The Vikings have been searching for reasons why they are 2-7. The offense hasn't been overly effective, but has turned it over just eight times in nine games. They have been far from great, but they haven't given the ball away.
So where is the problem? The easiest way to explain it is to use an Alfred Hitchcock film device of showing the audience the bomb at the beginning of the scene and building the suspense from there.
What follows are the 27 drives the Vikings' opponents began in the third quarter this season. This is the starting point to build from. Blowing leads early was one thing, but this has become a trend.
8-32-turned over on downs
Our forensic stat analysts – a lab-coat bedecked collection of shut-ins – broke it down in frightening terms. Of the 27 drives, 19 of them (70 percent) ended up in points. The other eight drives ended with four punts, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one turnover on downs (thank you, Beanie Wells).
At first, the Vikings players shook their heads. Blowing three double-digit first-half leads was viewed as squandering potentially easy wins. But without much success in the third quarter, one word becomes the buzzword – adjustments.
Halftime is not only a chance for players to catch their breath and fans to get a beer and hot dog, it's a chance for the coaches to huddle up and make adjustments to their game plan. What worked? What didn't? What needs to change? Clearly, whatever other coaches are doing is working and what the Vikings are doing is not.
It would stand to reason at some level that if the Vikings struggle so badly in the third quarter of games, they would struggle in the first quarter as well – when initial adjustments are made. Not so fast, my friend.
To date, opponents have had 25 drives that started in the first quarter of the Vikings' nine games. Of those 25 drives, only six have resulted in touchdowns (24 percent). Fourteen of the 25 (56 percent) have ended with punts, two have ended with field goals and three have resulted in Vikings turnovers (two fumble recoveries, one interception).
While the defense carries much of the burden for the Vikings' woes in the third quarter, much of the onus has to fall on halftime adjustments. Minnesota's opponents clearly have made changes at halftime and those changes are successful.
There are a lot of contributing factors as to why the Vikings are 2-7. None of them, however, may be as telling as how the defense has responded (or not responded) after halftime. They've blown leads. They've seen deficits become bigger. They seen winnable games become losses.
When teams struggle, they search for reasons. One of the primary culprits has been the lack of defensive success in the third quarter.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings defense struggling in third quarters
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