Vikings humbled, hammered by Bills in 27-6 loss
The structure of the Vikings schedule dictates they will have to regroup quickly after Sundays 27-6 loss against the Buffalo Bills, with a Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Rams looming before a NFC Championship Game rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles.
If theres any silver lining in whats facing the Vikings over the next two weeks, though, perhaps its the idea that they wont have long to wallow in a defeat that will rank as one of the most lopsided upsets in modern NFL history.
Facing a Bills team that had given up 78 points in its first two games, saw cornerback Vontae Davis retire at halftime last week and stripped defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier of playcalling duties in the second half, the Vikings were 16 1/2-point favorites at home against the Bills.
Since 1978, according to Pro Football Reference, 80 teams had been favored by that many points or more. Only five of them had lost and none of them had lost by more than seven points.
None of them, to be sure, were drubbed as badly as the Vikings, who came within three minutes of being shut out at home for the first time since 1962. Trailing 27-0 at halftime, they fell hard to the Bills at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Kirk Cousins touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph spoiled a shutout for Frazier in his first regular-season game back in Minneapolis since the Vikings fired him at the end of 2013.
It only served to apply a little cosmetic touch-up to a game that went awry almost from the beginning.
Buffalos nine-play, 75-yard game-opening march was facilitated by a 15-yard penalty on Linval Joseph for lowering his helmet and a half-the-distance-to-the-goal flag on Anthony Barr for grabbing Chris Ivorys facemask. The Vikings first two drives lasted just three plays apiece, each of them ending with a sack and a Kirk Cousins fumble deep in Vikings territory.
By the time the first quarter was over, the Bills had built a lead (17 points) that eclipsed the margin by which the Vikings were favored. They were storming toward another touchdown, too, after a miscommunication between Eric Kendricks and Mike Hughes appeared to set up Josh Allens 55-yard pass to Chris Ivory on the final play of the first quarter.
The Bills finished that drive with an Allen touchdown run on fourth down, and added another field goal with 6:16 left in the first half, following an 11-yard completion to Kelvin Benjamin on a 3rd-and-20 that put Buffalo in field goal range and had coach Mike Zimmer yelling at Xavier Rhodes for playing too far off Benjamin.
The Vikings first play in Bills territory came with 9:36 left in the third quarter, after a short punt from Corey Bojorquez and a penalty gave them the ball at the Buffalo 42. Two plays later, Cousins threw a pass that bounced off Latavius Murrays hands, hit linebacker Matt Milano in the legs and rolled into his lap as if it slid down a ramp.
Cousins finished the day 40 of 55 for 296 yards, a touchdown and an interception, in addition to his two lost fumbles.