Vikings vs. Ravens: Takeaways from Minnesota's 29-26 Loss to Baltimore
The result of the Minnesota Vikings' 29-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens came down to the team who had the ball last. The Ravens' game-winning touchdown left only four seconds on the clock. If there had been more time left on the clock, the Vikings would have tied it up with a last-second field goal, and the game would have gone into overtime.
That would have really ratcheted up the weirdness factor for this game that saw 36 points scored in the final 2:05 of the game.
This scoring barrage came on the heels of the Ravens leading only 7-3 at halftime and 7-6 after three quarters.
Here are some takeaways from another roller-coaster finish for the Vikings.
Baltimore's Defense Was Not as Good as It Has Been
Heading into the game, the Baltimore Ravens had the 10th-ranked defense in the NFL.
At home this season, the Ravens were 5-1 and had allowed only an average of 12.3 points per game. With only 15 minutes left in the game, they had limited the Minnesota Vikings to only two field goals.
The Vikings were able to score 20 points in the fourth quarter, as the leads changed six times in the final quarter.
In the end, the Vikings defense was unable to come up with a stop as the Ravens scored 22 points in the final quarter.
The Ravens defense had given up an average of 329 yards per game. The Vikings had 379 total net yards against them.
This Is Looking More and More Like 2011
The devastating blow to the Vikings came in Week 16 of the 2011 season. That's the game where Adrian Peterson was helped off the field in a game against the Redskins, and his season ended with a horrible knee injury.
This season, as the Vikings try to exceed the three-win mark again, Peterson was helped off the field again. Fortunately, according to a tweet from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Peterson told his teammates he will be all right.
Late in the second quarter, Peterson was injured on a pass play to the sideline. As he was tackled, it appeared that his ankle was rolled. Head coach Leslie Frazier, in his postgame press conference, indicated that Peterson had a sprained right ankle and that he will have an MRI Monday morning.
This Has to Be Exactly the Kind of Game the Fans Want to See Now.
For those fans that want the Vikings' draft position to improve, this was a great game.
They showed that they could play against a good team (at least a team that is now 6-1 at home) in tough conditions and show some resilience on offense.
The Vikings came back three times from a deficit in the fourth quarter.
The game was entertaining, with some big plays on offense, and with the loss, the Vikings would currently have the fourth pick in the draft.
Cordarrelle Patterson Is the Real Deal
It took some time, but the Minnesota Vikings finally figured out that Cordarrelle Patterson should be starting.
He has only started two games this season, but he's showing that he deserves to be the starter.
In a preview of what next season will look like, Patterson started along with Greg Jennings at wide receiver.
Both Jennings and Patterson finished tied with a team-high five catches against the Ravens. Patterson turned his five receptions into 141 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 28.2 yards per catch.
His stats were buoyed with a 79-yard touchdown on a screen pass. On a 3rd-and-10 in the fourth quarter, Patterson took the pass at the line of scrimmage. He allowed the blocking to develop in front of him and then outran the defense as he sliced his way through the Ravens for the touchdown.
If only he was given the chance to start at the beginning of the season.
Sometimes You Win the Turnover Battle and Still Lose the Game.
The Minnesota Vikings came into the game against the Baltimore Ravens with eight interceptions. That ranked them 25th in the NFL.
They picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco three times—and there should have been a fourth—to win the turnover battle by two. Chad Greenway had his team-leading third interception in the game, and safety Andrew Sendejo and cornerback Marcus Sherels had their first career interceptions.
Sherels' interception was only the second by a Minnesota cornerback this season.
A fumble by running back Toby Gerhart—that should have been overturned, but we won't go there, yet—gave the Vikings a plus-two advantage in turnovers.
According to a report from Water Cooler Sports, when a team is plus-two on turnovers, they win the game 81 percent of the time.
It figures with the season the Vikings have been having, they would end up on the short end of another statistic.
Chris Cook Is Really Bad
Perhaps I'm being too harsh on cornerback Chris Cook. It might not have been his job to cover tight end Ed Dickson on a 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter.
It's just that as Dickson caught the ball as he stood wide open in the end zone, Cook was the closest player to him.
It would have been nice to see Cook come up with a big play and prevent a touchdown—at least for one more play.
He is still looking for the first interception of his career—something that cornerback Marcus Sherels and safety Andrew Sendejo are no longer doing.
Toby Gerhart Comes Up Big Again
Running back Toby Gerhart is proving he can be an effective running back in the NFL.
Coming into the game against the Ravens, Gerhart had 194 yards on only 21 carries—that computes into an average of 9.2 yards per carry.
He didn't do anything to hurt that on Sunday.
Taking over for Adrian Peterson, Gerhart finished with 89 yards on 15 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown run. His average dropped to 7.9 yards per carry.
That's still pretty good compared to Peterson, who is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this year and had a 6.0 average last season when he led the league with 2,097 yards.
Wherever Gerhart ends up playing next season, he will make a huge impact.
Matt Cassel Continues to Make a Case as the Vikings Starter
Matt Cassel did not win the game for the Minnesota Vikings against the Baltimore Ravens, but he certainly did not lose it.
He finished with 265 passing yards in the game. It surpassed the 248 passing yards he had against the Steelers when he started in Week 4.
All of those totals are greater than what Christian Ponder has had this season.
Cassel may not be the future, but he should certainly be the quarterback now.
Once Again It Comes Down to the Defense Unable to Make a Play
Once again, the Vikings lose a game when they had the lead with less than a minute left.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was able to lead the Ravens on a five-play, 80-yard drive that only took 41 seconds for the game-winning touchdown.
Sure, the Ravens were aided by a questionable pass-interference call that negated an interception, but that gave the Ravens the ball on the 27-yard line with 0:24 left in the game. It only took two more plays for the Ravens to score.
It was the fourth time this season the Vikings lost in the final minute. If the defense could have come up with four more plays this season, the Vikings could be sitting at 7-5-1 and leading the NFC North by a half-game over the 7-6 Lions.
The Officiating Was Very Questionable in This Game
Sure, the conditions were very difficult for everyone in the game between the Vikings and Ravens in Baltimore.
With heavy snow in the first half, and freezing rain in the second half, the conditions were nowhere near ideal—even for the officials.
The difference is the zebras have the advantage of using replay, and they still had a number of questionable calls.
Two of the biggest were the fumble by running back Toby Gerhart in the first quarter and the pass-interference call on the Ravens' final drive that negated an interception.
Even a review of Gerhart's fumble, that clearly showed that his knee was down before the ball came out, could not overrule the call on the field.
On the pass-interference call, there was incidental contact, but it should have been a non-call.
Even running back Adrian Peterson, who spent the second half as a spectator, was not happy with the way the game was called. B/R referenced one of his tweets where he came right out and called the officiating bad.
Perhaps they were only trying to help the Vikings improve their draft position.