There are times in football when the smartest strategy for the team on defense is the most counterintuitive thing for a defensive player: Let the other team take the ball into the end zone. The Vikings faced one of those situations on Sunday against the Broncos and decided against it.
With 1:12 remaining, the score tied and the Broncos facing first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, all the Broncos had to do was run three plays to take the remaining time off the clock, call timeout with two seconds left and kick the game-winning field goal. And that’s what they did.
For the Vikings, letting the Broncos score a touchdown on first-and-goal would have at least given them enough time to attempt a last-minute drive to score a touchdown of their own and send the game into overtime. But Minnesota instead stopped Denver running back Lance Ball twice, rather than letting him into the end zone.
So why didn’t the Vikings let Ball score? Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he thought about it but figured it would make more sense to try to block the Broncos’ game-winning field goal.
“We have been in that situation where we’ve blocked a kick,” Frazier told the Pioneer Press. “Let’s try to block it.”
Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams offered up a common sentiment for defensive players: He said that letting the opposing team score is like “giving up to me.”
“You might have a better chance of him shanking the field goal or a bad snap,” Williams said. “It’s three or four processes to getting that field goal off.”
If Williams thinks the chances of the Broncos missing a field goal, indoors, from inside the 5-yard line are better than the Vikings’ chances of driving down the field and scoring, then Williams doesn’t have a lot of faith in his teammates on offense. Then again, considering how the Vikings’ offense has played this year, it’s hard to blame him.