Notebook: Vikings’ three-phase breakdown

After a strong opener, the Vikings failed on in all three phases with the stats to prove it in a 30-7 loss to the Patriots.

The hoopla surrounding the Vikings home opener Sunday against the New England Patriots took a downward turn Friday when the news surrounding Adrian Peterson’s indictment came out. But when the Vikings opened the game with a drive that gashed the Patriots, few could have imagined the Vikings would get crushed 30-7.

Just as the Week 1 win at St. Louis featured strong performances from the offense, defense and special teams, just the opposite was true. If there was any finger pointing to do, all three phases would share culpability.

Quarterback Matt Cassel threw four interceptions. The special teams allowed a touchdown. Cassel was sacked six times. The defense allowed 150 rushing yards, while the offense managed just 54 yards. There was plenty of blame to go around for everyone.

“Across the board, it wasn’t a good day for us,” DE Brian Robison said of the defensive struggles. “We gave them way too many yards on first down. We allowed them to have 5 or 6 yards a pop too often on first down. That put them ahead of the chains. We didn’t get any turnovers and gave up four. When you have turnover differential like that, you don’t win very often.”

By comparison, the offense played worse than the lackluster defense. The Vikings managed just 217 total yards and, what made it frustrating was that the Patriots weren’t showing the Vikings anything they hadn’t prepared for, but gave them plenty of things that they will have to clean up before next Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

What made the ineffectiveness of the offense more baffling was that with or without Peterson, the Vikings were convinced they had the formula to knock off the Patriots.

“I felt like we had a good week of practice and were focused where we needed to be,” offensive tackle Phil Loadholt said. “You lose games in this league and when you do, you have to find ways to fix them the next week.”< br>
Coming into the game with high expectations, the dismal outcome Sunday wasn’t what the Vikings anticipated, but several players made the point that Sunday was one game in a 16-game regular season and, while you don’t get too high over a win, you can’t get consumed by a loss.

“You win and lose as a team,” Harrison Smith said. “Last week, we were hitting on all three phases. This week, we give up an interception that goes to the 1-yard line and we give up a touchdown on special teams. This was the kind of game that we needed our defense to create some turnovers and turn this thing around. You win as a team and you lose as a team. In the end, it’s just one game, but it was a game that we’ll learn from because we have to do more in all phases. We have the team that can do it. It’s just a matter of improving. You do that as a team and as individual players. We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror and do what we need to do to get rid of this feeling.”


  • Since 2000, New England has a record 38-1 when it has a 100-yard rusher. Stevan Ridley ran 25 times for 101 yards Sunday.

  • In the fourth quarter, Greg Jennings caught his 500th career pass.

  • A focus coming into the game was shutting down Rob Gronkowski. The Vikings did a good job of that. Gronk didn’t catch a pass until the second half and finished with just four catches for 32 yards.

  • Patriots coach Bill Belichick recorded his 200th regular season win Sunday.

  • Of the 17 first downs on offense for the Vikings, five of them were the result of New England penalties.

  • The Vikings defense again came up with decent third-down numbers, allowing New England to convert just 5 of 14 third-down opportunities.

  • Blair Walsh only kicked off twice and both of them were touchbacks. Through two games, he has kicked off nine times and eight of those have been touchbacks.

  • The Patriots committed a whopping 15 penalties that cost them 163 yards. The Vikings had seven penalties.

  • The Vikings had the ball for just 11:42 of the second half.

  • The Vikings had 75 yards of offense on seven plays in their first drive. In the 54 plays that followed, they had just 142 yards.

  • The last time Vikings had a field goal blocked was in November 2012 against Chicago.

  • The last time the Vikings had a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown was in September 2009 against San Francisco – a game remembered for Brett Favre’s last-second comeback win.

  • Devin McCourty had more interception return yardage (60) than the Vikings had rushing yards (54).

  • After rushing for more than 100 yards in Week 1, the Vikings didn’t run Cordarrelle Patterson at all Sunday.

  • Jasper Brinkley led the Vikings with 11 tackles. Harrison Smith and Chad Greenway each had eight tackles.

  • If Chandler Jones didn’t get a game ball, something is wrong. He had eight tackles, two sacks, a blocked field goal and scored a touchdown.

  • The boo birds started coming out early in the second quarter as Cassel threw his second interception of the game and never let up. Throughout the second half, there were chants of “Teddy! Teddy!” from the fans at TCF Bank Stadium.

  • The lone highlight of the game for the Vikings was the first drive. The Vikings had a series of wide open passes that included a 17-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph, a 24-yard catch-and-run by Rhett Ellison and a short dump-off to Asiata that broke for a 25-yard touchdown, as the Vikings drove 80 yards on seven plays on the game’s opening drive.

  • The paid attendance was 52,350.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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