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Murphy: It was unforgivable performance for Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS--Hard to bury a team that does not bother to show up at its own funeral, but let's pour one out anyway for your 2016 Minnesota Vikings, who redefined rock bottom Sunday with an unforgivable performance for the ages.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Erik Walden (93) and safety Mike Adams (29) force a fumble on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in his return to the field during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Erik Walden (93) and safety Mike Adams (29) force a fumble on Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in his return to the field during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS-Hard to bury a team that does not bother to show up at its own funeral, but let's pour one out anyway for your 2016 Minnesota Vikings, who redefined rock bottom Sunday with an unforgivable performance for the ages.

They climbed into a steam drill, bore through mantle and went full throttle into the center of the Earth, a soft core rivaled only by the failed leadership of this locker room and coaching staff.

Worse than losing six of seven to ruin a counterfeit 5-0 start, Minnesota's 34-6 surrender to the Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium reinforced the fraud this season has been all along.

From galling defensive comparisons to the 1985 Bears and a quick-healing Adrian Peterson resuscitating a moribund running game, to Blair Walsh moving past his inexcusable playoff shank and hollow next-man-up faith in a retooled offensive line that is criminally negligent, Vikings fans were duped by an oversold product.

At least they were gouged by $9 beers and $50 parking at the "People's Stadium."

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Two field goals were all the defending NFC North champs could muster in a must-win game against an even more desperate opponent.

The Colts played to win.

The Vikings played because they had to.

"There was a lot at stake, to make the playoffs, to make this push," said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. "To go lay an egg like this? I'm at a loss for words. I don't know."

Muting chatty Captain is harder than draining Lake Superior.

So much junk to unpack but so little time with Minnesota scheduled Saturday to visit Lambeau Field, where it clinched the division title in last year's season finale - the peak of coach Mike Zimmer's teasing but unfulfilling tenure.

With their playoff mortality in the balance Sunday, the Vikings played as if they already had booked their January vacations, earning lusty boos that shattered the final noise threshold at their new stadium. They made 66,000 people yearn to run screaming into the subzero outdoors and stick their tongues on a flagpole.

The Colts had 21 first downs at halftime. The Vikings barely had the ball 22 minutes the entire game.

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"It happened pretty fast," noted nose tackle Linval Joseph.

No one is spared scrutiny after such a catastrophe, but veteran playmakers derelict in their collective duties deserve the most scorn.

Safety Anthony Harris made Harrison Smith's absence felt acutely. He needed a fire-retardant suit to escape with his life the Colts burned him so much. Not to be outdone, linebacker Chad Greenway was torched in coverage by tight end Erik Swoope for a 27-yard touchdown reception and a 17-0 deficit.

Adrian Peterson was the same non-factor from Weeks 1 and 2 but spiced up his slow stroll out of town with a drive-killing fumble in the red zone.

Joseph was the grand marshal of a penalty parade that featured such memorable drive-extending gaffes as Danielle Hunter's hands-to-the-face and yet another Everson Griffen off-sides.

Joseph's penalty was a killer. After stopping the Colts inside the 5-yard line and forcing a field goal that would have made it 6-0, the 329-yard nose tackle decided to swan dive over the long snapper and was flagged for illegal leverage, gifting Indianapolis first and goal at the 1 and an inevitable two-touchdown lead.

"We keep saying we shoot ourselves in the foot, (but) I don't want to hear that anymore because we've got to live and learn and we're not doing that as a team," Munnerlyn groused.

For some reason, Zimmer ripped off his doctor-ordered eye patch in the second half, content, apparently, to permanently burn the retina he has spent the past six weeks trying to save.

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"I want to find out who is going to fight because that was not a fighting performance there," Zimmer said. "If they're not going to fight, they're going to get their butt out."

Don't bother. The time to draw a line in the snow and declare an end to this death spiral was high noon Sunday.

There is not an algorithm in all of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will convince Vikings fans their club still is mathematically in postseason contention.

The Colts, who entered Week 15 having allowed the second-most sacks behind Cleveland, were without three offensive-line starters to protect Andrew Luck, who was barely threatened by a Vikings pass rush that played with the urgency of a stoner on a futon.

Bradford was dropped five times, including on the final snap, as the clock ticked down to zeros in a game that ended shortly after kickoff.

The cold, hard truth in December is the Vikings' season really died in September, when their offense failed to launch and the defense peaked.

Their five-game winning streak just the lye that covered up the corpse.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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