stop-and-start efforts, and that's excluding Sunday night when Cousins didn't play. The offense scored just three points in the first half against the Rams and struggled to make plays against a depleted Bears defense in Week 15.

"There have been ups and downs, so that's just how this game goes," said receiver K.J. Osborn. "You've got to fight, you've got to bounce back and keep pushing. At the end of the day, you evaluate and see if you can come back better next week."

Special teams has been mostly solid under first-year coordinator Ryan Ficken, with Kene Nwangwu's pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns highlighting that unit's effort. But they also gave up a punt return for a score against the Rams and couldn't produce enough game-turning plays.

The end result is a team that is 7-9 for the second straight season, with the 2021 version still having one game left to play because of this season's expansion to 17 games.

But that game means little in the standings (unless you're already looking at the 2022 draft order), as the 2021 Vikings are frustrated and unsatisfied with Sunday's season finale looming.

"The idea is that we get a chance to compete one more time," Zimmer said. "That's what we get to do. This is why we do this, to go out and compete."