No matter how they tried to explain the loss in the locker room afterwards, frustrating was the emotion of the day.
"It's kind of frustrating. I'm pretty sure it's frustrating to watch. Who wants to watch that?" tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "You're up 17-0 in the first half and they come back on you. There's a lot of improvements to make."
After blowing a 17-7 halftime lead in the season opener at San Diego, it looked like the Vikings had made those improvements in the first half Sunday.
Adrian Peterson, who was the only offensive bright spot in the opener, continued his efficient and bullish rushing ways. In the first half against Tampa Bay, he carried the ball 15 times for 83 yards, a 5.5-yard average, and two touchdowns. Even his backup, Toby Gerhart, looked explosive in rushing two times for 36 yards and turning a short pass into a 42-yard gain.
And after a clunker of a second half in the opener, the Vikings had a repeat performance for the final 30 minutes again Sunday.
"It's frustrating anytime you lose two games in a row the way we lost them. The first 30 minutes, we looked pretty. The second half with a nice little lead we're giving up too many big plays and too many touchdowns," cornerback Antoine Winfield said.
In the first half, the Bucs gained three first downs to the Vikings' 17. The Bucs rushed for 23 yards to the Vikings' 137. The Bucs passed for 39 yards to the Vikings' 147. And the Bucs finished the half with 62 net yards to the Vikings' 284.
But by the time the game was done, the statistics were much more balanced. The Vikings still won the yardage battle, 398-335; the rushing battle, 186-105; and the battle for first downs, 25-19. But the scoreboard favored Tampa Bay.
"Almost bewildered by the fact that it couldn't have happened again, especially with the way we were playing," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Everybody was flying around and making plays and getting off the field on third downs. Just extremely disappointed in how it all [shook] out today."
While everything seemed to work in the first half, it quickly turned, but Winfield refuted the analysis that there was an emotional letdown at halftime.
"C'mon, this is professional football. Why would we have a letdown?" he said. "We're up 17 points at home. Nah, you just have to give Tampa credit. They played a full 60 minutes and came out with a win."
Percy Harvin was one of the offensive bright spots. While Adrian Peterson carried the ground game, gaining 120 yards on 25 carries, Harvin was the star of the passing offense. He was targeted eight times, catching seven passes for 76 yards. He, too, was asked about a potential emotional letdown.
"You can chop it up as whatever you want. We're just going to say we didn't play hard all the way to the end of the game, whether it was focus or fundamentals or whatever it was. We didn't play 60 minutes, just like last week, and our record shows it," Harvin said.
"It's hard to swallow any pill where you feel like you dominated the game. 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."
McNabb, who rebounded from a 39-yard passing performance in the opener to complete 18 of 30 passes for 228 yards, indicated the Vikings may have lost their aggressiveness in the fourth quarter.
"It's really just putting it out there for two halves. You can't have that aggressive mentality for three quarters and get to the fourth quarter and not be in it," McNabb said. "We need to have that attitude that we just cannot be stopped and when you step out on that field we are going to make you play for four quarters.
McNabb added: "You correct it mentally. You need to have that attitude. We've had great weeks of practice, to be honest, knock on wood. We haven't had a bad practice yet. But really it starts with the mental aspect of really having that attitude that you can't be stopped and then translate it out onto the field."
In assessing his emotional state, Shiancoe called it "very, very, very frustrating."
Harvin did him one better in assessing the frustration level.
"It's probably as high as it can go. It's frustrating when you move the ball, when you dominate the game and you still lose," he said. "That's tough, but that's just to show you in the National Football League, if you don't play 60 minutes a team can creep up and take one from you."
GRIFFEN ON THE BOARD
Second-year defensive lineman Everson Griffen got his first career sack in the second quarter when he came untouched on a third-down rush.
"It felt great. I'm finally on the board, and I've just got to keep on coming," Griffen said. "We've just got to keep on coming. But it felt great to get my first sack and contribute to this team."
After playing exclusively at defensive end in the first game, Griffen also got playing time at defensive tackle on Sunday. The Vikings were down to three defensive ends with Adrian Awasom (knee) deactivated, along with D'Audre Reed.
E.J. Henderson STARTS
Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson made the start Sunday after missing practices Thursday and Friday because of swelling in his knee.
Henderson was dealing with the effects of the titanium rod that was inserted into his leg in December 2009 after he fractured his femur playing against the Arizona Cardinals.
Henderson had the knee drained on Thursday, a procedure he had once last year on a Friday and didn't miss any time, so he was "pretty confident" that he would be able to play. He woke up Thursday morning with swelling and soreness in his knee. He had an X-ray on Thursday and Frazier said it revealed there was no structural damage.
Henderson had six tackles, including one for a loss.
Henderson was one of the three captains for the Vikings, joining QB Donovan McNabb and punter Chris Kluwe.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.