Much like he did during his days with the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford did everything he could to try to hand the Minnesota Vikings a victory on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.
In the spirit of the season, however, the Vikings refused to accept it.
Despite intercepting Stafford three times (when they probably could have had many more than that), the Vikings just didn’t make the most of their opportunities in Week 16 and fell to the Rams by a final score of 30-23.
The Rams struck first, as they took their first possession and marched 70 yards down the field for a touchdown with Sony Michel going over from one yard out to give the visiting team an early 7-0 lead. The drive could have been stopped early on, but Cameron Dantzler dropped an interception that hit him right in the hands.
Minnesota threatened the end zone on their next drive, but a pass from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn that likely would have been a touchdown instead went off of Osborn’s hands and into the hands of Travin Howard for an interception to squelch the threat.
The Rams extended their lead with just over six and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Matt Gay to make the score 10-0. The Vikings’ defense gave them a big opportunity near the end of the second quarter when Anthony Barr picked off Matthew Stafford at the Los Angeles 11-yard line.
Unfortunately, the Vikings could only turn the interception into three points, as they settled for a 23-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to make the score 10-3. They tacked on another field goal at the end of the first half, a 31-yarder to make it 13-3 going into the locker room at halftime.
The Rams got the ball to start the second half, but Stafford quickly threw his second interception of the afternoon, this time getting picked off by Xavier Woods to give the ball back to Minnesota.
The Vikings didn’t turn the Woods interception into points, but Matthew Stafford’s generosity afforded them another opportunity as Anthony Barr collected his second interception of the day on the next series and returned the ball to the 2-yard line.
Alexander Mattison finished things off from there, taking the ball over from two yards out to give the Vikings their first touchdown of the afternoon, cutting the Rams’ lead to 13-10.
Unfortunately, the Vikings’ special teams cost them on their next sequence, as Jordan Berry’s punt was taken back to the end zone by Brandon Powell for a 61-yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and suddenly the Vikings again found themselves down by 10 at 20-10.
Minnesota cut into the lead on the next possession, with Greg Joseph’s 23-yard field goal making it 20-13 with about a minute and a half left in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, the Rams put the ball into the end zone again, as Stafford found Odell Beckham Jr. to make it 27-13 with eleven and a half minutes remaining in the contest.
The Vikings didn’t just roll over, though, as the Vikings responded with another touchdown, this one coming on a 6-yard pass from Cousins to Osborn to cut the Los Angeles lead back to seven at 27-20 with just under eight and a half minutes remaining.
The Vikings wouldn’t get another chance, as the Rams took back over and ground down most of the time remaining, getting another field goal from Matt Gay to make it 30-20. Greg Joseph added a 44-yarder with 30 seconds remaining in regulation to make it 30-23, but the Rams recovered the onside kick and that spelled the end for the Vikings.
The Vikings fall to 7-8 on the season, and the competitive portion of the season is pretty much over. They’ll travel to Lambeau Field next week to take on the Packers on Sunday Night Football and, hopefully, do something to ruin their season.
The Vikings fall to the Rams by a final score of 30-23 in Week 16 NFL action. Thanks to everyone that got their coverage of this week’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!