THE FRIDAY TICKET
Vikes, McNabb fall flat in San Diego
September 12, 2011By Wally Langfellow of Minnesota Score
It started out so well. Percy Harvin returns the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings bend but don't break defense does enough to disrupt Phillip Rivers and the Vikes take a 17-7 lead into halftime. Then reality strikes.
The Chargers march down the field on the opening drive of the second half and breeze through the Vikings defense. Then an inept Viking offense and a mistake prone Viking defense takes over. Chargers end up outscoring the Vikings 17-0 in the second half and onto a 24-17 Chargers win, in what could be the start of a very long season for the Vikings.
Let's break it down:
Offense: McNabb was able to scramble for a couple first downs, but for the most part he looked old and ineffective. Adrian Peterson went over 100 yards, but most of it came on a couple long first half runs. In the second half, when they really needed him to establish the Vikings running game, he couldn't. Put part of the blame on the patchwork Vikings offensive line. The former stars of that line (Birk, McKinnie) were busy tearing apart the Steelers defense today in Baltimore.
Defense: Did a good job of keeping Phillip Rivers from beating them long, but were slow to come up and make tackles. They made Chargers running back Mike Tolbert look like Jim Brown..not finishing off tackles and allowing him to bulldoze his way to 100-plus yards and three touchdowns. A couple of interceptions should've proved to be critical, but only delayed the inevitable. Oh yea, and the defensive line should think about something they probably learned in junior high...watch the ball being snapped, don't listen to the quarterback. They offsided the Vikes right out of the game in the final moments.
Special Teams: With Longwell and Kluwe, the Vikings still have two of the most reliable kickers in football. Return teams obviously had a decent day...probably the brightest spot of the day.
Coaching: The offense seemed way too conservative. If AP couldn't grind out 10 yards on first and second down, the Chargers were in McNabb's face on 3rd down. Then there was the one second half series where they got too cute by putting in the wildcat for two plays and a total of two yards...this after the Vikings had picked up a couple first downs by being conventional.
NFC North: Here's the worst news of the day. The Bears looked like world-beaters crushing the Falcons. The defending Super Bowl champion Packers ran up 45 points on New Orleans and even the Lions were victorious. Maybe all the prognosticators were right. The Vikes start right where they ended last season. Last place.
Let's see...Vikings are going to struggle (again), Gophers are not very good (again), the Twins have been a train wreck. So what comes after football season?
How 'bout them Lynx?