As the Minnesota Vikings look for their next head coach at the start of a busy offseason, we're going to give you a brief break from the coaching search and look back at 10 plays that shaped the team's 2013 season.
If there's ever been a Vikings season in recent memory that could have turned on a handful of plays, this is the one. The team blew five last-minute leads, losing four of those games and tying another one. Instead of finishing 9-7 or 10-6, winning the NFC North and hosting a playoff game this past weekend, the Vikings were in the midst of their search for a new head coach after firing Leslie Frazier.
This series will examine some of those pivotal plays in the Vikings' season, and what they ultimately meant to a 5-10-1 campaign. We'll go through them in chronological order, so the top choice is not necessarily the most important play. If you have thoughts about which plays should be included in the list, feel free to leave them in the comments section or send them to me on Twitter. Here we go:
WHEN: Sept. 8, 2013
WHERE: A 34-24 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
THE PLAY: Adrian Peterson's 78-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the season.
WHAT THEY SAID: Peterson: "I told two guys earlier this week [I was going to score], and when they came to the sideline, they were like, 'I can't believe it happened.' It was cool. I wish we could have gotten a couple more of those."
IMPACT OF THE PLAY: In a year that began with Peterson talking about running for 2,500 yards, the run gave some credence to the idea that Peterson might be able to do it. It looked like something right out of his MVP season of 2012, as he started to his right, followed a block from fullback Rhett Ellison into a hole between left tackle Matt Kalil and tight end Kyle Rudolph, made a man miss and raced to the end zone on the Vikings' first offensive play. Whether it was Peterson struggling with nagging injuries or the Vikings' offensive line being unable to open those kinds of holes, the pieces of the team's run game rarely looked that seamless again. Peterson ran for just 15 yards the rest of the day, and while he ended the season with 1,266 yards, the first carry was one of the few moments where it wasn't a struggle.