The Vikings still had hope at 0-3, but their loss Sunday effectively ended their playoff chances, according to NFL history. Plus, get 30 game-day notes that help tell the tale of the Vikings' latest loss.
When the Vikings got off to a 0-2 start, there wasn't reason for enormous panic. Teams had started seasons 0-2 and been successful – Dallas even won a Super Bowl after Emmitt Smith
sat out the first two games in a contract dispute. Even 0-3 teams have turned it around and made the playoffs, just under 3 percent of those doing it.
At 0-4, the Vikings are grabbing at straws with only one team in the modern era of the NFL to make the playoffs after starting 0-4. They are hoping to replicate the amazing resurgence of the 1992 San Diego Chargers, which bounced back from a dismal 0-4 start to finish the season 11-5 and win a wild card game before being eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Chargers of 1992 struggled badly on offense to start the season, scoring just 29 points in the first four games. The Chargers offense didn't catch fire, but their defense didn't allow more than 21 points in any game the rest of the way and allowed more than 16 points just twice. If the Vikings want any chance of reclaiming their 2011 season, it will have to come on the backs of the defense in similar fashion.
That could prove to be a problem. After hosting Arizona next week, the Vikings face a gauntlet of opponents that will test their defense. The Bears and Packers both remain on the schedule twice and the 4-0 Lions get the Vikings at home in December. If those aren't bad enough, for a team trying to reverse a downward spiral, they also have to deal with the resurgent passing attack in Carolina, the league's most dominant running game in Oakland, pass happy Denver and New Orleans and on the road in Atlanta, which had the best record in the NFC last year.
"You hope you have the right guys in the locker room – we've definitely had some bumps in the road – that we don't begin to splinter," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "We'll stay together and we'll keep working together and get this turned around this week at home."
While the 1992 Chargers made history with their epic comeback from their 0-4 start, the Vikings' road to the end of the 2011 season looks to have too many landmines still in front of them to view the postseason as a realistic goal moving forward.
Kansas City outgained the Vikings 350-341. The Chiefs had 247 yards passing, 103 rushing, while the Vikings had 190 yards passing and 151 yards rushing.
In the second half, the Chiefs outgained the Vikings 198-153, gaining 161 of those yards through the air. The Vikings had just 70 yards passing in the second half.
The Vikings again struggled on third down, converting just five of 14 opportunities. The Chiefs made good on six of 15 third-down chances.
The offenses had almost identical play distribution. The Vikings ran 62 plays (32 pass plays, 30 runs). Kansas City ran 60 plays (32 pass plays, 28 runs).
The Vikings allowed 71 yards in punt returns by Javier Arenas, who averaged almost 24 yards a return in three chances. In their first three games, the Vikings allowed just nine yards per return and none more than 20 yards.
The Vikings had six accepted penalties (and three more declined) Sunday. Entering play Sunday, the Vikings were second in the league for most penalties with 27, trailing only the Oakland Raiders (30).
The defenses were stingy in the red zone. The teams combined to get inside the opposing 20-yard line six times – three each. The Vikings got the only touchdown in all of those attempts.
The Vikings held the ball for 32:10 of the game, holding a modest time of possession edge in both halves.
Donovan McNabb had his most productive day as a Viking, throwing for 202 yards and the first two-touchdown game of his Vikings career. With his first TD pass on a bomb to Devin Aromashodu, he passed Steve Young into 21st place on the all-time touchdown passing list with his 233rd career TD strike.
Adrian Peterson got as bottled up as he has all season, being limited to 80 yards on 23 carries with a long run of just 14 yards and nine carries of two yards or less.
The big surprise on the ground was Percy Harvin, who ran four times for 67 yards – a personal best for rushing yards in a game. He also added five catches for 42 yards.
Just four games into the season, Harvin has already set the franchise record for rushing yards by a wide receiver with 141 yards, breaking his own record of 135 set in his rookie season of 2005. His 67 yards Sunday broke the 40-year of record of Bob Grim for rushing yards in a game by a receiver. Grim's franchise mark was 62 yards.
The tight ends were primary targets Sunday. After catching just four passes in the first the three games combined, Shiancoe was a key receiver in the game plan Sunday, catching six passes for 58 yards and being targeted several times in critical situations. Kyle Rudolph had the biggest play of the game, a 41-yard completion in the second quarter.
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser didn't catch a pass Sunday, but he played in his 100th consecutive game, behind only Steve Jordan (113 games) on the all-time franchise tight ends list.
Harvin passed Michael Jenkins as the team leader in receptions. Jenkins had just one catch Sunday, but it was a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Bernard Berrian caught one pass for 20 yards, more than doubling his season total, which now stands at two catches for 37 yards. However, his reception was huge, converting a fourth-and-14 with eight minutes to play that prolonged the Vikings' fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Ryan Longwell remained perfect on the season, hitting a field goal early in the second half. He has made 17 straight field goals dating back to last season.
The Vikings run defense did a decent job containing the running back-by-committee approach Kansas City used. Four different running backs combined for 24 carries for just 73 yards. The best rushing average on the team was a scrambling Matt Cassel, who rushed four times for 20 yards.
Jared Allen got two more sacks Sunday, giving him five in the last two weeks and 6.5 through four games.
Allen has at least one sack in each of his last six games, tying a personal best with the Vikings and two games short of the franchise record shared by Carl Eller and Jim Marshall.
The Vikings struggled with big plays from the Chiefs' wide receivers. Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston combined to catch nine passes for 198 yards, with Breaston pulling in passes of 41 and 28 yards and Bowe catching a 52-yard touchdown.
Husian Abdullah was the team's leading tackler with eight (seven solo). When a safety is your leading tackler, it usually doesn't bode well for the defense. The entire Vikings defensive line combined for nine tackles (eight solo).
With Sunday's loss, the Vikings have now been outscored 80-16 in the second half. They have outscored their opponents 61-16 in the first half.
The Vikings have lost their first four games by a total of 19 points, losing by seven, four, three and five points.
One of the biggest plays of the game came late on a punt. Dustin Colquitt was punting to the Vikings with a little more than four minutes to play from his own 24-yard line. The expectation was that the Vikings would get the ball at their own 40 or better. Instead, Colquitt bombed a 62-yard punt that skipped out of bounds, pinning the Vikings all the way back on the 15 to start their final drive.
Coming into the game, Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop was last in the league in scoring for kickers with just nine points. He scored 16 points Sunday.
It was once again a tale of two halves for the Vikings. In the first half, McNabb completed 9 of 12 passes for 125 yards with a TD and an interception. In the second half, he completed 9 of 18 passes for 77 yards and a TD. On the flip side, Matt Cassel completed eight of 15 passes for 99 yards in the first half, but rebounded in the second half – completing 10 of 14 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Adrian Peterson got the ball in the second half, but didn't do much with it. At halftime, he had 11 carries for 44 yards. In the second half, he had 12 carries, but gained just 36 yards.
The Vikings were successful on a challenge for the first time this year, getting a fumble ruling against Peterson overturned. The drive was kept alive by the challenge, but McNabb was intercepted four plays later in the red zone.
When Kansas City scored first, it was the first time the Vikings trailed in the first half of a game all season.
The sideline reporter was disgraced former University of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster. He has a long way to go to be effective as the on-field member of the broadcast team, but he couldn't be any worse at that than he was coaching the Gophers. Keep your day job, Brew.
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.