Three-and-out: Three reasons the Vikings lost

The Vikings let another halftime lead turn into a loss and there are three areas that contributed to their second straight letdown – adjustments, penalties and time management. We look at the situations that led to the Vikings' loss with reaction from players and coaches.

The Vikings had a hard time trying to explain how they could let a double-digit halftime lead turn into a second straight loss, but wading the through the post-game conversations, there were some answers.

Here are three reasons a 17-0 halftime lead turned into a 24-20 loss:

1. Adjustments

Although offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said last week that he needed to do a better job of getting QB Donovan McNabb in a rhythm, players and coaches are often hesitant to discuss in-game adjustments. That's especially true when it comes after a loss.

But the Bucs were a little more forthcoming with the changes that helped them win the game.

"We went a little more man in the second half. It helped with the check downs and stuff like that," Bucs safety Cody Grimm said. "It's a little more gap-savvy. Everyone knows their gap rather than some people having like two gaps, falling back, stuff like that."

That must have helped. Tampa Bay's defense went from allowing 284 net yards to the Vikings in the first half to 114 in the second half.

They also made some changes on the offensive side of the ball to help their passing game.

"[The Vikings] had a good blitz package coming out. They were getting pressure up front. We basically just made a couple adjustments," Bucs QB Josh Freeman said. "It's just stuff that next week we will have to adjust faster. At the same time, we got them done in time and got a win. It's great to see guys go in, make a halftime adjustment and then come out and execute so well in the second half."

That helped Tampa Bay go from 62 net yards in the first half to 273 in the second half.

Still, Bucs coach Raheem Morris said an attitude adjustment was the biggest difference.

"The drastic adjustment was ‘do your job.' We came out the second half and did our job. We executed our game plan," he said. "We went through all situations and phases that we needed to go through and the guys came out executing a lot better than they did in the first half and that was the drastic change."

2. Penalties

For the second straight week, penalties were an issue late in the game. Against San Diego, the Vikings had two 15-yard penalties in the second half that helped extend drives and put the Chargers in better field position. They also committed three offsides penalties in the final drive that allowed the Chargers to kill out the clock.

This time, it was a couple of starting defensive linemen with the biggest penalties. With Tampa Bay facing third-and-17 late in the third quarter, the Bucs gained two yards and fumbled the ball, but on offside penalty on Brian Robison gave Tampa Bay new hope. The next play was a 51-yarder that set the Bucs up in field goal position.

"It's something that's inexcusable and can't happen. I own up to that myself," Robison said. "It's something that I can't do. It happened, and I've got to try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Sometimes mistakes like that happen, but it's inexcusable."

Midway through the fourth quarter, Jared Allen was flagged for roughing the quarterback for lowering his shoulder after Freeman completed a 19-yarder across midfield. With 15 more yards tacked on, the Bucs' next play with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Arrellious Benn to bring them within three points, 20-17.

"Penalties, yeah. The offside killed us. We could have had the ball at the 5-yard-line. Roughing the passer on me. I wouldn't have intentionally done it, obviously, but that's a knucklehead move on my part to get a penalty in that situation," Allen said. "… The last two games, we've been pathetic. To have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blow it, with this defense, Jiminy Cricket."

3. Late-game mismanagement

When the Bucs took possession of the ball at the Minnesota 39-yard line for the final time with 4:12 to play, they were still trailing, 20-17. But they completed three straight short passes that each ended up gaining nine yards or more to advance across midfield. At that point, they were in long field-goal range at the 29-yard line.

At the two-minute warning, they got inside the red zone with a fresh set of downs. It was apparent that, barring a turnover, the Bucs would at least have an opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. Since Tampa Bay had all three of its timeouts, time wasn't an issue either, but it should have been for the Vikings.

The Vikings could have started using their timeouts – they had their full complement left – but Frazier didn't call any of them. Two of Tampa Bay's next three plays finished in bounds and kept the clock running, and LeGarrette Blounted scored a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining.

The Vikings advanced near midfield, but time quickly ran out. Realistically, they could have had another minute and one timeout left had they used two timeouts during the Bucs' final plays inside the red zone.

"I did think about it, but where they were right around the two-minute mark and below. I said ‘You know what, we're going to stop them. We'll get this done.' It didn't happen," Frazier said.

"I really thought that we were going to stop them on defense – I really did – and make them kick a field goal or come up with a turnover," Frazier said. "We had a chance for a turnover there in that drive at their goal line. I really had confidence that we would get a turnover or force a field goal."

Even if the Vikings had held the Bucs to a game-tying field goal, having roughly 1:30 left in the game instead of 31 seconds might have given Minnesota a chance to get in position for the game-tying field goal. Instead, their last drive was dripping with desperation and there wasn't enough time to get across midfield.

