In Kansas City, fans are distraught. In Miami, the death vigil for head coach Tony Sporano is underway. In St. Louis, they're ready to jump off the Gateway Arch. But, it's easy to point at why those teams have started off the 2011 season at 0-3. It isn't as easy to explain why the Vikings have lost their first three games after building double-digit leads at halftime in all three.
It has been a source of frustration for the players, but the belief is that any winning streak starts with one game and there is little use expending too much energy wondering what could have been in the first three losses and keeping the focus straight ahead, not looking over their shoulders.
"I think the team has moved on," center John Sullivan said. "We've made the corrections. We came in on Monday and watched the tape. There's no point in dwelling on it. We moved on. We're on to Week 4. We're playing Kansas City. What's happened so far this season doesn't affect what happens this Sunday. We're focused on what's important."
Jared Allen was among those who got encouragement from former Viking Chris Doleman Wednesday at practice. Doleman, who had 21 sacks in 1989, told the current players to keep their heads up and the wins will start coming. Allen said he took solace in those words, because the problems that have plagued the Vikings thus far in the 2011 season are self-inflicted wounds.
"We have such a good team here, it's what we've done [to lose games]," Allen said. "We've given the games away. It's not like we've gotten throttled for three games. We could easily be 3-0 and singing a different song. We've just got to quit beating ourselves and be almost as cliché as we can be and win one game at a time."
As the Vikings have tried to make things right on offense and defense, it has been a play here or a play there that could have turned each of those three losses into potential victories. It isn't a matter of another team imposing its will on the Vikings, it's been keeping everyone on the same page and working as a unit.
"It's little things," Sullivan said. "It takes 11 guys to be successful on offense. If you even have one guy wiped out on one play, it can totally throw it off. There is no glaring correction that needs to be made. It's just little things across the board."
The Vikings have kiddingly suggested that maybe they shouldn't leave the field at halftime – instead sitting in the end zone like a junior varsity team sucking on orange wedges – or should play the National Anthem to start the second half as well. Tight end Kyle Rudolph said the team has been kicking itself for letting games get away because, while there are some teams in the NFL that deserve to be 0-3, the Vikings aren't one of them.
Playing a full 60 minutes efficiently has been the primary problem and Greg Camarillo pointed out that the only stats that matter are wins and losses and, to date, regardless of the talent the Vikings have shown in the first 30 minutes of games, the outcome is all that matters and the outcome says the Vikings were the worse team in all three games.
It would be easy for finger-pointing to start and blame to be assigned for the Vikings' slow start, but that hasn't happened. There isn't the "sky is falling" mentality that was so pervasive last season when the Vikings got off to a similarly slow start. If anything, morale remains relatively high and, in the end, that might be what holds the team together as they try to salvage the 2011 season and get back into the playoff chase, however slim the chances.
"It's surprising," Allen said of the mood in the locker room. "It hasn't been that tough. It would be one thing if we were terrible. It's disappointing to know we had games locked up and blew it, but the silver lining in the whole thing is that we've been thumping people in the first half. We just need to pull it together, pull our heads out of our keisters and finish the game off."
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.