Mistakes Cost Vikes Early Blowout

Despite playing a relatively good game under the circumstances and getting a win, the even better news is this: The Vikings' win could have been a blowout if they could have avoided some costly mistakes.

The Vikings' 28-21 win over the Saints really wasn't that close and could have been considerably more lopsided had a couple of big plays not come back to sting the Vikings. A seven-point win could have just as easily been a 21-point blowout or more.

On the Saints' third drive, a Jeff Blake fumble was surrounded by four Vikings, but somehow offensive lineman Wally Williams recovered to keep the Vikings from recovering in the red zone. At the same time, an uncharacteristic drop by Randy Moss on a perfect touchdown strike from Daunte Culpepper could have easily given the Vikings a 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter, but he failed to hold on and the Vikings didn't come away with points to keep the score 14-7.

In the closing seconds of the first half, Deuce McAllister fumbled a punt in the end zone that was recovered by Lemanski Hall for an apparent touchdown, but it was negated by an unrelated illegal formation call on the Vikings, which could have swelled the score to 35-7 at halftime, instead of the 21-7 lead the Vikings took to the locker room.

Throw in a surprising missed field goal by Gary Anderson and an interception by Jim Nelson that was negated by a late hit by Winfield Garnett and it is conceivable the Vikings could have scored 52 points instead of 28 points. While the team will take the win, the Saints dodged a lot of bullets and the Vikings could have laid the smack down even more than they did Saturday.

* The win Saturday vs. the Saints was the first preseason opener in the last three years that the Vikings have won. Last year, the Vikings lost their preseason opener to the Saints by a 25-24 score.
* In 10 preseason openers, Dennis Green has a record of 7-3.
* The Vikings have struggled in the preseason in recent years -- going 1-3 in 2000 and 2-2 in 1999, so getting off on a winning foot is a nice beginning to the 2001 season for the Vikings, who will play their next three preseason games against AFC opponents (Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Miami).

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