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COMMENTARY: All Vikes fans had left were boos

MINNEAPOLIS "Booooooooo!" Hey, that's not me talking. It's a direct quote from, oh, 60,000 people as they exited the Dome on Sunday. I was surprised they could even make any noise. The color had drained from their cheeks, and their eyes were glazed.

Quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Donovan McNabb after the game
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) talk after an NFL football game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. The Buccaneers came from behind to win 24-20. (AP Photo/Andy King)



Hey, that's not me talking. It's a direct quote from, oh, 60,000 people as they exited the Dome on Sunday. I was surprised they could even make any noise. The color had drained from their cheeks, and their eyes were glazed. It must have been quite an effort to reach down deep and summon up that final "booooooo!"

They had every reason to be displeased. For the second week in a row, their Vikings collapsed in the second half. And it wasn't just the cave-in that had everyone upset. It was the manner in which it occurred. On Tampa Bay's last drive, the one that completed the Bucs' comeback from a 17-point deficit to a 24-20 victory, there were so many receivers wide open, it simply was jaw-dropping to witness.

"They did some things to uncover guys," coach Leslie Frazier said.


Why didn't the Vikings do some things to cover them back up?

"I'm almost bewildered at the fact that it could happen again," linebacker Chad Greenway said.

"When you're up 17 points at home, you should never lose," offered cornerback Antoine Winfield.

Agreed. But with the game on the line, the pass rush disintegrated and the secondary went into a funk. Actually, those things were in evidence for most of the second half. On that last Bucs drive, however, Minnesota's defensive crumble accelerated in breathtaking fashion. I swear it looked as if the Vikings' defensive backs thought they were up by 21 points and went into a prevent defense -- just letting guys catch passes

in front of them.

"No," said Winfield. "We went into a little zone. We kind of went into a bend but don't break."

They broke. And the result is an 0-2 record with the hot Detroit Lions coming in next Sunday. What a mess. These Vikings have issues that go beyond the need for a group hug.

On a day in which Donovan McNabb raised his game to mediocre, and Adrian Peterson continued to run hard and effectively, their thin defense did them in. Frazier said the Bucs began running the ball more


effectively in the second half. That resulted, he added, in the Vikings' defensive front having to be a bit more cautious about rushing quarterback Josh Freeman.

Frazier said he didn't know why the Bucs began to run the ball more effectively. He did say he's going to try to find out. Good idea. Meanwhile, a weaker rush gave Freeman more time, which in turn exposed Minnesota's sub-par secondary. It's a secondary that was even more suspect than usual after cornerback Chris Cook went down with a groin injury in the first half.

"I'm trying to find a positive word," defensive end Jared Allen said. "And I really don't have one."

"I'm very, very, very frustrated," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "There is a lot of room for improvement from everybody: offense, defense, special teams."

Frazier looked beyond the individual breakdowns to try to summarize the team's problems.

"We've just got to do a better job of collectively playing for four quarters," he said. "We've got to make plays on both sides of the ball when the tide turns."

The assumption here is that he has players capable of stepping up and making a difference at key points in the game. Evidence suggests that he does. After all, the Vikings have managed to get out front in both of their games. They have shown some flash and dash. But when the other team pushes back in the second half ... pfffffft.

Here's the other shocker: The Vikings didn't commit a turnover Sunday. They did have a couple of bad penalties, but overall they didn't shoot themselves in the foot. Their collapse came totally as a result of their deteriorating play. They didn't give Tampa Bay anything. The Bucs just took it.


"They were getting pressure up front. We basically just made a couple of adjustments," Freeman said.

Where were the Vikings' counter-adjustments? The Bucs went into a no-huddle offense and the Vikings' defense acted as if a spaceship had just landed at midfield. I thought they all were going to run to the sideline to ask for special suits to protect them against radioactivity.

The best analysis I heard came from Allen: "They kicked the crap out of us in the second half."

"You've got to be a man and stand up and say that we just didn't get it done," Greenway noted.

OK, but what about next week? Is this fixable? An unsettling thought is that perhaps the Vikings simply do not have the talent and depth to play at a high level for 60 full minutes.

The 1969 team had a motto: "40 for 60" which meant 40 men going all out for 60 minutes. Perhaps the Vikings should update that slogan to better reflect the team's current state of affairs. They could go with something like "50 for 30."

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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