The struggles of the Vikings offense have been the talking point of the 0-4 start to their season. The brutal third-down conversion number has screamed out to how ineffective the Vikings offense has been, but it was the continuing trend of defensive letdowns that led to the turning point of the game.
While the offense has forced the Vikings defense to be on the field considerably more than it would like to be because of its inability to convert third downs, opponents have found ways to score early and often in the second half.
In the second half of the season-opening 24-17 loss to San Diego, the Chargers had five drives. Two led to touchdowns, one to a field goal, one resulted in a Jared Allen interception in the red zone and final drive was San Diego bleeding out the clock after forcing the Vikings to use all three of their time outs.
In the 24-20 home-opening loss against Tampa Bay, the Bucs had the ball five times in the second half. They scored three touchdowns, had one field goal and had a turnover on an interception by Husain Abdullah in the end zone that would have likely been another score.
In last week's 26-23 loss to Detroit, the Lions had the ball eight times after halftime. They scored on six of those drives – getting four field goals and two touchdowns.
With all the problems the Vikings have had, much of the blame belongs squarely on the defense not being able to get off the field. Entering Sunday's game with the Chiefs, taking out the game-ending drive in which the Chargers took a knee, opposing offenses have had the ball 17 times. Of those, they scored on 13 of them (seven touchdowns, six field goals) and two of the other three had the opponent in the red zone prior to interceptions by the Vikings.
After getting a stop on the first drive of the second half and taking a 10-9 lead, it was up to the defense to make the lead hold up.
9:06 remaining, 3rd quarter – Pinned on his own 7-yard line, Matt Cassel completed passes of 28 and 15 yards to Steve Breaston, including a conversion on a third-and-7 from the Chiefs 44-yard line. The defense got a stop, but it was close enough for kicker Ryan Succop to bang a 54-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 12-10 lead.
4:01, 3rd quarter – After a 21-yard punt return that featured several missed tackles, the Chiefs opened on the Vikings 45-yard line. Backed up by a pair of penalties into a first-and-25 situation, Dwayne Bowe burned the Vikings for 28 yards to the Vikings 12-yard line. The defense stiffens, but that play allows for Succop to hit another field goal and give Kansas City a 15-10 lead.
14:30, 4th quarter – After the Vikings go three-and-out taking just 30 seconds off the clock, the Chiefs get the ball right back on their own 41-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Cassel throws a bomb to Bowe, who pulls it in, breaks a tackle and scores on a 52-yard touchdown to make the score 22-10.
The Vikings would get a stop on their final drive, as the Chiefs were trying to kill clock, but the inability of the Vikings to keep the Chiefs off the board in three straight second-half drives, turned a 10-9 second half lead into a 22-10 deficit that was to much to overcome and, in the end, wound up being the turning point.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Turning point: Second-half defensive collapse
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