SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks did his part to keep his team in the game right before halftime.
With the Vikings trailing 14-7 at that point, and the 49ers threatening to take the game over, Kendricks read the eyes of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo perfectly, stepping in front of an errant pass for an easy interception.
“Shoot. He threw it right to me,” Kendricks said. “Honestly it was a terrible throw.”
That put the Vikings in great field position with a chance to tie the game at 14-14. Instead, the 49ers tightened up, and the Vikings kicked a field goal to make it 14-10 heading into the locker room.
Talk about a missed opportunity.
“I always want to help my team win,” Kendricks said. “I wish I would’ve scored myself.”
As a whole, Kendricks was proud of the way the Vikings prepared, even if the result wasn’t what they wanted.
“These things happen,” Kendricks said. “You lose sometimes in life. You get hit in the mouth. You’ve just got to get up and keep moving.”
No emotional hangover
After beating the New Orleans Saints with a walk-off touchdown last weekend, the Vikings vowed to turn the page quickly.
Nobody in the locker room wanted an emotional hangover like the one they suffered a couple of seasons ago when they fell 38-7 to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game.
While the result was the same this time around — a blowout loss — safety Harrison Smith thinks the Vikings were ready to play.
“I thought that was one thing we handled well,” Smith said. “We came back to work. Everybody started hard. Nobody was giddy and happy that we had just won a playoff game. We were ready to go. Just didn’t get it done.”
Failing to flip momentum
With the game knotted at 7-7 leading up to halftime, the Vikings forced a big turnover. Or so they thought.
While it looked like cornerback Xavier Rhodes stripped wide receiver Deebo Samuel on first glance, replay showed that his knee was down prior to the ball coming out.
That could’ve been a big turning point as far as defensive end Stephen Weatherly was concerned.
“We had some momentum after something like that,” Weatherly said. “That was so close to being a turnover we needed to capitalize on that and suck the air out of the building.”
Instead, the Vikings allowed the 49ers to score a touchdown to make it 14-7.
“They were able to convert and keep the ball rolling,” Weatherly said. “That was deflating for us and it just gave them more momentum.”