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Vikings’ devastating defeat one for the ages

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kicker Blair Walsh cried in front of his locker. Coach Mike Zimmer choked back tears during his postgame news conference. Other Vikings were simply in a state of shock.

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Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh (3) reacts after missing a field goal attempt against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kicker Blair Walsh cried in front of his locker. Coach Mike Zimmer choked back tears during his postgame news conference. Other Vikings were simply in a state of shock.

The Vikings suffered one of the most devastating defeats in their 55-year history Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium, losing a wild-card playoff game 10-9 to Seattle when Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining.

"The whole thing is on me, and I accept that," Walsh said. "It is shameful. I have to do better."

With the temperature minus-6 degrees at kickoff, making it the coldest game in Vikings history and third-coldest NFL game, Walsh gave Minnesota a 9-0 lead entering the fourth quarter with field goals of 22, 43 and 47 yards.

When it was time for Walsh to make the biggest kick of his four-year professional career, though, he pulled it wide left.

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"I was initially in a state of shock," running back Adrian Peterson said. "I couldn't believe it. I thought it was fake. It's kind of hard to swallow and really hard to explain."

Walsh wasn't alone in blaming himself. Peterson, who has had fumble problems all season, lost one after a catch at the Minnesota 40, setting up Steven Hauschka's 46-yard field goal with 8:04 remaining that put Seattle up 10-9.

"I look back on that and say, 'If I don't put that ball on the ground, they're not able to get that field goal and take the lead,' " Peterson said. "That's something that will haunt me throughout the offseason.

There is a lot about Sunday's game that the Vikings will need some time to get over. For the first three quarters of the bitterly cold game, the NFC North champions held the two-time defending NFC champions in check.

But it is the Seahawks who will travel to Charlotte, N.C., next Sunday to face the top-seeded Carolina Panthers.

"This football team shouldn't be going home right now, and that's hard," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said.

The wind-chill factor at kickoff was minus-25 degrees. The actual temperature of minus 6 surpassed the previous coldest in team history, minus 2 at Metropolitan Stadium for a Dec. 3, 1972 regular-season game against Chicago.

"It was brutal conditions," Greenway said.

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Still, the Vikings were in great shape early in the fourth quarter, leading 9-0 with 13:02 on the clock and the Seahawks facing first and 10 at the Minnesota 39.

When the snap from center sailed past quarterback Russell Wilson and toward midfield, the Vikings looked as if they might force a big loss.

Instead, Wilson picked up the ball, sidestepped a blitzing Captain Munnerlyn and threw the ball deep to a wide-open Tyler Lockett in the middle of the field. Lockett ran down the left sideline for a 35-yard gain before being knocked out at the Vikings' 4.

"The communication was a little off for some instances," said Wilson who completed 13 of 26 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. "Unfortunately, the ball just got past me there. It was a good snap, actually. ... I just tried to extend the play and find a way."

Defensive end Everson Griffen said the Vikings "should have tackled" Wilson. Zimmer agreed.

"We were in a blitz, so they should have blitzed, but the guy made a good play," Zimmer said.

Two plays after the completion, Wilson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, cutting the Vikings' lead to 9-7.

When the Vikings got the ball back, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 146 yards, found Peterson on a 5-yard pass and then for an 8-yard connection for what looked to be a first down.

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But Kam Chancellor yanked the ball out of Peterson's arm as he fell to the turf, and Ahtyba Rubin recovered. It was the low moment of a tough day for Peterson, who finished with 45 yards on 23 carries against Seattle's rugged defense.

"I should have just double arm-wrapped it," Peterson said.

After Hauschka's field goal, the Vikings got the ball back three more times. On the third possession, they drove 52 yards to the Seattle 9, the key play being Bridgewater's 24-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph to the Seahawks' 18 with 1:26 left.

Walsh, who overcame preseason kicking problems to convert 34 of 39 field-goal attempts during the regular season, botched what would have been the winning field goal.

"This was really a survival game," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll was elated after the miss, throwing his arms into the air. A dejected Zimmer covered his face.

With the Vikings winning their first division title since 2009, Zimmer had high hopes for a long playoff run. He was near tears when he talked about how it unexpectedly came to an end.

"We did a lot of things a lot of people didn't think we could have done, and I think what hurts the most is we don't get an opportunity to continue to do that," Zimmer said.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA VIKINGS
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