Fans of the Minnesota Vikings are used to roller coaster rides, and on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, their favorite team gave them a bunch of ups-and-downs, all in the span of one sixty minute contest. They even invented a new way to lose, as a safety with less than a minute remaining cost them the game, as the Miami Dolphins defeated the Vikings by a score of 37-35.
The Vikings raced out to an early lead, much like they did in last week's game against the Detroit Lions. The Vikings took advantage of a short field following a long field goal miss by Caleb Sturgis, and the first score of the game came from Matt Asiata, who went over from one yard out to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Vikings then turned an interception by Harrison Smith into another score, as Teddy Bridgewater hit Greg Jennings from 21 yards out to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead.
The Dolphins answered late in the second quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Dion Sims to make the score 14-7. The Vikings got the ball back late in the half, and appeared to be content to just run out the clock and go into the locker room with a 14-7 lead. However, a big run by Joe Banyard gave the Vikings new life, and they drove deep into Miami territory. Bridgewater hit Chase Ford on a pass that was ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line, even though replay appeared to show Ford going into the end zone before going out of bounds. The call stood, however, and the Vikings had to settle for an 18-yard field goal from Blair Walsh to take a 17-7 lead into the locker room.
The Dolphins scored the first fourteen points of the second half to take the lead. Midway through the third quarter, Tannehill found Mike Wallace for a 16-yard touchdown pass to make the score 17-14 in favor of the Vikings. Miami's defense stood up again, and the first play of the first quarter saw Lamar Miller go over from a yard out to give the Dolphins their first lead of the day at 21-17. The Vikings answered the touchdown with another Blair Walsh field goal, this one from 33 yards out to make the score 21-20.
Miami added to their lead on the next drive, as Tannehill found Wallace again, this time from seven yards out to extend the Miami lead to 28-20. The Vikings got the ball back needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion just to tie it up, and that's just what they got, as Teddy Bridgewater found Jarius Wright for an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-26 and, after a couple of Miami encroachment penalties, Matt Asiata took the two-point conversion try over to tie the score at 28 with 4:46 remaining in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff (that came from the 50-yard line after a Miami penalty on the two-point play), the Vikings kicked the ball high to attempt to pin the Dolphins deep, and got something even better. . .a fumble by Jarvis Landry and a recovery by Antone Exum at the 5-yard line. On the next play, Matt Asiata took the ball over for a 5-yard touchdown run and, just like that, the Minnesota Vikings were back on top by a score of 35-28.
The Dolphins responded by marching back down the field, and found themselves at the Minnesota 14-yard line at the two-minute warning. After a questionable pass interference call on Xavier Rhodes, Tannehill found Damian Williams for a 3-yard touchdown strike, and the extra point tied the score with 1:11 left on the clock and the Vikings with three time outs in their pocket.
The Vikings got the ball back, but they put together a pretty horrendous series of plays and were forced to punt the ball away with 44 seconds remaining. Well, they thought they were going to punt the ball away. . .the Dolphins' rush got through and reserve Terrence Fede blocked Jeff Locke's punt attempt in the end zone for a safety, giving them a 37-35 lead, and that's how the game ended.
Minnesota managed to invent a whole new way to lose in this game, but the defense managed to not stop Miami one single time in the second half when just one stop, particularly at the end, would have been enough to secure a victory.
Bridgewater had a solid afternoon for the Vikings, completing over 70% of his passes for the fourth straight game. He completed 19-of-26 attempts for 259 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Matt Asiata ran the ball 16 times for 58 yards, and also found the end zone twice. Bridgewater completed passes to nine different receivers on the afternoon, with Greg Jennings leading the way with three catches for 56 yards and a score.
For Miami, Ryan Tannehill was basically unstoppable in the second half. He completed 35-of-47 attempts for 396 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Lamar Miller led the Dolphins in rushing with 19 carries for 92 yards and a score, while tight end Charles Clay had 114 yards on six catches for Miami, with Mike Wallace pitching in with two receiving touchdowns.
The Vikings fall to 6-9 on the season, guaranteeing a losing record for the second season in a row. They will host the Chicago Bears next week in their regular season finale. The Dolphins move their record to 8-7, and will finish their season against the New York Jets. They were eliminated from playoff contention after the Pittsburgh Steelers knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the day.
The Vikings lose to the Dolphins by a score of 37-35 on an ugly, ugly play at the end of the game. Thank you to everybody that got their coverage this week right here at The Daily Norseman.
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