On the levels of frustration index, this loss ranks quite high. Mostly because this was a game I did not expect the Vikings to win; but they could have, and should have, won this game.
After the game famed Tampa Bay defensive guru Monte Kiffen reportedly told former Viking (and current KFAN color guy) Pete Bercich, \”you guys are more talented than us\”. Well, ESPN has the Bucs as the fifth best team in their Power Rankings, so I guess that means the Vikings should be fifth instead, right?
Do I think Kiffen was wrong? No, I don\’t. The Bucs are no where near the fifth best team in the league. They aren\’t even in the top 10. Their offense is atrocious, and their defense is old and doesn\’t have the talent it once had. The Vikings have a lot of talent, but have under performed, and the Vikings are missing talent in key positions (QB, LB (due to injury), and special teams).
So what happened down at the Big Sombrero (I don\’t care where they play today, it\’ll always be the Big Sombrero) last Sunday? Contrary to most people, the blame for this loss does not fall on the offense. This loss is squarely on the defense. They were unable to contain Jeff Garcia who had a career day running around the field making plays. Had they simply been able to contain and/or sack Garcia, 13 points would have been more than enough to beat the pitiful offense the Bucs have.
Don\’t believe me? Well, a lot of people are upset that AP didn\’t touch the ball during the 4th quarter. A smart person would point out that the Vikings only had seven offensive plays during that quarter and say that the offense stunk and AP should have gotten the ball. But an even smarter person would notice that the Vikings only had the ball for 2 minutes and 26 seconds in the 4th quarter. Who do you think had the ball the rest of that time? Which team\’s defense allowed the other team to go on a nine minute drive to eat up most of the quarter?
Late in that 4th quarter, following yet another disastrous special teams play (fumble), and an ill-advised decision to go for it on 4th and 3 from their own 27 yard line, the Vikings still had an excellent chance to win this game.
You expect these sorts of things from the Vikings. You can expect poor special teams play. You can expect poor coaching. You can expect an anemic offense. But what you don\’t expect is a top notch defense to allow a sub-par offense to dominate the 4th quarter.
While the offense had the opportunities to win the game late, they should have never been in that position.
The Vikings were out gained through the air (expected) out gained on the ground (shocking), and lost the time of possession (should never happen with the Vikings ground game).
It\’s very difficult to win on the road in the National Football League (imagine me saying that in a Shannon Sharpe type of cadence). But when you play an inferior opponent you have to take advantage. The Vikings defense played horribly and never made the adjustments to contain Garcia.
Still don\’t believe me? The Bucs were 5-12 on 3rd downs. This would make you think that the Vikings defense did ok. But the Bucs only punted once. That\’s right, one time. Five of those missed 3rd downs happened well within Viking territory and resulted in 4 of 5 from Josh Bidwell.
But… all is not lost. As I mentioned at the top, I didn\’t expect the Vikings to win this game, and in fact I wouldn\’t be surprised if they lose against Jacksonville next week. But the team is going to have to go on a serious run after that if they hope to make the playoffs.
Quite honestly, I\’m sort of hoping they would lose. Anything that gets Childress/Gus (and T-Jack for that matter) out of here faster and gets Bill Cowher/Serviceable QB in here sooner is alright by me.