Cause And Effect - Why Second Halves Are Going So Badly

If the Vikings want to have any shot at turning this season around, this needs to start happening more frequently in the second halves of ball games. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Okay, folks. . .we must move on from this, but not without taking one last look back.

So, the Minnesota Vikings haven't been very good in the second halves of ball games this year. We know this. From what I can see, there are two big reasons as to why this is, and they're both pretty closely connected.

The first one is the complete lack of Adrian Peterson in the second half of these ball games. Mark Craig pointed this out at the Star-Tribune, but the numbers are so mind-boggling that they need to be stated again.

In the first halves of the Vikings' first three football games this year, Adrian Peterson has carried the ball 29 times for 230 yards and three touchdowns. That means that, in the first half, every time Adrian Peterson is handed the football, it's basically eight yards to the good.

In the second halves of the Vikings' first three football games this year, Adrian Peterson has carried the ball 22 carries for 66 yards. His yards/carry is cut more than in half. That. . .that's not good.

This leads to the second problem the Vikings have had in the second half this year. . .a complete and total inability to convert on third down after halftime. After the jump, I will proceed to fully break this down.

These are taken directly from the NFL.com Game Books for each game. To start, we'll look at the third down situations the Vikings have faced in the first halves of ball games.

San Diego Game, First Half

3rd & 9 - Pass to Adrian Peterson for 4 yards (not converted)
3rd & 3 - Pass to Michael Jenkins for 12 yards (converted)
3rd & 5 - Run by Percy Harvin for 8 yards (converted)
3rd & 3 - Pass to Jenkins for 11 yards (converted)

3rd & 6 - Pass for Harvin incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 6 - Run by Harvin for 4 yards (not converted)

Tampa Bay Game, First Half

3rd & 10 - Pass for Visanthe Shiancoe incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 5 - Pass to Harvin for 11 yards (converted)
3rd & 1 - Run by Peterson for 1 yard and a touchdown (converted)
3rd & 1 - Run by Toby Gerhart for 5 yards (converted)
3rd & 12 - Donovan McNabb scramble for 13 yards (converted)

3rd & 4 - Pass for Shiancoe incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 16 - Pass to Gerhart for 42 yards (converted)

Detroit Game, First Half

3rd & 1 - Run by Peterson for 1 yard (converted)
3rd & 8 - Pass to Jenkins for 9 yards (converted)

3rd & 14 - Pass for Peterson incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 3 - Pass for Harvin incomplete, roughing the passer penalty on Detroit (converted)
3rd & 4 - McNabb sacked (not converted)
3rd & 8 - McNabb scramble for 8 yards (converted)
3rd & 5 - Pass for Gerhart incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 10 - Pass to Peterson for 6 yards (not converted)
3rd & 5 - Pass to Shiancoe for 8 yards and a touchdown (converted)

And now, to the second halves of those same games.

San Diego Game, Second Half

3rd & 7 - Donovan McNabb scramble for 10 yards (converted)
3rd & 6 - Pass for Bernard Berrian incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 10 - Pass for Peterson incompleted (not converted)
3rd & 8 - Pass for Berrian incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 10 - McNabb sacked (not converted)

Tampa Bay Game, Second Half

3rd & 18 - Pass to Peterson for 5 yards (not converted)
3rd & 13 - McNabb sacked (not converted)
3rd & 11 - Pass for Lorenzo Booker incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 6 - Pass for Devin Aromashodu incomplete (not converted)

Detroit Game, Second Half

3rd & 5 - Pass for Berrian incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 18 - Pass for Jenkins incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 1 - Pass for Harvin incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 9 - Pass to Jenkins for 8 yards (not converted)
3rd & 14 - Pass for Berrian incomplete (not converted)
3rd & 5 - Pass for Berrian incomplete (not converted)

The Vikings are 13 for 22 on third down in the first halves of ball games this year, which is pretty damn good. They're also 1-for-15 on third down in the second halves of ball games this year, which is outright freaking terrible. Feel free to throw in the failed fourth down on Sunday that followed up that 8-yard pass to Jenkins there, too. To put it another way, try to wrap your head around this:

The Minnesota Vikings have not converted a third down in the second half of a football game since the ten-minute mark of the third quarter of the season opener. That's 55 minutes of football. . .nearly one full regulation game. . .without converting a single third down.

In the first half, the Vikings' average third down distance to go is about 6.3 yards, which is manageable for an offense like Minnesota's. In the second half, that number goes up to 9.4 yards, which is not. And it can be directly attributed to the absence of Adrian Peterson in the second halves of ball games.

I'm not sure if this is happening by design, or if the three teams we've played have simply taken Peterson away in the second half thus far. If it's the latter, then something needs to be done to change that. If it's the former, then by God somebody needs to be fired, because the idea of removing Adrian Peterson from your game plan by choice is simply too mind-numbingly stupid for me to comprehend.

The second half roadblock thing is clearly in this team's head now. You're going to have a hell of a time convincing anybody otherwise. This team is not completely without talent. . .for at least half of each game this year, we've seen this. But this team needs to start putting it together in the second half, and that starts with re-establishing the best running back in the game after the teams come out of the locker room at the half. This team obviously spends the first half getting him going, and they reap the benefits of that. Not doing so after halftime of these games is inexcusable.

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