The Minnesota Vikings were beaten 41-17 by the Green Bay Packers in their Week 17 game at Lambeau Field, but key injuries suffered by right tackle Brian O’Neill and center Austin Schlottmann may have an even bigger impact than the loss itself.
Brian O'Neill gets carted off, ruled out with calf injury (via @TheRealForno)
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O’Neill, recently voted to the Pro Bowl, was carted off the field in the first half when attempting to chase down Green Bay defensive back Darnell Savage. O’Neill went down with a non-contact calf injury and had to be carted off the field as Savage returned a Kirk Cousins pass 75 yards for a touchdown.
Schlottmann had suffered an ankle injury earlier in the game, and was ruled out. The center had been in the lineup in place of Garrett Bradbury, who has missed 4 consecutive games with a back injury.
The Vikings were still alive for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs at the start of the game, as the Philadelphia Eagles were beaten 20-10 by the New Orleans Saints. However, with their loss to the Packers, the Vikings had fallen to the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. Both Minnesota and San Francisco have 12-4 records, but the Niners have the tiebreaker edge since they have the better conference record (9-2 vs. 7-4).
The Packers (8-8) have won 4 consecutive games and control their own playoff destiny. If they defeat the Detroit Lions (8-8) at home in the regular-season finale, they will gain the No. 7 spot in the NFC playoff structure.
The Vikings could regain the No. 2 position in the NFC playoffs if they defeat the Chicago Bears in Week 18 and the Niners lose at home to the Arizona Cardinals.
The injury to Brian O’Neill appears to be a major blow for the Vikings with the playoffs approaching.