View game action images as the Vikings take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Vikings had just kicked a field goal to tie the game at 10 late in the third quarter Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
Minnesota was hanging with New England, a perennial AFC powerhouse with five Super Bowl titles. The Vikings were managing the damage caused by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a four-time Super Bowl MVP whom many consider to be the greatest ever at his position.
The game was there was the taking before it took less than two minutes for the Patriots to regain the lead for good.
Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam.
Brady and the Patriots put together a four-play, 75-yard drive that spanned just one minute and 45 seconds, and the Vikings never recovered.
"We weren't sticking to our keys and doing what we needed to do on those plays," said Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly. "They hit us quick."
Added Vikings safety Harrison Smith: "They made plays, and we didn't do enough to stop them."
Minnesota gave up 150 total yards in the third quarter on three drives. New England spanned 75 yards on their first two drives but came up empty-handed on the scoreboard.
The touchdown drive went 75 yards, and it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
The first play of the drive was a 24-yard completion from Brady to wide receiver Josh Gordon, who slipped out of the grasp of Marcus Sherels, who was in due to injuries to Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes.
Brady then hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for 15 yards before running back James White picked up 12 yards on the ground.
Brady capped the drive by finding Gordon for another 24-yard gain, but this one ended when the wide receiver eased into the end zone.
"I saw him catch it and score it, man. Good throw," Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said of the sequence. "[Gordon is] a big guy, target. Been doing it for years … we've got to do better."
Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: "We played the one touchdown pass wrong, and we missed the tackle – I didn't think we tackled very well tonight, defensively."
The touchdown pass was Brady's only one of the game, but it was a milestone moment for him. It was the future Hall of Famer's 508th career touchdown pass, which tied him for third all-time with Brett Favre.
Smith credited both the quarterback and the wide receiver on the touchdown.
"He's a good player, obviously. And Tom Brady," Smith said. "I don't think those were, like, epic breakdowns. We've just got to play [better]."
The touchdown was the first allowed by Minnesota's defense in the third quarter since Week 4 against the Rams. The Vikings entered Week 13 ranked sixth in the league by allowing just 39 third-quarter points.
Minnesota never countered on offense after the scoring drive, either, as the Vikings final four possessions ended with a punt, a turnover on downs and a pair of interceptions.
"We made plays to give ourselves a chance in the third quarter of a tight game," said Vikings running back Latavius Murray. "But just kind of had a little domino effect once they went and scored, and we weren't able to put some points on the board. When you beat yourself, it's hard to beat the other team."
The Vikings now find themselves at 6-5-1 with the final quarter of the season left to go. Minnesota is jockeying for playoff positioning and travels to Seattle in Week 14 for a big-time conference tilt on Monday Night Football.
Smith said he expected Minnesota's defense to rebound from a few moments of frustration from Sunday night's loss.
"Playing in games, big games, and losing and winning and being in all these different scenarios, you do learn along the way and you learn what it takes to overcome these types of things," Smith said. "You stick together. The bad teams start pointing fingers.
"There's accountability, absolutely," Smith added. "But we're going to stick together and move forward."