Going into Sunday night’s game, the Vikings had renewed hope they could win homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
After Carolina’s convincing 26-7 beatdown of Minnesota, the Vikings now have to worry about earning a bye in the playoffs.
The Eagles only trail the 11-3 Vikings by a game, and would win the tiebreaker if both teams ended up with four losses. Minnesota, 2-3 outdoors this year, head to Chicago next week, then finish with the Giants at home.
The Vikings offense couldn’t finish drives throughout Sunday’s game. Adrian Peterson finished with 35 yards on 12 attempts before tacking on a long catch in garbage time.
Minnesota’s defense was strong for most of the game, but fell apart in the fourth quarter, giving up 20 unanswered points. Steve Smith burned them for 157 yards on nine catches, including a 42-yard score on third-and-26 to open the final quarter.
“I had to establish the rules and regulations of the game,” Smith said to NBC’s Andrea Kremer, in reference to Vikings cornerback Benny Sapp, who Smith said was trash talking.
Kremer: “Which were?”
Smith: “Which was 89. . . . Bottom line. That’s why he’s going home.”
Indeed. And the bottom line is Minnesota has a lot of work left to do in this regular season.