We’ve been in this spot before and it is anything but comfortable to be a Minnesota Vikings fan right about now.
The team continued to frustrate its fan base with another lackluster performance Sunday after sprinkling in just enough success the previous weeks to keep its fans interested in the club in another lost football season.
Going winless in eight road games is a horrible reality of the team, but seems to be a growing trend not exclusive to Minnesota. There is something to be said for winning at home, no matter the opponent.
Look no further than the Vikings’ December results, wins over Chicago and Philadelphia at Mall of America Field by a combined 71-50. Away from Home Sweet Dome, Minnesota was outscored by 31 points to keep pace with the all-time worst Minnesota defenses as far as points given up go. Detroit needs only 18 points to help Minnesota set the record. It leads the league having given up 467 points after the offense was part of the highest scoring week of games in league history with 48 against Philly in week 15.
Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati comes one week after a very well executed win against a very good Philadelphia squad (see the Dec. 22 victory over Chicago). It shows Vikings fans a number of points from winning on the road is tough, winning outdoors seems to be equally difficult and when our rookie pass-catcher, Corrdarrel Patterson. is our leading running back, a loss is soon to follow.
Patterson averaged 18 yards for three carries, while Adrian Peterson looked less than ready to bust loose and is clearly still hobbled as he averaged just over four yards on 11 carries.
Of course, the Vikings defense resembled anything but a defense, especially through the air. Quarterback Andy Dalton torched the defense for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, two of which were to my fantasy football starter, A.J. Green.
We saw a similar performance by the defense against Baltimore two weeks before, particularly in the second half when Joe Flacco torched the Vikings.
What began with hope, despite an 0-3 start, snowballed into a 1-7 through the first two months of the season.
Were fans looking through a set of purple-shaded glasses or did the success of the previous season leave us overly-confident about the reality of this team?
The theme of late-game scoring drives against Minnesota really sunk the season from the start.
Remember Jay Cutler to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left in the week two loss at Chicago 31-30?
Don’t get me wrong, the Vikings were blown away a few times, but early in the season it seemed like the team was on the verge of a 6-7 game winning streak to be in the middle of a very close NFC North Division.
Those hopeful thoughts gave way to wondering how high of a draft pick the Vikings will have in April. It doesn’t get much better with a No. 8 pick after week 16. Minnesota still has a chance to rise (or fall?) to No. 3 behind lowly Houston and St. Louis, but that will mean pulling for Detroit or hoping for wins by Jacksonville, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa and Atlanta. To stay positive, I’m going out on a limb and staying positive with those five teams winning in week 16, odder things have happened of course, like the Vikings going from 10-6 in 2012 to possibly 4-11-1 this year, a 5.5-game swing in one season.
We’re seeing the cold reality of the slim margin that exists between winning and losing in the NFL and hopefully the offseason will bring thoughtful changes to the defense instead of a reactionary cleaning of the house, including the head coach and general manager.