Notebook: Vikings explain sluggish start

The Vikings offense and defense both struggled for much of the first half Sunday before turning it around. So, what happened? The players and Leslie Frazier explain. Plus, the Vikings were feeling good to escape with a win after last season's debacles, the backs were back, and Letroy Guion talked about his penalty.

Neither the Minnesota Vikings offense nor their defense started strong in their 26-23 overtime win.

The offense picked up only one first down in its first three series and the defense started its duty by being on the field for 17-play, 77-yard Jacksonville Jaguars drive that took nine minutes, 22 seconds.

Defensively, players and coaches had a few theories on what went wrong as the Jaguars built a 9-0 lead in the second quarter.

"They were doing some things offensively that created a little bit of stress and we went back and talked about some things at halftime and settled down a little bit and played a lot better in the second half," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "There was just some things we needed to talk through and halftime allowed us to do that.

"They were doing some things personnel-wise that created some problems for us early on and we had to go back and just talk about how we wanted to handle those personnel groups and some of the things they were doing out of them. We went through that with our players and we did much better in the second half."

Jacksonville racked up 170 yards of offense in the first half with QB Blaine Gabbert hitting on 9 of 16 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. In the first half, the Vikings gave up two drives that went 17 and 11 plays. In the second half and overtime, only one drive went more than six plays for the Jaguars.

But defensive end Brian Robison said the early defensive problems could be placed upon the Vikings, not any trickery from Jacksonville.

"It wasn't anything they did. It was things we didn't do. The fact of the matter was we didn't tackle well. We've got to tackle better," he said. "Maurice Jones-Drew is a great running back. Obviously very hard to bring down. We've got to do a better job of tackling and just make sure that we shore up the mistakes that we had today."

Penalties hurt the Vikings as well. Jared Allen was offsides on the Jaguars' second play, negating his sack. Five plays later, Kevin Williams was offsides. Both of those penalties helped extend Jacksonville's initial 17-play drive.

"We've got to tackle. It always comes down to tackling and executing so we've got a lot of work to do," Allen said.

"We got lucky and we fought hard. That's good. There's a lot of positives to build on, but as far as techniques and execution, we've got to play a lot better."

Offensively, the Vikings struggled early, too.

Their first four drives went a combined 16 plays, all ending in punts. It wasn't until they got the ball back with 2:28 to play in the first half that things started to click in a hurry-up offense.

Christian Ponder hit Percy Harvin on three straight throws to open up the team's fourth series and it helped kick-start an offense that had produced only 58 yards to that point.

"There were some nerves like there would be for anyone," Ponder said. "Anytime you're playing in the first game of the year, there's going to be a little nerves. I just have to get settled in and get out there, forget it, and go play."

In their first four drives, the Vikings picked up two first downs. In their last drive of the first half, they picked up four first downs and more than doubled their previous offensive output, gaining 59 yards.

That sent them to halftime trailing only 9-7. By the time it was done, Ponder completed 20 of 27 passes for 270 yards and had a 105.5 passer rating.

A DIFFERENT FEELING

After the Vikings started last season with four straight losses – all four of them by seven points or fewer – an overtime win to open the season felt much better.

Owner Zygi Wilf emerged from the locker room after the game and wiped his forehead in relief before letting a big grin come over his face.

"You come in here after a game with a win, the atmosphere in the locker room doesn't get any better than that," tight end Kyle Rudolph said.

"It was electric. Guys were just so happy. Such an emotionally high win. Last year we had so many close loses and to be able to get over that hump, it was amazing."

RIGHT TO DOUBT

Neither the Vikings nor the Jaguars believed that the other team's main running back would be limited. Both teams were right.

Jones-Drew was much more than the third-down back Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said he would be, carrying 19 times for 77 yards.

"We knew as soon as he came back and they said, ‘Oh, we'll use him on third down.' We were like, yeah, right," Robison said.

Adrian Peterson started the game and carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in his first game action since his Dec. 24 knee injury.

"He is a freak of nature. He's not human. Basically, now anything he does now doesn't surprised me anymore," Robison said.

Said tight end Kyle Rudolph: "I can't believe he only had 17 (carries). You watch Adrian every day in practice. … He's the same Adrian that we've always been used to and he went out there and showed it today."

COSTLY MISTAKE

Defensive tackle Letroy Guion had a costly penalty in the fourth quarter that negated a second-down sack from Erin Henderson and gave the Jaguars a first down instead.

Henderson had tripped up QB Blaine Gabbert, who stumbled and fell after a few steps and Guion dove on top of Gabbert.

