If the Minnesota Vikings didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck of all.
A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have dreamt up more pitfalls for the Vikings than fate has, starting with Teddy Bridgewater’s catastrophic knee injury 11 days before the start of the regular season all the way to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s third eye surgery on the eve of the team’s 17-15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
In between you had the knee injury to future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, the loss of four, yes four different offensive tackles (Phil Loadholt, Matt Kalil, Andre Smith and Jake Long), and the resignation of offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
In a lot of ways, the fact that Minnesota isn’t battling with Cleveland and San Francisco for the right to be called the worst team in football is somewhat of a moral victory, as well as a tribute to one of the league’s better defenses which kept the Vikings in a game that had no right being in.
Overall, though, since their surprising 5-0 start, the Vikings have indeed been one of the poorer teams in the league, losing six of the past seven and turning from sure-fire playoff team to postseason longshot with no first-round pick to look forward to come next April.
Special teams coordinator and Chris Kluwe favorite Mike Priefer got a chance to open some eyes around the league by taking the big chair for the Vikings on short notice against the best team in football and although it wasn’t exactly great aesthetically, give the interim mentor some credit for having his wounded team in it with a chance to steal things in the fourth quarter.
In a lot of ways, the Vikings outplayed the Cowboys for the majority of the night and led the game 9-7 in the final frame, basically giving up just one deep ball to Dez Bryant, which set up a 1-yard Ezekiel Elliott plunge.
Then as Minnesota was about to get the ball back with just over 10 minutes to go, perhaps the Vikings’ most reliable player, Adam Thielen, fumbled the punt giving the Cowboys the football inside the Minnesota 10-yard line. It was just another example of Murphy’s Law taking up its permanent residence in the Minnesota. Dak Prescott needed all of one play to put Dallas on top for good with an 8-yard TD throw to Bryant.
Minnesota’s offense is so inept that a five-point lead might as well be 50 and after another ineffective drive filled with a penalty, sack, and Bradford throwing short of the sticks, Jeff Locke’s umpteenth bad punt of the night gave Dallas another short field en route to a Dan Bailey field goal.
Interestingly, though, Bradford made it a game in the waning seconds by leading the Vikings to their only TD of the night inside 30 seconds but any dream of overtime was immediately spiked by Minnesota’s abysmal offensive line as Jeremiah Sirles’ false start sent the offense back five yards, an almost unforgivable penalty.
To dig the knife in a little deeper for the long-suffering Vikings fans, Cedric Thornton smacked Bradford in the helmet on the try, an obvious personal foul that Tony Corrente simply missed.
Despite the fact that Priefer’s usual unit, the Vikings’ special teams, was dreadful and the leading cause of the setback in the autopsy, along with the actual nuts and bolts of this thing was Priefer managing things while offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and defensive chief George Edwards handled their fiefdoms with autonomy, there actually might be a team out there who noticed this and will start thinking about going the John Harbaugh route.
Because all of that could get lost in translation after the Vikings held Elliott under 90 yards rushing for the first time since Week 2, and Prescott managed a career-low 139 passing yards.
Being a head coach in this league is about leadership and Priefer showed plenty of that in just about the toughest circumstances possible.
That’s the kind of mettle that could have some entertaining hiring the 50-year-old coach especially if Zimmer’s absence extends for another week or two and Priefer can continue to keep this mess of a team competitive.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.