Boos bombard Vikings in home loss to Bills
MINNEAPOLIS -- Running off the field and to the locker room after their game Sunday, Sept. 23, at U.S. Bank Stadium, Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White commandeered Kirk Cousins’ catchphrase and yelled “You like that?” several times.
There was plenty to like from the Bills in their 27-6 rout of the Vikings. Coming in as a 17-point underdog, they took a 27-0 halftime lead and cruised to a stunning and stunningly easy victory.
Minnesota fans let their feelings be known by booing throughout the game.
“We didn’t give them much to cheer for,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “So it’s embarrassing on our part, the performance that we put forth today, and it’s a shame it was here at home in front of our fans. They deserve better than that.”
Wide receiver Adam Thielen called it “butt-whooping.” Running back Latavius Murray said the Vikings wee “punched in the mouth” and ranked it one of the worst losses of his six-year NFL career.
Told about White using his catchphrase, Cousins shrugged and said that is “pretty much the most common thing I hear on the field.”
What wasn’t common was the Vikings quarterback being outplayed by Buffalo’s Josh Allen, a rookie making his second start. Allen completed 15 of 22 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown and ran for two TDs.
Cousins completed 40 of 55 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown, but he threw for just 44 yards in the first half before piling up meaningless stats when the game was no longer in doubt.
Cousins especially hurt the Vikings (1-1-1) by losing fumbles on consecutive first-half possessions. With Buffalo (1-2) leading 7-0, Cousins lost the ball on a sack by Trent Murphy at the Minnesota 15. That led to a field goal and a 10-0 Bills lead.
Cousins fumbled again on a sack by Jerry Hughes, and Buffalo (1-2) took over at the Vikings’ 25. Two plays later, Allen threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jason Croom for a 17-0 lead.
“Obviously, you can’t turn the ball over and give their offense a short field,” Cousins said.
The Vikings never were able to recover from the two fumbles.
“Turnovers never help, and where they turned them over was not good,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “But the defense has to come out and stop them.”
The defense didn’t do much of that in the first half. Allen, who opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run, added a 1-yard run in the second quarter for a 24-0 lead. Later in the quarter, Stephen Hauschka made his second field goal, a 50-yarder, for a 27-0 lead.
The Vikings needed a 4-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Rudolph with 2:59 left in the game to avoid their first shutout since 2007.
The Vikings almost made history with their futility running the ball. Minnesota, with starting running back Dalvin Cook sidelined with a hamstring injury, had just 14 yards rushing. The team record for fewest in a game is 11, set in 1996 against Chicago.
“Obviously, that was a poor performance by us,” Zimmer said. “I obviously didn’t do a well enough job preparing this football team for this game. It was probably as poor a first half as I’ve seen in quite while.”
In addition to Cook, the Vikings played without defensive end Everson Griffen (knee), punt returner Marcus Sherels (rib) and tight end David Morgan (knee). Zimmer said Griffen did not attend the game to take care of a personal matter.
In the first half Sunday, the Vikings lost cornerback Trae Waynes and tackle Rashod Hill to ankle injuries. While Hill’s injury is not believed to be serious, Zimmer said Waynes will have an MRI.
The Vikings have a big game Thursday against the Rams in Los Angeles. Players insisted they weren’t taking the Bills lightly while looking ahead to the next game.
“It is the NFL, so all teams are capable of coming out and playing at a high level and being successful,” said linebacker Anthony Barr. “It wasn’t anything like that. It was just a lot of mental mistakes, physical mistakes.”
The Vikings had a number of penalties in the first half, including Barr’s horse-collar tackle of Allen as he was going out of bounds on second-and-18 on the second play of the second quarter. That led to Allen’s 1-yard run.
No, there wasn’t much to like from a Vikings standpoint. But there certainly was on the Bills side.
“It’s the first win of 2018 for the Buffalo Bills,” White said. “So, of course it is a big deal. Ya’ll like that?”