For 57 minutes and 55 seconds, the Vikings-Ravens game was almost unwatchable. There were only 19 points scored, compared to 15 punts.
Then all hell broke loose. It started with the Ravens driving 64 yards for a touchdown to take the lead just before the 2-minute warning. I was thrilled at this point; the Vikings played a competitive game, and were going to lose which would help their draft position. Best of both worlds!
Now the Vikings get the ball back on the 32 yard line, looking to get into field goal range for Blair Walsh to tie the game before time runs out. The Vikings offense has hardly moved the ball all day, due to a combination of ineptitude, injuries (more on this later), and poor weather. No matter, they cover 68 yards in 2 plays, and roughly 30 seconds of game time to score a touchdown to go back up 4 points. Toby Gerhart channeled his inner yeti to run through about 4 Raven tacklers that bounced right off of him. I was torn between the thrill that comes with any time your favorite NFL team wins a game, and disappointment that we were going to win a game during a lost season.
My emotions were thrown a curve ball immediately after this score, as Jacoby Jones returned a short kick 77 yards to the house to give the Ravens their 3 point lead right back. I was thrilled we were still going to find a way to lose this game!
I was supremely confident the Vikings were going to lose, especially when third-and-ten presented itself with just over one minute to play in the game. I watched as the Vikings set up a bubble screen to Patterson and began to laugh. This play never works for the Vikings, or anyone else for that matter. Obviously, Patterson would take the pass 79 yards to the end zone, untouched by any Raven defenders. Why not, right?
All of a sudden, two teams that could not move the ball all day were in a shoot out, and the Ravens got the ball back with just enough time to make something happen. They drove 80 yards in 41 seconds, aided by an egregious pass interference penalty on an interception that would have ended the game, to score the game winning touchdown with 4 seconds remaining. At this point, I was no longer rooting for the Vikings to win or lose. I was just watching in anticipation of what might happen next.
The clock ran out on the Vikings as they returned the ensuing kick. By that point, I was actually upset the Vikings lost, and surprised they did not find a way to return the kick for a touchdown. It was the most gripping end to a football game I had watched in a long time.
Other game notes:
Adrian Peterson was injured in the second quarter with a mid-foot sprain. He has already said he wants to be ready to play against the Eagles this weekend, but at this point in the season, Peterson’s playing time should be decreased. Toby Gerhart has done a good job running the ball the past four weeks or so, and a healthy Peterson next year is more important than a few hundred extra yards may be this year.