In some ways, they may be right. When fans looked at the 2011 schedule back in April, if they were to assign wins and losses to the 16 games on the schedule, heading into San Diego would have been viewed by most as a game the team would likely lose and the Vikings were more than one-touchdown underdogs. It wasn't that they lost that got fans so nuts. It was how they lost that left such a bad taste in the mouth.
Blowing a 10-point halftime lead is a football version of water torture – giving up yards eight to 10 yards at a time. For some, it was so painful to watch simply because the outcome seemed inevitable long before the results actually took place.
It doesn't help that the other three teams in the division all beat teams from the NFC South – the Packers winning a shootout with the Saints, the Bears throttling Atlanta at home and the Lions going into Tampa Bay to steal a win from the Buccaneers. To those three teams, their wins in Week 1 were more than just 1/16th of the schedule. For the Vikings, trailing everyone by one game is just that much harder to swallow.
With the Vikings heading home for the next two games, it may well be a critical part of the schedule facing the 2011 Vikings, just as the Miami loss in Week 2 of 2010 sent their season into a downward spiral. After getting off to a 0-2 start, the Vikings spent the rest of their season simply trying to climb out of the hole that they dug. They led at halftime of the season opener against New Orleans only to stumble in the second half, which was followed up with an unexpected home loss to the Dolphins.
Will history repeat itself? If it does, it could turn into a long season for the Vikings if they once again have to spend the better part of their season making up for early struggles. Sunday's loss to the Chargers may, in fact, be just 1/16th of the season, but how it all came down will be the last impression that was made, not the simple fact the team lost on the road.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.