The Vikings entered the game with several starters on the inactive list or injured reserve. That list grew, especially in the secondary, in the first half of the game. Plus, get more than two dozen notes that help tell the tale of the game.
Not only were the Vikings without key players Adrian Peterson
, Antoine Winfield
, Anthony Herrera
, Kyle Rudolph
and Husain Abdullah
, their already-thin secondary took a significant hit when cornerback Asher Allen
and safety Tyrell Johnson
were both sidelined. Allen left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and Johnson left early in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
, signed less than two weeks ago after Winfield's season-ending scapula injury, moved from a nickel back to being the Vikings' No. 2 cornerback, which also elevated Marcus Sherels
' snaps. Rookie Mistral Raymond
received his most significant playing time of the season in place of Johnson.
"It was tough, really tough. Ash has really become a guy we were counting on a great deal to match up with other people's top receiver and then to lose him as early as we did, it really puts you in a little bit of a bind," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "But I thought Marcus Sherels, I thought Benny, I though Mistral, those guys that played back there were effective at times, but it's not the ideal situation. It's not the way you draw it up."
In what proved to be a significant injury, long snapper Cullen Loeffler
got lit up on a punt return and suffered a back injury. He was replaced as the long snapper by Jared Allen
, who did a very good job snapping on punts and a pair of extra points and recorded his first special-teams tackle as a member of the Vikings.
"Jared, man, he was outstanding as a long snapper," Frazier said. "When you consider he was our emergency guy … to go out there and play under that pressure and to not have any mistakes, there wasn't much of a drop-off at all. Tremendous athlete. Just a great player. For him to step in and do what he did, hats off to Jared Allen."
Through five games of the season, the Vikings had six interceptions. Through 11 games now, the Vikings still have just six interceptions.
The Falcons outgained the Vikings 335-266. Atlanta had 246 yards passing and 89 yards rushing, while the Vikings had 162 yards passing and 64 yards rushing.
The 64 rushing yards for the Vikings were their second-lowest total of the season. The only game with fewer yards was their Sunday night game at Chicago.
The Falcons won the battle of third-down offense. Atlanta converted seven of 14 third downs (50 percent), while the Vikings converted just 31 percent (4 of 13).
The Falcons dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 34:39, as opposed to just 25:21 for the Vikings.
The Vikings played turnover-free football and the game's only turnover was on the Falcons punt coverage team, when a Chris Kluwe punt bounced backwards and hit Atlanta's Dominique Franks in the leg and was recovered by Vikings fullback Ryan D'Imperio.
In terms of passer rating, Christian Ponder had his best game as a pro, completing 17 of 25 passes for 186 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a rating of 103.1. His previous best was a passer rating of 102.7 at Carolina Oct. 23.
Ponder completed 68 percent of his passes, a single-game best for him.
Matt Ryan was even more impressive, posting a passer rating of 128.2 – completing 27 of 34 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Toby Gerhart didn't have a great outing as a starter, rushing 17 times for just 44 yards (a 2.6-yard average), but scored his first touchdown of the season and second of his career.
The touchdown by Gerhart was the first rushing TD by the Vikings that wasn't scored by Peterson since Week 12 of the 2010 season.
Falcons power back Michael Turner was held pretty much in check, rushing 19 times for 60 yards (a 3.2-yard average) with a long run of 10 yards.
Harvin dominated the receiving numbers, catching almost half of Ponder's completions. The other Vikings wide receivers combined for just three catches.
Tight end Allen Reisner, activated from the practice squad due to a quad injury to Rudolph, made his first career reception – a 5-yard catch.
Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez hogged much of the passing game for the Falcons. White caught 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown and Gonzalez caught nine passes for 69 yards. White was targeted 13 times, catching 10 of them, and Gonzalez caught all nine passes thrown his way.
Rookie sensation Julio Jones not only didn't have a reception, he wasn't targeted once by Ryan Sunday.
Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson continue to be the dominant forces on the Vikings defense. Greenway led all players with 16 tackles (seven solo), including a big hit on White that temporarily sent him to the sidelines after a crunching hit on his left shoulder. Henderson was second among all tacklers with 12 (nine solo).
Jared Allen didn't have a sack for the second straight game and remains a half-sack behind league-leader DeMarcus Ware of Dallas.
There may be some second-guessing as to why the Vikings didn't challenge the Harvin run late in the game near the goal line. It is unclear whether the referees blew the whistle to indicate the stop of forward progress, but replays clearly showed Harvin was never down and extended the ball over the goal line, which would have cut Atlanta's lead to 24-21 with 4:45 to play.
The Vikings have been burned badly in the third quarter, but outscored Atlanta 7-0 in the third quarter Sunday. However, the team has still been outscored 94-34 in the third quarter this season and 165-84 after halftime this season.
The Falcons completely dominated the first half, outgaining the Vikings 207-97 – a yardage disparity that was even more pronounced given that the Vikings gained 47 of those 97 yards in the final 37 seconds of the first half.
Atlanta had 15 first downs in the first half, but just seven in the second half.
The Vikings outgained the Falcons 129-128 in the second half.
In the first quarter, Gerhart had more total yards than the team total. He had 25 total yards (14 rushing, 11 receiving), while the team total was 21 yards thanks to negative passes and sacks.
In the first scoring drive of the game, Turner ran five times for 34 yards. In the rest of the game, he rushed 14 times for 26 yards.
Next week, Chris Kluwe will set the franchise record for most consecutive games played as a punter. He played in his 94th straight game Sunday, tying Greg Coleman for the franchise record.
The last time the Vikings started a season with a 2-9 record was in their inaugural expansion season in 1961.
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.