Vikings Walked the Plank in Home Opener

I am not happy.

Reading the sports page after a Vikings' loss is about as refreshing and satisfying as that first Monday back to work after you spent your vacation trying to recover from severe food poisoning. That Monday morning postmortem of what went wrong during Sunday's game is the sort of thing that requires a medicinal dose of coffee and, in my case, black eyeliner.

The general, and not shocking, consensus is that not many of us out here in Vikings Land are happy about the Minnesota Vikings home-opener loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In what became a frightening case of football déjà vu, the Vikings started Sunday's game dominating on both sides of the ball, only to lose momentum, lose the lead, and then lose the game during a disappointing second half disintegration.

While the Vikings improved on their performance in San Diego with quarterback Donovan McNabb passing for 212 yards yesterday in comparison to 39 yards the previous week, noting the improvement in the passing game in the face of a demoralizing loss feels like a weak consolation prize. If the Vikings continue at this current rate of incremental improvement, they should be cruising up to their first win just before their bye week.

Join me after the jump. We'll talk more about the game and then I'll make an impassioned plea for you to cheer me up by doing something ridiculous.

I don't want to slide into the cynicism that starting the season 0-2 invites, but it's a challenge not to. Both the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions won in their match ups today. The Chicago Bears fell to the New Orleans Saints, but having won in week one, they're ahead of the Vikings who are squarely in the NFC North basement.

Just like in San Diego, the Vikings' defense couldn't get off the field in the second half and the offense couldn't stay on the field.

Back on the field after half-time, Tampa Bay marched 44 yards in a 33-second scoring strike, then they took a page out of Sean Payton's book, during the third quarter Raheem Morris and the Buccaneers gambled on an on-side kick that they recovered on their 47-yard line. Tampa Bay charged back from being down 17 points to win 24 to 20, scoring four times to the Vikings' single field goal. Adjusting to the Vikings pass rush, the Buccaneer passing game steadily gained ground against the Vikings' secondary, giving Buccaneers' running game opportunities to get back into the game.

On the offensive side of the ball, Bill Musgrave's multi-dimensional offense from the first half seemed to be nowhere in sight as the Buccaneers adjusted to limit Adrian Peterson (54 career touchdowns) and the rest of the offense struggled to regain their momentum. The Vikings punted away their opening possession of the second half, their only score in the second half coming from a field goal that capped off a 12-play drive at the top of the fourth quarter.

Staring down an 0-2 start that is eerily reminiscent to last season, fans are stuck wondering what the 2011 Vikings' are suffering. Is it poor coaching, poor execution, or poor conditioning? Whatever the culprit, the Vikings are hosting the undefeated Detroit Lions next week in what is a must-win game for the Vikings. The last time the Vikings made it to the playoffs after a 0-2 start was in 2008, but right now the playoffs feel improbable at best.

We can spend a lot of time analyzing exactly why the Vikings got completely owned by the Buccaneers in the second half, but Jared Allen seemed to sum it up the best.

"They kicked the crap out of us in the second half, and that sucks because we were dominating them in the first half. We've got to find a way to play for 60 minutes."

For as much as the Vikings have said that the 2011 season is not a lame duck season and not a rebuilding year, if they don't find a way to finish games that is exactly what it will be. The Chargers and the Buccaneers made adjustments and found a way to come back and win, the Vikings will have to do likewise if they are going to pull themselves out of the NFC North basement. When you look at what the Vikings were able to accomplish in the opening halves of their first two games this season, it makes it that much more frustrating to talk about these losses.

Clearly, the Vikings need a quasi-inspirational song choice and I desperately need a laugh.

 

Right now, the only thing that is going to make this Monday even a little bit bearable is the fact that it is national Talk Like a Pirate Day--hence my peculiar need for black eyeliner and my black t-shirt with the shiny silver skull and crossbones on it. In a last ditch effort to maintain my sense of humor and perspective, I ask beg that all you scurvy scum here on DN sprinkle your comments lavishly with pirate-speak. It won't take the sting out of the game, or diminish the looming specter of a crap season, but it will make me laugh and I could really use a good laugh after Sunday's game. Yarrr!

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