Takeaways: Vikings' offense stagnant in loss at Seattle

We’ve seen this story before with the Minnesota Vikings. Another giant opportunity to get a big road win and solidify playoff positioning, and they fall flat.

It was bad enough offensively that John DeFilippo is out of a job, which is never an easy decision in-season and with the Vikings still technically a playoff team. But the Vikings’ defense gave them every opportunity to win Monday night, and the offense couldn’t perform.

There was questionable play-calling, the offensive line had a rough night and they couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. It’s an all too familiar scenario for the Vikings, who now likely need to win at least two of their last three games to make the playoffs. Those include hosting Miami this Sunday, traveling to Detroit in two weeks and hosting Chicago to end the regular season. The Bears can clinch the NFC North Division title with a win over Green Bay this week.

Here are takeaways from Monday's loss.

Another clunker on national television

The Vikings have a habit of not playing well on the national stage. They lost to the Saints on Sunday Night Football, lost on the road to the Bears earlier this season with a chance to grab the division lead and we all know what happened in the NFC title game last year.

It’s hard to pinpoint whether it’s a mental block the Vikings can’t get over, poor preparation, poor execution or all of the above. Whatever it is, it needs to change quickly if they have any aspirations to make the playoffs and do anything when they get there.

DeFilippo fired after dismal offensive display

The Vikings feature one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL. They’re ranked No. 30 with 84.7 yards per game. They’ve had a 100-yard rusher once this season, Latavius Murray with 155 yards against the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve had two other 100-yard games collectively on the season.

Minnesota didn’t get to midfield in the first half on Monday, and didn’t score until 1:10 left in regulation. By that time, it didn’t matter. The Vikings had just 206 total yards until their meaningless late touchdown, and just 16 first downs in the game. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen saw double teams all game and had a combined 13 targets. That can't happen if the Vikings want success on offense.

The offense Monday night was ultimately one final factor in John DeFilippo's dismissal as offensive coordinator on Tuesday.

"It wasn't about one game, it was about the direction we were heading," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.

The offensive line got pushed around, the Vikings didn’t stick to running the ball consistently and didn’t take advantage of the multiple opportunities the Seahawks gave them.

1 penalty, 1 no-call costly for Vikings

The referees got involved on two plays, one a flag and one picked up, that both had an impact on the outcome for the Vikings. Xavier Rhodes was flagged for pass interference on a Russell Wilson deep pass to Tyler Lockett. The two were hand-fighting, and the pass was out of bounds and probably not catchable. It eventually led to a Sebastian Janikowski field goal that gave Seattle a 6-0 lead.

The no-call potentially had a direct impact on the outcome of the game. Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner blocked a Dan Bailey field goal late in the fourth quarter, and a flag was thrown as he used teammates to help him leap over the center. The officials huddled and picked up the flag. It was the wrong no-call, and it would’ve given the Vikings 15 yards and a first down at the Seattle 14-yard line. We’ll never know what the outcome of the drive might have been, but the Vikings should have at least had the chance to find out.

Zimmer said after the game he never got an explanation as to why the flag was picked up. He was only told the play couldn't be reviewed or challenged.

Defense does enough to win

It’s frustrating when the defense largely does its job, but the Vikings still lose the game. They sacked Russell Wilson twice, limited his scrambling options and linebacker Eric Kendricks ended a Seattle scoring drive with an interception. He could’ve returned it for a touchdown, but bobbled the ball before falling to the ground to secure it. Wilson completed just 10 passes on the night for 72 yards.

The NFL’s top rushing offense did go for 214 yards, but the Vikings’ defense held Seattle in check until the Seahawks scored a defensive touchdown of their own to open up the lead.

Now, DeFilippo is gone and the Vikings likely need at least two wins in the next three games between hosting Miami, traveling to Detroit and hosting Chicago to be a playoff team.

"I don't want the season to be wasted now. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. These last three games are critical," Zimmer said.