Players and coaches will share in the loss, but by eliminating a series of mental mistakes and making a few adjustments, the Vikings had a chance to be looking at a 2-0 record instead a 0-2 mark that gives them slim odds of seeing the postseason.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"The Vikings had a hard time trying to explain how they could let a double-digit halftime lead turn into a second straight loss, but wading the through the post-game conversations, there were some answers. Here are three reasons a 17-0 halftime lead turned into a 24-20 loss: Although offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said last week that he needed to do a better job of getting QB Donovan McNabb in a rhythm, players and coaches are often hesitant to discuss in-game adjustments. That's especially true when it comes after a loss. But the Bucs were a little more forthcoming with the changes that helped them win the game. \"We went a little more man in the second half. It helped with the check downs and stuff like that,\" Bucs safety Cody Grimm said. \"It's a little more gap-savvy. Everyone knows their gap rather than some people having like two gaps, falling back, stuff like that.\" That must have helped. Tampa Bay's defense went from allowing 284 net yards to the Vikings in the first half to 114 in the second half. They also made some changes on the offensive side of the ball to help their passing game. \"[The Vikings] had a good blitz package coming out. They were getting pressure up front. We basically just made a couple adjustments,\" Bucs QB Josh Freeman said. \"It's just stuff that next week we will have to adjust faster. At the same time, we got them done in time and got a win. It's great to see guys go in, make a halftime adjustment and then come out and execute so well in the second half.\" That helped Tampa Bay go from 62 net yards in the first half to 273 in the second half. Still, Bucs coach Raheem Morris said an attitude adjustment was the biggest difference. \"The drastic adjustment was ‘do your job.' We came out the second half and did our job. We executed our game plan,\" he said. \"We went through all situations and phases that we needed to go through and the guys came out executing a lot better than they did in the first half and that was the drastic change.\" For the second straight week, penalties were an issue late in the game. Against San Diego, the Vikings had two 15-yard penalties in the second half that helped extend drives and put the Chargers in better field position. They also committed three offsides penalties in the final drive that allowed the Chargers to kill out the clock. This time, it was a couple of starting defensive linemen with the biggest penalties. With Tampa Bay facing third-and-17 late in the third quarter, the Bucs gained two yards and fumbled the ball, but on offside penalty on Brian Robison gave Tampa Bay new hope. The next play was a 51-yarder that set the Bucs up in field goal position. \"It's something that's inexcusable and can't happen. I own up to that myself,\" Robison said. \"It's something that I can't do. It happened, and I've got to try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Sometimes mistakes like that happen, but it's inexcusable.\" Midway through the fourth quarter, Jared Allen was flagged for roughing the quarterback for lowering his shoulder after Freeman completed a 19-yarder across midfield. With 15 more yards tacked on, the Bucs' next play with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Arrellious Benn to bring them within three points, 20-17. \"Penalties, yeah. The offside killed us. We could have had the ball at the 5-yard-line. Roughing the passer on me. I wouldn't have intentionally done it, obviously, but that's a knucklehead move on my part to get a penalty in that situation,\" Allen said. \"… The last two games, we've been pathetic. To have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blow it, with this defense, Jiminy Cricket.\" When the Bucs took possession of the ball at the Minnesota 39-yard line for the final time with 4:12 to play, they were still trailing, 20-17. But they completed three straight short passes that each ended up gaining nine yards or more to advance across midfield. At that point, they were in long field-goal range at the 29-yard line. At the two-minute warning, they got inside the red zone with a fresh set of downs. It was apparent that, barring a turnover, the Bucs would at least have an opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. Since Tampa Bay had all three of its timeouts, time wasn't an issue either, but it should have been for the Vikings. The Vikings could have started using their timeouts – they had their full complement left – but Frazier didn't call any of them. Two of Tampa Bay's next three plays finished in bounds and kept the clock running, and LeGarrette Blounted scored a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. The Vikings advanced near midfield, but time quickly ran out. Realistically, they could have had another minute and one timeout left had they used two timeouts during the Bucs' final plays inside the red zone. \"I did think about it, but where they were right around the two-minute mark and below. I said ‘You know what, we're going to stop them. We'll get this done.' It didn't happen,\" Frazier said. \"I really thought that we were going to stop them on defense – I really did – and make them kick a field goal or come up with a turnover,\" Frazier said. \"We had a chance for a turnover there in that drive at their goal line. I really had confidence that we would get a turnover or force a field goal.\" Even if the Vikings had held the Bucs to a game-tying field goal, having roughly 1:30 left in the game instead of 31 seconds might have given Minnesota a chance to get in position for the game-tying field goal. Instead, their last drive was dripping with desperation and there wasn't enough time to get across midfield. Players and coaches will share in the loss, but by eliminating a series of mental mistakes and making a few adjustments, the Vikings had a chance to be looking at a 2-0 record instead a 0-2 mark that gives them slim odds of seeing the postseason. 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