Well, it certainly was a thrilling finish. It sucks to be on the other end of a game-winning field goal, but I'll take this kind of game over a blow-out loss any week. Here are some of my kneejerk reactions, immediately following the 23-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Read on after the jump.
Kneejerk #1: Dumb penalties at the worst times are a signal of what?
It shows a lack of discipline first of all. The penalty on Sendejo was SO close. He barely scratched the kicker going for the ball, but you have to be more careful there. But the penalty on Jared Allen was justified and just a stupid, stupid play by #69. What the hell was he thinking? Then there was the penalty on Matt Kalil...rookie mistake? I know the team was getting frustrated that things were not going their way, but these players need to learn to play smart, disciplined football. "Shooting yourself in the foot" doesn't even begin to describe the problems. Is this one the fault of coaches, players, or both? I'm not even going to call out the refs. We all know they're bad, and once again they missed some blatantly obvious calls, made some questionable ones and got some of them right. This is par for the course of the replacement refs, and it effects both teams.
Kneejerk #2: Can the defense do anything against the pass?
When we needed a stop late in the 2nd quarter to prevent a score heading into halftime, we couldn't get it. When we needed a stop at the end of the game with 30 seconds to go to force overtime, we couldn't get it. While we kept their 3rd down conversion rate under 50%, we couldn't get a stop against the passing offense when we needed it most. It sure feels like we have the same problems in the secondary as last year, despite mostly new personnel and a new defensive coordinator.
Kneejerk #3: Christian Ponder needs to show more sense of urgency and energy sooner, and needs to put the ball in Harvin's hands sooner.
Was it the playcalling mid-way through the 4th quarter or what? We needed a quick score there, and instead burned over 5 minutes of game clock slowly marching down the field. It took awhile to get Harvin involved in the offense again. We need to come out of the gate fired up! I saw the same thing last week, and this is a trend we don't want to start. We can't wait until the 4th quarter to get things going. This almost feels like the reverse of last season. Last year we did so well early and collapsed...this year we're doing poorly for 3 quarters and then suddenly turning it on at the last second with too little, too late.
Kneejerk #4: Adrian Peterson looked slow.
He's clearly not 100%. His longest run on the day was 6 yards, and he only averaged 3.75 yards per carry. This was the kind of performance we expected last week...perhaps he's human after all. Our gameplan can no longer rely on Peterson to carry the load. We're gonna have to the put the game in Ponder and Harvin's hands.
Kneejerk #5: 1-1 isn't as good as 2-0, but hey, it's not as bad as 0-2.
Next week will be a HUGE test for our team. If we can keep it close, or even squeeze out a win against San Fran, it could be a team-defining moment. If we get blown out it could signal the beginning of another long season.