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Vikings vs. Falcons takeaways: Minnesota prevails in back-and-forth defensive battle

Posted Dec 3, 2017

Atlanta falls to 7-5 but remains very much alive in the NFC playoff race.

ATLANTA – The Falcons entered the fourth quarter of their highly anticipated NFC showdown against the Vikings with a two-point lead but ended up falling 14-9 in defensive battle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.

The usually potent Falcons offense was held to three field goals and no touchdowns. It was the first time Atlanta was held without an offensive touchdown since a 38-0 loss to Carolina on Dec. 13, 2015.

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With the loss, Atlanta falls to 7-5 but remains very much alive in the NFC playoff race with four division games remaining. Minnesota improves to 10-2 and sits atop the NFC North.

Falcons struggle on third down

During their three-game win streak, Atlanta had converted 65.85 percent of its third downs. That rate of success had also improved their overall conversion percentage to 48.09, which was the best mark in the NFL. Against the Vikings it was a different story. The Falcons converted just one of 10 third-down conversions against the stingy Vikings defense. Also noteworthy, Atlanta was 0 for 1 in the red zone.

“We knew it was going to be an all-day fight with Minnesota, we expected that coming in,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. “As the game turned out, some missed chances on third down, on both sides of the ball, was really the factor in this game. Offensively, not being able to convert on some of the third downs and defensively, them extending some drives I thought was the real story of this game.”

Matt Ryan completed 16 of 29 passes for 173 yards and no touchdowns. It was the first time all season long that Ryan was held without a touchdown pass. Julio Jones was also held in check by the Vikings defense, catching just two balls for 24 yards.

Another sack for Takk

For the third time in as many games, Takkarist McKinley registered a sack. McKinley’s big defensive stop came on a third-and-3 play for the Vikings in the second quarter. McKinley caught Vikings quarterback Case Keenum in the backfield for an 11-yard loss, forcing Minnesota to punt with 4 minutes left in the half. McKinley now five sacks through his first 12 games.

And the reaction:

What the loss means for the Falcons

The Falcons fall to 7-5 on the year, but are still 6-2 against NFC opponents. At the moment, the loss also knocks them out of the projected sixth seed because of the Seahawks' 7-4 mark. That could change if Seattle loses to Philadelphia in the Sunday night game at 8:30 p.m. ET. The good news for Atlanta is that its final four games are against NFC South foes, including the Saints on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

What’s next for the Falcons

Atlanta plays host to New Orleans on Thursday night. An 8:30 p.m. ET kickoff is scheduled. The Saints are playing the Panthers in New Orleans at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Recap Sunday’s game with the in-game blog

We provided live updates and analysis during Sunday’s loss over the Vikings, as well as highlights, stats and additional insights. You can recap all the action below.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on AtlantaFalcons.com represent those of the individual authors. Unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Atlanta Falcons’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The writers’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Falcons officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.