The Vikings knew they blew a 17-point halftime lead, but the stats showed just how dominant they were in the first half, and just how much things changed in the second half.
To look at the final game stats, you would think the Vikings had won. They held the ball for seven more minutes (33:30 to 26:30), they gained 63 more yards (398-335), had more first downs (25-19) and ran for 186 yards – all the kind of numbers that usually lead to a victory.
"It's hard to swallow any pill where you feel like you dominated the game," receiver Percy Harvin said. "We dominated that game for the most part, but for your record to say you're 0-2, it's hard for us to swallow."
The problem, as it was in the season-opening loss to San Diego, was in the second half. The Chargers outgained the Vikings 273-114 in the second half and, after having just three first downs in the first half, rolled up 16 first downs in the second half, as opposed to just eight by the Vikings.
Adrian Peterson finished the game with 120 rushing yards on 25 carries. LeGarrette Blount led the Bucs with 71 yards on 13 carries, gaining 67 of them on eight carries in the second half.
Josh Freeman ended up winning the battle of the quarterbacks, completing 22 of 31 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 91.2. Donovan McNabb completed 18 of 30 passes for 228 yards with no TDs or interceptions, for a passer rating of 83.8.
Harvin was the main man in the passing attack, catching seven passes for 76 yards. Nobody else had more than three.
Bernard Berrian made his first catch of the season in the third quarter. The 17-yard grab would be his only catch of the day.
A pleasant surprise was running back Toby Gerhart. He didn't get used much, but made the most of his opportunities. He touched the ball just three times, but gained 78 yards – rushing twice for 36 yards and catching one pass for 42 more yards. His 31-yard run and his 42-yard reception in the second quarter were both career bests in each category.
Antoine Winfield led all defensive players with 11 tackles – all of them solo tackles.
Everson Griffen recorded his first sack of his career in the second half.
Cornerback Chris Cook didn't play in the second half after suffering a groin injury on the first drive of the second quarter.
In what could have been the biggest game-changer of the day, the Vikings recovered a San Diego fumble deep in their own territory, but the play was negated by an offside penalty on Brian Robison that had nothing to do with the outcome of the play. It kept the Buccaneers drive alive and they would take advantage, scoring a field goal that, at the time, cut the Vikings lead to 17-10.
The Vikings special teams will have to do some extra film study after getting completely fooled by the Buccaneers, who executed an on-side kick to near-perfection. While the Vikings came away with the ball after a scrum ensued as players dove for the ball, the officials ruled that a Buccaneers player had recovered before the mass of bodies converged around the ball.
The Vikings' domination of the first half was complete and resounding. The Vikings held the ball for 19:13 of the game's first 30 minutes, outgained the Bucs 284-62 and had 17 first downs, as opposed to just three for Tampa Bay.
Much of the time-of-possession edge for the Vikings was the result of a 14-play drive in the second quarter that ate up 7:45 of the game clock. That, combined with a 12-play, 90-yard drive in the first quarter led to the lopsided time of possession edge for the Vikings.
Peterson, who had just 16 carries in Week 1, had 15 rushes for 83 yards and two touchdowns by halftime.
In the first half, the Vikings offense converted five of seven third-down opportunities. In the second half, they went 0-for-4 on third down, which helped make the Tampa comeback possible.
The Vikings have outscored their opponents 34-7 in the first half of games, but have been outscored 41-3 in the second half.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave showed another way to utilize Harvin in the offense. In the second quarter Harvin lined up as a single back and took a handoff for eight yards.
Antoine Winfield made his 100th start as a Viking on Sunday.
The Vikings deactivated defensive ends Adrian Aawasom and D'Aundre Reed, leaving just three DEs on the game-day roster – Allen, Robison and Griffen.
The Vikings became the last NFC team to play a conference game. In Week 1, the only NFC teams that didn't have a matchup against a conference opponent were the Vikings and the Cowboys.
Sunday was the 52nd time the Vikings and Buccaneers have played. Prior to the NFL's realignment, the Vikings and Bucs were both in the NFC Central Division.
The attendance was 62,461, the 137th straight sellout at the Metrodome.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.