KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a game that ended with a frenzied final five minutes, it was the final play of the game that could have gone either way.
The Vikings fell 26-23 against the Chiefs, with Kansas City hitting a 44-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter said he got a piece of Harrison Butker's final kick … just not enough.
"I did tip the ball," Hunter said. "But I've got to do better next time. It grazed my finger."
Butker's attempt fluttered through the uprights, capping off a wild final sequence in which it looked as if each team had grabbed ahold of some late momentum.
Minnesota led 23-20 midway through the fourth quarter but only burned 72 seconds off the clock with a drive that went three-and-out.
Kansas City took possession and ended its drive with a 54-yard field goal, but not before converting on third-and-7 in their own territory.
The Vikings then took control with a chance for a 2-minute drive to take a late lead, but the Vikings lost seven yards in three plays and punted it away.
But even though the Chiefs started at Minnesota's 45-yard line, the first play of a possession that started with 1:47 left on the clock went in the Vikings favor.
Defensive end Stephen Weatherly got to Chiefs quarterback Matt Moore and forced a fumble. Even though Kansas City recovered, the Chiefs suddenly faced second-and-21 at their own 44-yard line with 59 seconds left.
"I got the ball out. It was a fumble.," Weatherly said. "I was right there and started raking at the ball."
Momentum soon swung back the Chiefs way as Moore hit tight end Travis Kelce for 17 yards to get the Kansas City offense back in Vikings territory.
And on third-and-4, Moore evaded heavy pressure and slipped a pass to Tyreek Hill over the middle for 13 yards and a first down at Minnesota's 26-yard line.
"We tried a blitz we ran earlier that ended with a sack-fumble," Weatherly said. "We weren't able to get there in time, and he found that outlet receiver. They were in field goal range.
"It was a chess match the whole time," Weatherly added. "That just means that games like this, with opponents like the Chiefs, we have to take advantage of every possession and not try to put it on the back end."
Butker kicked the game-winner on the next play, avoiding the block by Hunter.
But on a day where the Vikings defense left it all on the field, there was a mix of emotions in the locker room.
"In critical situations, we have to do things better and put ourselves in a better position to win that game," said Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. "We fought. We obviously did a lot of good, but not enough.
"I feel like you always want a couple plays back," Kendricks later added. "I'm very curious to see it on tape. But you always point the finger at yourself … 'What I could have done better?' "
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer offered up his thoughts on an emotional game.
"Game of big plays, they made more of them than we did," Zimmer said. "I thought we fought like crazy; we just didn't play well enough to win.
"I give credit to them. They played well in a lot of areas," Zimmer added. "But we didn't play well enough to win."
Minnesota allowed 377 total yards — including 131 combined yards on a pair of Kansas City touchdowns.
The Vikings defense limited the Chiefs to just four conversions on 13 third-down tries, and sacked Moore five times for a loss of 45 total yards.
View game action images as the Vikings took on the Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.
But it wasn't enough, especially late, as the Vikings defense couldn't make one final play to swing the momentum back in their favor.
"In games like this, you have to make sure you do all the right things with technique and all that stuff," Hunter said. "The team with the lesser mistakes will end up on top. We've got to do better next time.
"It's frustrating," Hunter added. "We fought our tails off out there — offense, defense, special teams. We just have to come back stronger next week."
The 6-3 Vikings are on the road again in Week 10 against Dallas for a matchup on Sunday NightFootball.
"You want these, you need these, especially with the NFC North being as powerful as it is," Weatherly said. "This one stings. But we're going to use this to prepare for the Cowboys next week."