For a second straight week, the Vikings put themselves in position to win a game on the road.
For a second straight week, they found a way to lose and break their fans' hearts.
Greg Joseph was a perfect three for three on field goal attempts this season — each of them from at least 52 yards out — when he walked out onto the State Farm Stadium field to attempt a game-winning 37-yarder. Like Blair Walsh, Gary Anderson, and others before him, the Vikings' kicker couldn't get it done in the biggest moment.
Joseph's kick sailed wide right as time expired and the Vikings, who could easily be heading home 2-0 with a pair of road victories, fell to an incredibly painful 0-2.
The story of the game is Joseph's kick and the decisions that led up to it. When Kirk Cousins hit K.J. Osborn over the middle to move the chains, there were 41 seconds on the clock. Mike Zimmer decided they were close enough and let the clock run down to four seconds before calling his final timeout and sending Joseph out there.
On the one hand, your kicker needs to make a 37-yard field goal from the middle of the field. But the decision that will be second-guessed is not trying to get even closer or play for a touchdown. You risk a sack or turnover if you do that — Zimmer may have been influenced by Dalvin Cook's game-deciding fumble from the week prior — but you also give yourselves a shot to make things easier for your kicker or take it out of his hands entirely.
The missed kick was the final play of a wildly dramatic game that featured eight lead changes, nearly 900 combined yards of offense, and two huge turnovers. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was electric, throwing for 400 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions and running for a touchdown as well. Murray made several absurd individual plays that only he can make.
Although he wasn't perfect, this loss isn't on Kirk Cousins. The Vikings' veteran QB threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over, even out-rushing Murray 35 yards to 31. K.J. Osborn had another great game, Dalvin Cook went for 148 yards from scrimmage, Danielle Hunter had three sacks, and Nick Vigil had a pick-six. The Vikings did a lot of things well.
In the end, none of it matters. Minnesota is 0-2, and that's the only number that means anything.
They'll look to bounce back next week in their home opener against the Seahawks, who the Vikings have never beaten in the Russell Wilson era.
Plenty more to come from the Vikings' thrilling, soul-crushing Week 2 defeat.
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