Vikings blow late lead, lose third straight game
MINNEAPOLIS—One Vikings player threw his helmet across the field.
Others dropped to their knees in stunned silence as the Vikings turned what appeared to be a sure victory into a stunning 22-16 loss to the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
After scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just 23 seconds left in regulation, Minnesota allowed the Lions to throw a long pass, kick a 58-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, then march 87 yards for the win.
Golden Tate hauled in a 28-yard touchdown on third-and-8 to seal Minnesota's third straight loss and first ever in its new stadium.
The Vikings appeared to be in prime position to win the game, scoring a touchdown on an end-around to Rhett Ellison with just 23 seconds left in regulation to take a 16-13 lead.
But after a touchback, Lions quarterback Matt Stafford completed an 8-yard out to Golden Tate, then a 27-yard strike down the middle of the field to Andre Roberts to set up kicker Matt Prater for a 58-yard field goal.
The veteran split the uprights to take the buzz out of the U.S. Bank Stadium crowd.
Then, the Lions marched won the field, repeatedly converting third downs.
First, they converted a third-and-3 on a 23-yard pass to Eric Ebron. Then, they converted a third-and-8 on a 12-yard pass to Tate. Then, it was a third-and-10 that the Vikings gave up because of a pass interference call on Xavier Rhodes.
The last third-down conversion ended the game.
After starting the season 5-0, the Vikings are suddenly 5-3, trying to find the magic that led them to the quick start.
Minnesota's adventurous kicking game loomed large again.
Blair Walsh missed his third extra point of the season and had another field goal blocked, which turned out to be major factors in the game.
Minnesota played its first game with Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator after Norv Turner resigned from the position suddenly Wednesday.
The offense only managed a field goal in the first half, in part because it only had four opportunities with the ball.
The Lions ended the first half with a 17-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Matt Stafford to Anquan Boldin, to take a 10-3 lead.
Detroit converted four third downs on the drive—one on an illegal use to the hands penalty—and ate up 9 minutes, 45 seconds.
The Vikings, who didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter in each of the last two weeks, finally got one on their second possession of the third quarter.
A nine-play, 78-yard drive ended when Sam Bradford threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph on third-and-1. The Vikings put defensive tackle Linval Joseph in the backfield for the play and faked a handoff. Rudolph was wide open in the back of the end zone.
But Walsh missed an extra point for the third time the season and the Vikings still trailed 10-9.
Walsh had another chance to give the Vikings the lead on the next possession, but his 46-yard attempt was blocked.
The Lions ran it back to the Minnesota 42, setting up a Prater 52-yard field goal to make it 13-9 Lions.
On the next drive, Minnesota marched the ball to Detroit's 5, but the Vikings were stopped on fourth-and-1, when Matt Asiata was stood up at the line.
But the Vikings defense held and got the ball back one more time for the offense.
Bradford hit Adam Thielen on back-to-back plays for 29 yards and 17 yards—the second completion on a spectacular diving catch—to get the ball to the Lions 30.
On first-and-10 from the 17, Bradford nearly hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a go-ahead touchdown, but the receiver couldn't haul the pass in. Three plays later, Vikings converted a fourth-and-4 from the 11 on an 8-yard pass to Stefon Diggs to give Minnesota first-and-goal from the 3 with 1:13 left.
Two plays later, Ellison scored on the end around.