"Oh, man. I don't even know how to comment on it. Next time I guess I've just got to learn to touch him when he's down," Guion said. "And speed is different and there's emotion. I guess I've just got to touch him."

Guion said the whistle never blew before he jumped on top of Gabbert.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Neither the Minnesota Vikings offense nor their defense started strong in their 26-23 overtime win. The offense picked up only one first down in its first three series and the defense started its duty by being on the field for 17-play, 77-yard Jacksonville Jaguars drive that took nine minutes, 22 seconds. Defensively, players and coaches had a few theories on what went wrong as the Jaguars built a 9-0 lead in the second quarter. \"They were doing some things offensively that created a little bit of stress and we went back and talked about some things at halftime and settled down a little bit and played a lot better in the second half,\" Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. \"There was just some things we needed to talk through and halftime allowed us to do that. \"They were doing some things personnel-wise that created some problems for us early on and we had to go back and just talk about how we wanted to handle those personnel groups and some of the things they were doing out of them. We went through that with our players and we did much better in the second half.\" Jacksonville racked up 170 yards of offense in the first half with QB Blaine Gabbert hitting on 9 of 16 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. In the first half, the Vikings gave up two drives that went 17 and 11 plays. In the second half and overtime, only one drive went more than six plays for the Jaguars. But defensive end Brian Robison said the early defensive problems could be placed upon the Vikings, not any trickery from Jacksonville. \"It wasn't anything they did. It was things we didn't do. The fact of the matter was we didn't tackle well. We've got to tackle better,\" he said. \"Maurice Jones-Drew is a great running back. Obviously very hard to bring down. We've got to do a better job of tackling and just make sure that we shore up the mistakes that we had today.\" Penalties hurt the Vikings as well. Jared Allen was offsides on the Jaguars' second play, negating his sack. Five plays later, Kevin Williams was offsides. Both of those penalties helped extend Jacksonville's initial 17-play drive. \"We've got to tackle. It always comes down to tackling and executing so we've got a lot of work to do,\" Allen said. \"We got lucky and we fought hard. That's good. There's a lot of positives to build on, but as far as techniques and execution, we've got to play a lot better.\" Offensively, the Vikings struggled early, too. Their first four drives went a combined 16 plays, all ending in punts. It wasn't until they got the ball back with 2:28 to play in the first half that things started to click in a hurry-up offense. Christian Ponder hit Percy Harvin on three straight throws to open up the team's fourth series and it helped kick-start an offense that had produced only 58 yards to that point. \"There were some nerves like there would be for anyone,\" Ponder said. \"Anytime you're playing in the first game of the year, there's going to be a little nerves. I just have to get settled in and get out there, forget it, and go play.\" In their first four drives, the Vikings picked up two first downs. In their last drive of the first half, they picked up four first downs and more than doubled their previous offensive output, gaining 59 yards. That sent them to halftime trailing only 9-7. By the time it was done, Ponder completed 20 of 27 passes for 270 yards and had a 105.5 passer rating. After the Vikings started last season with four straight losses – all four of them by seven points or fewer – an overtime win to open the season felt much better. Owner Zygi Wilf emerged from the locker room after the game and wiped his forehead in relief before letting a big grin come over his face. \"You come in here after a game with a win, the atmosphere in the locker room doesn't get any better than that,\" tight end Kyle Rudolph said. \"It was electric. Guys were just so happy. Such an emotionally high win. Last year we had so many close loses and to be able to get over that hump, it was amazing.\" Neither the Vikings nor the Jaguars believed that the other team's main running back would be limited. Both teams were right. Jones-Drew was much more than the third-down back Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said he would be, carrying 19 times for 77 yards. \"We knew as soon as he came back and they said, ‘Oh, we'll use him on third down.' We were like, yeah, right,\" Robison said. Adrian Peterson started the game and carried the ball 17 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns in his first game action since his Dec. 24 knee injury. \"He is a freak of nature. He's not human. Basically, now anything he does now doesn't surprised me anymore,\" Robison said. Said tight end Kyle Rudolph: \"I can't believe he only had 17 (carries). You watch Adrian every day in practice. … He's the same Adrian that we've always been used to and he went out there and showed it today.\" Defensive tackle Letroy Guion had a costly penalty in the fourth quarter that negated a second-down sack from Erin Henderson and gave the Jaguars a first down instead. Henderson had tripped up QB Blaine Gabbert, who stumbled and fell after a few steps and Guion dove on top of Gabbert. \"Oh, man. I don't even know how to comment on it. Next time I guess I've just got to learn to touch him when he's down,\" Guion said. \"And speed is different and there's emotion. I guess I've just got to touch him.\" Guion said the whistle never blew before he jumped on top of Gabbert. 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