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The Vikings can’t hold on to the ball

And it’s difficult to win that way

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s often been stated that there are few statistics that are more key to winning and losing football games than “time of possession.” That seems to be holding true for the Minnesota Vikings, particularly in light of their 43-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium to open the 2020 season.

According to Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Vikings set a franchise record for their lowest time of possession since the National Football League started tracking it as a statistic in 1977. The Vikings held the football for just 18:44 in Sunday’s loss, which makes the fact that they managed to score 34 points seem downright miraculous.

The previous low-water mark for time of possession for the Vikings was also a home loss to the Packers back in 2013. In that game, the Vikings held the ball for 19:06 and failed to force a Packers’ punt in a 44-31 loss on Sunday Night Football.

Goessling’s stats go further, saying that in their last three games at U.S. Bank Stadium. . .all losses (today, Week 16 against the Packers last season, and Week 17 against the Bears last season). . .the Vikings have averaged roughly 21 minutes of time of possession per game. That’s. . .bad. It’s awfully difficult to win football games when your defense is out on the field twice as long as the offense is on average.

The Vikings have only been on the right side of the time of possession battle once in their last five games, regardless of whether it’s home or away. Not surprisingly, that was their only victory, as they held the ball for nearly 37 minutes in their playoff win over the Saints in January. They then went out against the San Francisco 49ers and, once again, held the ball for just 21 minutes in the loss that ended their 2019 season.

However they manage to do it, the Vikings are going to have to find a way to start sustaining drives if they want to win football games. If they can’t, we’re going to see the same sort of worn out defense we saw in the loss to San Francisco and the loss to Green Bay today.