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Bleacher Report – Vikings

4 thoughts: Sam Bradford’s gut-punch interception, are Vikings playoff hopes dashed?

By Derek Wetmore

The Vikings yet again lost a game to the Detroit Lions in painful fashion and unlike the first go-round, this one might have dashed their best chance of making the playoffs.

This column presents 4 thoughts from Thursday’s Vikings-Lions game.

1. It’s an understatement to call Sam Bradford’s late interception a gut punch for the Vikings.

With Minnesota driving late in the fourth quarter just needing to set up a field goal to seal the game, Bradford had threw a ball toward Adam Thielen on a 3rd-and-7 play that Lions CB Darius Slay undercut and picked off to wrest possession away from the driving Vikings.

It was a cake walk for Detroit after that. Matthew Stafford took a knee at Minnesota’s 22-yard line to let the clock wind down to four seconds, and then Matt Prater drilled a 40-yard field goal right through the uprights for the 16-13 win to sweep the Vikings.

Bradford has been terrific at not turning over the ball, and then at the worst moment, he threw a critical interception that could wind up to be the nail in the coffin of the Vikings’ playoff chances. He had only two interceptions on the season before the Thanksgiving Day Giveaway, and that was amazing to me given the offensive line he’s throwing behind each week.

Unfortunately for Bradford, the third pick might be the one we remember as the one that closed the book on the team’s hopes of winning the NFC North.

2. I will say that I don’t agree with the doomsday predictors who are saying that the Vikings season is over. But it’s looking more and more likely that their playoff chances are probably finished.

Minnesota has the Cowboys coming up next Thursday. I don’t pencil in wins and losses, but that looks like a tough game for the Vikings – especially if they’re starting T.J. Clemmings and Willie Beavers at the two tackle positions.

Let’s ignore the division briefly because the Lions, having won six of the past seven games, now control the NFC North and have the tiebreaker after beating the Vikings twice. If the underdog Vikings lose to the Cowboys, Minnesota would be 6-6. It’s a crowded field fighting for the final playoff spots in the NFC this year.

At the end of the Vikings’ game, here’s what the NFC playoff picture looked like: The 7-3 New York Giants had the fifth seed. Washington was the sixth seed at 6-3-1. You’ve also got 5-5 Tampa Bay and 5-5 Philadelphia (with a Vikings tiebreaker in hand) in the picture.

It’s not over for the Vikings. But the playoff picture is grim right now.

3. Breaking news: the Vikings have basically played two-thirds of a season without explosive plays from their running game.

Now, I know the Vikings have been bad at running the ball this year and I recognize that it’s partly based on their poor run blocking and partly based on the fact that they’ve lost Adrian Peterson and have been playing with a dinged-up Jerick McKinnon.

Still, I was surprised when I read a stat from Matthew Coller’s gameday feature on Adrian Peterson.

How will Adrian Peterson fit in the Vikings offense?

Here’s the excerpt:

Heading into their Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Detroit Lions, the Vikings rank dead last in “explosive plays,” which are plays of 10 or more yards rushing or passes over 25 yards. They have just 11 runs over 10 yards – the next worst is 17 and the best is 49 by the Buffalo Bills.

The disparity between first and last, in this case, is astounding.

On Thursday they averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 16 runs, which is a huge step forward for a team that hadn’t cracked 3 yards per carry yet this season and was looking like a historically bad rushing offense. Jerick McKinnon ran for 10 yards once, Matt Asiata ran for 15 and Cordarrelle Patterson took a double reverse for 22 yards. Those numbers don’t sound like they should be noteworthy, but for this team, they are.

4. We don’t get to use injuries as a catch-all excuse for the Vikings’ struggles this season, but it really is amazing how badly the offensive line has been decimated.

Thursday, on a short week for the Vikings, they lost two more lineman, including probably their most effective overall blocker. Joe Berger left the game with a concussion, and Nick Easton replaced the steady center in the middle of a line that’s fallen apart. And Jeremiah Sirles was hurt in the game as well, replaced by the Vikings rookie lineman who was cut in training camp, Willie Beavers.

The Vikings are down to backups of backups, and that’s crushing their chances of making a run this year, even if they were to somehow overcome their obstacles and make it into the playoffs.

The post 4 thoughts: Sam Bradford’s gut-punch interception, are Vikings playoff hopes dashed? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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