The Tremendous Badness of the Vikings and Raiders

The pace of NFL Sunday slows down during the late window. Usually three or four games kick off between 4 and 4:25 p.m. EST. One of those is a featured matchup, like Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills, with all of the brilliant throws and yelling about a wide receiver being rightly flagged for lining up half of his foot across the line of scrimmage.

A much less compelling matchup took place between the Minnesota Vikings and Las Vegas Raiders. The two teams made NFL history in Week 14 and it was not properly acknowledged. The Vikings and Raiders played the lowest scoring NFL game in 16 years.

It took just over 58 minutes of game time for points to finally be put on the board. The Vikings kicked what turned out to be the game-winning field goal following a 13-play, 56-yard drive. No NFL game had gone scoreless for that long since the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins, 3-0, in 2007.

The title of the YouTube highlights of that game is “The Monday Night Mud Bowl.” Both teams sloshed around what is currently known as Acrisure Stadium for nearly an entire game without scoring. The 0-0 tie was broken with 20 seconds remaining when Jeff Reed made a 24-yard field goal. Prior to that game, the latest that an NFL game went scoreless was the last game that ended in a 0-0 tie. That was a 1943 matchup between the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.

On Sunday, in a climate controlled Las Vegas building, with a perfectly manicured natural grass surface, the Vikings and Raiders punted the ball a combined 17 times. Neither team was able to accumulate even 150 yards passing. The Raiders also managed to turn the ball over three times. As ineffective as the Vikings’ offense was all day, at least they held onto the ball and committed no turnovers.

While he didn’t give the ball away, passtronaunt Joshua Dobbs didn’t put the ball in the hands of his teammates enough, either. Minnesota was dealt a tough blow when Justin Jefferson was knocked out of the game in the first half with a chest injury. However, midway through the fourth quarter, Dobbs had only completed 10-of-23 passes for 63 yards, and rushed for a mere 21. A change had to be made, so Nick Mullens was inserted into the game. He led the field-goal drive.

Keeping up with the game on RedZone was nearly impossible because both teams only reached that area of the field one time each. Neither offense was in a goal-to-go situation at any moment in Week 14. They even combined for less than 25 total first downs.

This game was truly a masterpiece of ugly football. Every part of it worked together to create a product so undesirable that the game actually became entertaining. Once a game gets to the point where people are watching to see if it can reach an historic low, it has reached a special place. The dark part of ourselves that enjoys watching people who live in squalor and throw nothing away, and the Real Housewives series in which the main participants cut each other down, but still hang out often at swanky places.

Vikings vs. Raiders was ugly, disjointed, lacking explosion on offense, and sloppy. Through all of that mess, the Vikings continued to crawl through a sewer and eventually got through the day with a nasty victory.

A game that will be largely forgotten until the next scoreless fourth-quarter tie.