On Sunday, January 10th, 2016 I photographed the Wild Card playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, which was the final outdoor game, likely ever, for the Minnesota Vikings. With a game time temperature of -6 degrees F and a wind chill of around -25 degrees F, it was the coldest game in Vikings history and the 3rd coldest game in NFL history. Wearing many layers and hand warmers stockpiled I survived the cold relatively unharmed. On the other hand, my remote camera that I setup for every game to capture stadium-wide views of the game didn’t fare quite as well.
In order to help keep the remote receiver batteries warm I strapped a hand warmer packet to it. (Click any photo to view it larger)
That seemed to help the radio trigger, but the camera itself didn’t like the cold as much. I fired the remote several times throughout the game, but it only captured photos part way through the national anthem (thankful for that!) except for one frame it managed to capture of the heartbreaking ending (more on that later). Some of the photos recorded as partially solid white. It seems it was too cold to even process all of the data on all of the photos. However, I was able to get one nice shot of the national anthem with the giant American flag on the field.
Despite the bitter cold, it didn’t stop some fans from acting crazy.
Now as for the game itself, it lived up to “classic Minnesota sports” history. That is to say fans were left believing the game would be won right up to the bitter end, but it was ripped away in shocking fashion like so many times before. The Vikings clung to a 9-0 lead for the most of the first 3 quarters on three field goals from Blair Walsh.
In the 4th quarter the Vikings defense, which had been great all game, finally bent and gave up the lead 10-9. However, in their final drive the Vikings drove down the field to set themselves up for a game-winning 27-yard field goal in the final seconds. Blair Walsh had kicked three successful field goals earlier in the game, including two from more than 40 yards. In his entire career he had only missed one other field goal less than 30 yards. This was a sure victory, right? No, not for “classic Minnesota sports”. What is likely due to the cold weather, the place holder, Jeff Locke didn’t spin the laces out when he placed the ball for the kick and Walsh shanked the kick wide left.
It was a crushing end to what had been a great season for the Vikings, who won the NFC North Division title for the first time since 2012 and only the third time since 2001. Despite the tough end to the season, I was grateful for another opportunity to photograph the entire season on behalf of the Vikings. Even if the weather was challenging, it was fun to document the Vikings last season outdoors before they move into their brand new state-of-the-art stadium, U.S. Bank Stadium, next season. Here are some of my other favorite photos from the Vikings final game outdoors. Thanks for looking!
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