Having seen their first-half leads collapse in each of their first three losses, the feeling is starting to get in some players' heads. Different players are taking different approaches to that feeling.
In almost 182 minutes of football, the Vikings have trailed for less than seven minutes. And yet they're 0-3 heading to Kansas City on Sunday.
Now that's a psychological hurdle to overcome.
"It's something that now we have to get it mentally out of our head that the second half has not been very well for us," defensive end Brian Robison
said. "I think any time when it happens three weeks in a row, it is in [our heads]."
The Vikings have blown halftime leads of 10 points at San Diego, 17 points against the Buccaneers and 20 points against the Lions. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have trailed by 10, 13 and 17 points this season.
Naturally, if the Vikings take a lead, everybody will be thinking about what happened the first three weeks.
"It should be in the back of everybody's head, but you also don't want to come out in the third quarter going, 'OK, we don't want this to happen,'" receiver Percy Harvin
said. "I think you just come out there, go with the flow of the game. If there is no flow, try to create a big play. We definitely got to change something that's going on."
Running back Adrian Peterson
said it's not something that's "stuck in our heads."
"I went into the locker room [Sunday] confident and with a mindset of, 'Hey, coming out, making sure we get a fast start,' not, 'Oh, here we go again,'" Peterson said. "That wasn't my frame of mind. But it ended up being that, 'Here we go again' after the game."
It seems like No. 1 on the Vikings' to-do list, but apparently the coaches need a reminder to keep track of how many carries Adrian Peterson is getting in the second half of games.
A day after Peterson had just five carries for five yards in the second half of a 26-20 overtime loss to the Lions, coach Leslie Frazier said the coaches have to "revisit" their approach and be "mindful" to stay committed to feeding the football to their All-Pro running back.
"What we have to make sure we are always conscious of – and I have to remind myself of this – even if Adrian gets stopped for a negative gain, or two yards because they have so many people at the line of scrimmage, he is such a great player that even against eight-man fronts he can still make something happen and you can't ever forget that."
Despite halftime leads of 10, 17 and then 20 points on Sunday, Peterson's second-half carries have been limited. He has 22 carries for 66 yards (3.0) and no touchdowns in the second half. In the first half, he's been dominant with 230 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries (6.4).
Peterson has not complained about his reduced role in the second half. But asked if he thinks the team should stay committed to giving him the ball more, he smiled and said, "What do you think?"
The Vikings head to Kansas City on Sunday to play the Chiefs' 28th-ranked run defense. Look for a heavier dose of Peterson throughout the game.
"[Coach Frazier] kind of addressed that, talking in the team meeting, but he hasn't come to me personally and said anything," Peterson said. "But if he said it to [reporters], I guess that's what we're going to do, so I'll be looking forward to it."
No. 2 quarterback Christian Ponder, the rookie first-round draft pick, admits he's heard the fans calling for him to replace veteran Donovan McNabb in what has become just the fourth 0-3 start in the Vikings' 51-year history. Although Ponder obviously would love to join his many draft classmates on the field, he's not lobbying for the job behind McNabb's back. "The second-string QB is always the favorite player on the team," he said. "It's definitely not deserving. Donovan is playing well. It's the whole team that needs to figure it out. The quarterback position is definitely not the problem."
QB Donovan McNabb has only one interception, but he's also made only a few plays, and none of them have come in the second half. He's 1-for-11 passing for eight yards and no first downs on third down in the second half.
TE Kyle Rudolph made a catch in the second half against the Lions that showed why the Vikings drafted him. QB Donovan McNabb was wildly inaccurate throughout the half, but Rudolph was able to reach behind to snag a reception for 20 yards.
WR Percy Harvin missed the last two possessions against the Lions because he became ill on the sideline. He could have returned, but the Vikings never got the ball in OT. Harvin saw more snaps against the Lions and had a combined 88 yards from scrimmage (47 receiving, 41 rushing). His 39-yard run was the longest at the Metrodome by a receiver.
WR Michael Jenkins isn't a dangerous receiver. He's not a burner or a shifty guy. But he runs very good routes and finds holes in the defense. He caught nine of the 11 balls thrown his way against the Lions. He also has a team-high 15 catches, but only a 9.5 average per catch.
CB Chris Cook gave up a 32-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson, but the 6-2 corner also made two plays that show why the Vikings drafted him in the second round last year. Facing the 6-5, speedy Johnson, Cook jumped and swatted a ball from Johnson's grasp. He also made a diving pass defense.
DT Kevin Williams came out of Sunday's game tired, but healthy. The plantar fasciitis in his left foot bothered him early, but loosened up enough for him to play 61 of 70 snaps.
LT Charlie Johnson needs to step it up. He's vulnerable to speed rushers, which is hurting the offense. The team worked out free agent T Max Starks. Although no move is expected soon, Johnson knows the team is starting to look.
K Ryan Longwell continues to be one of the steadiest kickers in the league. He's made 6 of 6 field goals this season and has only three misses in the past three seasons.