If there was a word to describe Thursday's 36-17 beat-down of the Vikings, it would be "humbled." Not only did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the upper hand on the Vikings on both sides of the ball, they did so decisively. The Vikings had their moments, but they were playing from behind the entire game and it came as a surprise for a team that was on a roll and seemed to have every advantage playing in their favor.
"I thought we prepared really well in the short week, but unfortunately there's really no answer for it," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "You never get too up or too down in this league, because you can be humbled at any point."
Greenway wasn't the only player to use the buzz word of the night. The Vikings defense allowed 10 points in each of the first three quarters and Tampa Bay piled up 416 yards of offense, which left the Vikings, in a word, humbled.
"This game will humble you," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "You have to stay humble and you can't take anything for granted – not saying we did. But those guys came in here, they were hot and we couldn't slow them down."
Complicating matters was that the Vikings offense started off slowly and the defense allowed scores on three of the first four drives to find themselves in a 13-0 hole early in the second quarter and could never fully come back to put themselves in position to get the lead back.
"When you're at home, you want to start fast on either side of the ball and we didn't do that," cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "You have to give Tampa credit. They came out, set the tone and played well. They outplayed us in every phase. It was a pretty good whoopin'.
So what is the answer? Safety Harrison Smith believes the Vikings have to get back the mindset that was implanted back in Mankato – play fundamentally sound football. That includes putting yourself in the position to make plays and eliminate mistakes and sloppy tackling.
"We just have to get back to the fundamentals and do our job," Smith said. "This isn't how we got to the point we were at and it will have to change. This wasn't the way we play. We don't miss tackles like that and give up big plays like that. Something's got to change and I think it's just about getting back to the fundamentals and doing what we did earlier in the year – played sound, fundamental defense."
The Vikings came into Thursday night's game with a chance to send a message to the rest of the NFL that they are a team that needs to be reckoned with. Instead, they did what they have done far too often under the bright lights of prime time – lay an egg. The offense wasn't happy. The defense wasn't happy. The special teams weren't happy. The blame was widespread and, if nothing else, the entire team was, in a word, humbled.
"They came in here and kicked our butts," defensive end Jared Allen said. "If we can't stop the run, we aren't going to have a chance to get to the quarterback like we want. They play-actioned, three-step dropped and threw fades, threw jump balls. We knew what they were going to do, but we just didn't stop it. We turned the ball over too many times. Top to bottom, I don't know if we overlooked them or not, but this was an embarrassing game for us. One thing I know for sure, we will come back and we will learn from this and we will be better for it. One thing about this game, it will humble you."
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.
Vikings post-loss refrain: ‘We were humbled'
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