Mr. Webster defines "deja vu" as "something overly or unpleasantly familiar." In today's contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there were multiple cases of this for me. The first was the eerily familiar way this game played out compared to last week. Vikings take the lead early, score 17 in the first half, then blow it down the stretch and end up allowing 24 points. More of my deja vu moments, plus the good, bad, and game ball after the jump.
The third familiar sighting has been that we are having a season almost exactly like the Detroit Lions (who visit Mall of America Field next week at noon) had last season. We have been competitive every game thus far, and have had chances to win, but can't quite find a way to win. That's all I have for now, so on to some analysis.
The Good: I think you have to start with the atmosphere. Standing on the Vikings sideline before the game, you could just tell everybody was jacked for the first home game. Chad Greenway was jumping around and headbutting teammates. The D-Linemen were pumping up the crowd in their corner with still 40 minutes to go until game time. Shaking hands with Zygi and Mark Wilf, you could tell they were relieved to be away from the stadium and lockout talks, and just watch some football. Once again, we got off to a hot start. Jared Allen was roping calves early, when he brought down Josh Freeman for a loss of 6 yards on a sack to start the game. Adrian Peterson was phenominal, as expected, setting the record for rushing touchdowns as a Viking and hitting the 6000 yard mark in just 63 games. Husain Abdullah did a great job of jumping the route on his pick and taking a lazy pass by Freeman back around the 30. Percy Harvin was great in the open field, and Antoine Winfield did a good job tackling in the open field. In addition, I thought the play-calling was far better than last week. No Webb-cat, more tight end involvement, and we established the run, which set up the play-action.
The Bad: In listening to Vikings Fanline on KFAN on my way back to the 605, a majority of the callers are complaining that the "halftime adjustments" are what killed us. I highly doubt any of those callers were in the Vikings locker room at halftime, so don't use the cliche just because we didn't perform well in the second half. That being said, this team does not know how to put together two solid halves. In the first half this season, we've outscored our opponents, 34-7. In the scond halves, we've been outscored 41-3. This team has to figure out how to keep the same intensity throughout the duration of the game. Donovan McNabb improved from last week, but there is still a lot he needs to work on. His receivers did a solid job of getting open, but at times, D-Mac just flat out missed them. The first one that comes to mind is when Aromashodu was wide open on the left side of the field and Donovan threw it 2 feet over his head. Aromashodu is 6'4". Not many high school quarterbacks could throw it that far over the head of a 6'4" wide receiver. Another was down the stretch on a throw to Shiancoe. Visanthe had no one near him as McNabb was rolling out to his right. Donovan was about 15-20 feet away from Shank, and rifled it in there like a certain #4 used to do, but the throw was way off target. Shiancoe made a tremendous, one-handed catch, but had to fall to the ground for only a gain of four. You could tell that Visanthe was not too pleased with his quarterback at that point. When you try to point out the turning point of the game, you have to say it was when Raheem Morris went all Sean Payton on us, and the Bucs recovered a surprise onside kick. I'm not going to go out and put all the blame on Kenny Onatolu for not hauling it in, but whoever was lined up next to him (I apologize for not knowing) was already turned around and had taken two steps back before he realized Michael Koenen had completely burned him. There was more bad about this game (Cedric giving up on Benn's TD, Berrian can't catch a cold), but I want to touch on just a couple more things. First, we went into the locker room after the final buzzer with all three timeouts. I understand that Leslie has confidence in his defense, but keeping all three timeouts is just ridiculous. Also, when Percy jogged out to the end zone after the final Blount touchdown, most of the people sitting in section 114 with me seemed like they thought there was still a glimmer of hope, with #12 back deep to return. Harvin quickly squandered our hopes though, fumbling the kick.
Game Ball: I'm only going to pick the game ball recipient of the winning team this week and let the readers pick the Vikings winner. Mike Morris of KFAN picked Jim Kleinsasser (who did a great job blocking), so I'll include him as an option. So, the week 2 game ball goes to....LeGarrette Blount. Blount took advantage of Kevin Williams being out, busting runs right up the middle throughout the second half, and scoring two touchdowns, including the game winner with 31 seconds remaining.
I think we made more progress this week, but we will have another tough test next week when the Motor City Kitties come to town. Hopefully we can learn to put two halves together and finally get off the schneid and win our first game of the season. Make sure to vote for the game ball and I will see you later this week with my week 3 preview.