Another winnable game slipping through our hands. As much as we all want our team to make the playoffs, we also have to acknowledge that we are not going to beat any team in the playoffs playing like this. Turnovers aside, we have to stop playing not to lose and start playing to win. I think the play calling was very good. Up until it mattered the most. TE pitch to a QB run, a couple Wild Cat formations. That’s what this game is about. Be creative, have fun with it! But what happened after the fake punt? 31-yard gain, offense fired up ready to roll! Go for it on fourth down (twice I think?) keeping the pedal to the metal. And then all of a sudden, we get first-and-10 in the red zone and what happened? We turn the offensive play calling sheet around and start calling vanilla plays? It’s 17-15, and we can put this game away with a touchdown. So what do we do? Run on first down for no gain. OK, fine, was worth a shot. Now what? Basically the same run for no gain again? So now it’s third-and-10? Where were those creative plays we saw earlier? Where were those plays when we needed them the most? Instead, we settle for a field goal and keep them in the game. The defense held them to nine points off three turnovers, and that’s amazing! They did their job. But that was time for the offense to put the game away and they didn’t. I understand the argument of “Well, we already had three turnovers and can’t risk another one,” but I don’t agree with it. What do you tell a QB after they throw an interception? Shake it off and move onto the next play. And that’s exactly what a play caller should do as well. This isn’t the first time we have played not to lose and lost. I really hope this coaching staff can finally learn that no one wins championships playing not to lose. They preach to the players about a championship mindset. They need to set a better example.
— Mike (Heartbroken fan from Jacksonville, Florida)
I really think protecting the football, particularly when telling Vikings players what had been working well for Denver lately, was preached excessively by Vikings coaches last week, and it didn’t happen.
“It feels like there was a lot of things we did to try to win the football game, but the number one thing we talked about to make sure we tried to come in here and do, we did not do,” O’Connell said. “We lost that turnover battle, and it should be something that we’re going to talk about, we have talked about and clearly, it’s a winning and losing stat in this league. No matter what you do, every other play in the game, you’re just setting yourself behind and have to overcome even if you do have the lead.
“As you manage your way through the football game with those turnovers, you’re missing out on opportunities, you’re missing out on more time of possession, you’re missing out on chances for three even if you don’t finish in the red zone with touchdowns,” O’Connell added. “We’ve got to find a way to get back to doing what we’ve been doing as of late which was winning that battle, turning the football over, capitalizing on it if it gets thrown to us, all the things that we’re emphasizing and talking about.”
A couple other teams have lingered and hung around in games this season, and Denver wound up being able to take advantage of its staying power.
There’s still more than a third of the regular season remaining, and the Vikings withstood injuries to key players during their five-game win streak. It will be interesting to see where things go, especially with four division games down the stretch.
First appeared on www.vikings.com