Ravens Rally Past Vikings In Final Seconds 29-26
BALTIMORE -- This was what football used to be like in Minnesota before the Vikings began playing under a dome.
Snow, ice, wind, sloppy football, a field with yard lines that were virtually invisible.
The Vikings would have loved to remember Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens for the experience of playing — and winning — in the snow.
Instead, Minnesota absorbed another painful defeat, 29-26, and lost running back Adrian Peterson to a foot injury. The Vikings (3-9-1) also were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Joe Flacco threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie Marlon Brown with 4 seconds left to cap a wild back-and-forth final 125 seconds that featured five touchdowns and five lead changes.
“We thought the game was over four times,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “But they came back every time we scored.”
The zany ending overshadowed a first half in which a driving snow left the field almost unplayable.
“I had always wanted to play in the snow, and I got my opportunity today,” receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said. “We expected to win. And in the end, it wasn’t what we expected it to be.”
Brown’s catch concluded a five-play, 80-yard drive that took only 41 seconds.
—Dennis Pitta, in his season debut following a hip injury, caught a 1-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass from Flacco for 15-12 lead with 2:05 remaining.
—Toby Gerhart, subbing for Peterson, ran 41 yards for a touchdown to put Minnesota up 19-15 with 1:27 to go.
—Jacoby Jones went the distance with the ensuing kickoff to give Baltimore a 22-19 lead with 1:16 left.
—Matt Cassel threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Patterson with 45 seconds to play.
Then the Ravens (7-6) answered with one final salvo.
Baltimore has its first three-game winning streak of the season and the inside track for the second AFC wild card.
Minnesota lost Peterson in the second quarter, and then dropped a game it appeared to have won. At least twice.
Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher and 2012 MVP, hurt his right foot in the second quarter after catching a short pass and being tackled near the sideline by linebacker Arthur Brown.
“We did X-rays, and it came back pretty clear,” said Peterson, who finished with 13 yards on seven carries. “The next step is to get an MRI done (Monday) and find out more.”
Gerhart gained 89 yards on 15 attempts. Cassel went 17 for 28 yards for 265 yards.
Flacco completed 28 of 50 passes for 245 yards and three interceptions.
The Vikings took their first lead, 12-7, when Cassel threw an 8-yard pass to Jerome Simpson after an interception by safety Andrew Sendejo. Baltimore then moved to the Minnesota 21 before Vonta Leach was stuffed on fourth-and-1.
That appeared huge, but the teams had plenty of time left to run up and down the sloppy field.
Minnesota went to overtime in each of its previous two games. And then this.
Before the game and in the first quarter, small tractors with plows and workers with shovels tried to clear the snow, to no avail. After the snow let up, tractors moved it from between the hash marks and shovels cleared the yard lines.
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