It certainly wasn’t a pretty game to watch, and given the extremely low temperature at kickoff (tied for the third coldest playoff game in NFL history), nobody was expecting a high-scoring extravaganza. The game turned on two plays: a bad snap to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson that he somehow turned into a big gain and a missed field goal by Blair Walsh that ended the Vikings’ hopes. 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer:
They made the gap feel closer than 27 yards.
This wasn’t like any of the Vikings’ other five losses in the second season under Mike Zimmer. The same team that was thoroughly handled by San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle proved to be the better defensive team in Sunday’s 10-9 loss and first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Seahawks. They were the better offensive unit up until kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot, shorter than an extra point, into the open, windy end of TCF Bank Stadium.
They showed signs of a potential NFC force turning the corner, giving traction last week to their shock-the-world mission by walking out of Lambeau Field with a division title. The first 59 minutes and 34 seconds through Sunday’s bone-chilling game put the odds in the Vikings’ favor — Walsh was 30-of-31 in his career from inside 29 yards.
But their shot at dethroning the reigning conference champions ended at Seattle’s 9-yard line, where Walsh pushed a 27-yard attempt wide left.
Though it was more than a missed kick that ended the Vikings’ season.
A botched fourth-quarter snap gave life to the Seahawks. Wilson chased the snap 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, recovered and evaded a duo of Vikings’ blitzers in cornerback Captain Munnelryn and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Wilson scrambled right, and the coverage followed. That left receiver Jermaine Kearse wide open in the middle of the field. Kearse outran cornerback Xavier Rhodes and picked up 35 yards to the Vikings’ 4.
“Honestly, I thought the ball still was on the ground,” Munnerlyn said of Wilson’s recovery. “He had a knee down and I’m like, ‘Man, is he going to get up and run with it?’ He picked it up and [spun] out and found the open guy. At that point, I wish I could take that play back and go up field…I didn’t know where nobody was. I was just trying to make a play and that’s one play I regret.