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'Fire KOC' was trending after Vikings' choked in Cincinnati

The Vikings blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter for just the fourth time in franchise history on Saturday afternoon.
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If the Minnesota Vikings' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals felt more painful than usual, it's because the Vikings did something on Saturday afternoon that has rarely happened in the 62-year history of the franchise.

According to ESPN's Kevin Siefert, the Vikings had won 84 consecutive games when leading by 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter. The last time the Vikings lost with such a lead was Halloween night in 1993 when the Detroit Lions scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to steal a 30-27 win at the Metrodome.

More painful is that the Vikings had a 171-3 record when holding a lead of 14 or more points entering the fourth quarter before Saturday's loss to the Bengals.

The string of events was enough to drive the most loyal Vikings fans insane after Greg Joseph's 39-yard field goal put Minnesota up 17-3 with 4:32 left in the third quarter.

The Bengals cut into the lead on Jake Browning's 13-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins on the first play of the fourth quarter. After the Vikings went three-and-out on the following drive, Cincinnati tied the game on a one-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon on fourth-and-goal with 7:46 left to play.

The Vikings took the lead back on Nick Mullens's one-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Addison with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter but the Bengals tied the game when Mekhi Blackmon stopped running on Browning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Higgins with 39 seconds left.

Another three-and-out by the Vikings sent the game into overtime. 

Brian Flores's defense was able to force a three-and-out on the Bengals' first drive of the extra frame but Kevin O'Connell's decision to run back-to-back quarterback sneaks on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 failed and the Vikings wound up losing on a chip shot field goal. 

The meltdown sent many fans to their keyboards to express their frustrations over the loss. Some blamed O'Connell, whose playcalling not only led to the offense stalling in the fourth quarter but sent 181-pound wide receiver Brandon Powell to execute the "tush push" on both quarterback sneaks in overtime.

Frustrated Vikings fans also made "Fire KOC" trend on X (formerly Twitter) after Saturday's game while suggesting that defensive coordinator Brian Flores or even Jim Harbaugh, who was considered for the job before O'Connell was hired in 2022, should replace O'Connell.

What fans caught up in the moment failed to mention was that O'Connell is 20-11 in his career as head coach of the Vikings and has helped lead the 2023 Vikings back from a 1-4 start while losing Justin Jefferson for half the season and playing four different starting quarterbacks amid Kirk Cousins' season-ending Achilles rupture. 

Despite the online rants, some of which we've included below, the Vikings are still sixth in the NFC. But with two games against the division-leading Detroit Lions and another against the rival Green Bay Packers, there's a chance the frustration will grow over the final three weeks of the season.