It hadn’t been pretty, but it was going well for the Vikings. Until it wasn’t.
With 7:48 left in the game and Minnesota winning by three at Arrowhead Stadium, the Vikings had the ball after a Kansas City punt on their own 28. With one of the best running games in the NFL, it was time to go to work on the clock, chewing up time and possibly getting an insurance field goal or, better yet, an icing-on-the-cake touchdown.
And then the Vikings opted to pass instead of run. A short throw to fullback C.J. Ham misfired, stopping the clock and putting the Vikings in second and long. And so then it became obvious that the Vikings would run the ball on second and 10 (as John Madden always said, playcallers who call a pass on first down that falls incomplete almost always dial up a running play on second down), and Kansas City stuffed Dalvin Cook for a three-yard loss.
On third and 13, the Vikings didn’t trust quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to throw for a first down. So they dialed up a draw play, didn’t come close to converting it, punted, and Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker eventually knotted the game with a 54-yard field goal.
But then the Vikings had it again, with 2:30 to play and the game tied at 23. And it was time to throw again, starting with another incompletion, continuing with a completion that lost seven yards, and ending with another misfire on a short pass to Cook.
It got much worse, in the form of a shank of a punt that gave the Chiefs the ball at the Minnesota 45. Three plays later, Butker kicked the game winner as time expired.
The end result was typical for Vikings teams with Kirk Cousins under center: Big game, big spot, bad result.
The good news is the other three teams in the division lost. The bad news is the other three teams in the division lost; a win could have pulled the Vikings into a tie for first in the division with the Packers, who are now 7-2.
The best/worst news is the Vikings get a chance to either break the narrative or confirm it next Sunday night, with a trip to Dallas to face the Cowboys.