This was a game both teams needed to win in order to preserve their playoff hopes. The Vikings appeared hungry, as if their season was on the line, while the Rams initially looked deflated and put forth a shockingly inconsistent performance.
Sam Bradford had a discouraging game after losing a fumble and coughing up an interception in the first half, but the poor protection from the offensive line didn't do him any favors. On defense, the Rams allowed Adrian Peterson to break free for an 82-yard touchdown, while they also forced far too many field goals instead of punts.
Bradford had two touchdown passes in the second half and the Rams made an admirable attempt at a comeback after trailing by 26 points entering the fourth quarter, but it wasn't meant to be.
One of the plays that secured the loss came on the Rams' final drive of the first half as they were down 27-7. A touchdown would have made it a two-score game heading into halftime, so when WR Chris Givens broke free downfield only to have Bradford slightly overthrow him, there was a collective sense of doom among St. Louis fans.
He almost made the play and the game could have potentially ended on a positive note, but "almost" doesn't count. In a way, that particular play perfectly summarizes the 2012 Rams—almost there, but not quite.
The Rams still have a chance to go up to Seattle and destroy those playoff hopes in the season finale, so there's still something to play for, but their 2012 playoff hopes have vanished.
As far as today's action against Minnesota, here are the key winners and losers for St. Louis.