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Lengthy Drives Damage Vikings Defense in Loss

MINNEAPOLIS — On a day the Twin Cities were hit with sub-zero temperatures, a snowball effect hit the Vikings defense.

Minnesota gave up three drives of at least 88 yards in Sunday's loss to the Colts, something the Vikings had only allowed four other times this season.

It added up to a disastrous day for a Vikings defense that entered the game ranked first in the NFL in points allowed and second in yards allowed.

"That kills you," Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said of the lengthy drives after a 34-6 home loss. "When you have a team backed up, you have to put your foot on their throat, and we didn't do that.

"We'd get into third-down situations, and they'd get a first down," he added. "When you have teams backed up, you have to execute and get off the field and get a short field for your offense."

The Vikings trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter when punter Jeff Locke pinned the Colts at the 8-yard line.

Indianapolis promptly went 92 yards in nine plays before capping the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass. The Colts picked up 14 yards on the ground and 73 through the air, with five yards coming on a defensive holding call.

Minnesota then drove inside the 10-yard line, but a fumble by Adrian Peterson gave the Colts the ball at their own 9-yard line.

The Colts went 91 yards in 13 plays, getting some help from Minnesota along the way. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen jumped offsides on third-and-5 to keep the Indianapolis drive alive.

Indianapolis added an 88-yard drive in the second half that ended with a 50-yard touchdown pass.

The Colts racked up 271 yards on those three drives, which accounted for roughly two-thirds of the 411 total yards Indianapolis gained Sunday. The Colts possessed the ball for more than 37 minutes.

The Vikings had surrendered just four drives of 88-plus yards this season: a 91-yard drive against the Giants, a 91-yard drive against Washington, and two drives (90 and 92 yards) last Sunday in Jacksonville.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who called the performance of the defense "very poor," said Minnesota had trouble tackling, on third down and in coverage.

"We looked lethargic today," Zimmer said. "I don't know if it was lack of effort … I'll have to look at the tape."

Of the 411 total yards allowed to the Colts, 161 came on the ground. Minnesota did not record a sack, a stat Zimmer attributed to a porous run defense.

"We never stopped the run, so we never had the opportunity to rush the quarterback," Zimmer said.

Munnerlyn said the Vikings "laid an egg" in the worst defensive performance of the season.

"It's embarrassing," Munnerlyn said. "With the work we've put into being a top-five defensive all year long … I think we gave up 411 yards. Wow.

"That's not the guys that have been coming to work each and every day," he added. "We didn't play good as a unit. I can't put my finger on what happened, but we didn't play well at all."

With two games remaining in the 2016 regular season, including Saturday's matchup in Green Bay, Zimmer challenged his team to respond from Sunday's loss.

"Back to work," Zimmer said. "I want to find out who's going to fight because that was not a fighting performance there."

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