The Minnesota Vikings proved once again that they are not a team that is well-equipped to come back from behind. They are built on establishing the run with Adrian Peterson, controlling the clock and then relying on solid special teams and defense.
But eight carries for 18 yards was too little was Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, and he voiced his concerns after a 38-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
“I felt like we were out of sync. Definitely give credit to Seattle; they did a good job of coming in and forcing us to do things differently. They were just the better team,” Peterson said. “They were more aggressive, more physical, and they outcoached us as well.”
Asked how the Vikings were outcoached, Peterson didn’t back down, but also decided to put the onus on the players.
“In so many different areas,” he said when asked about being outcoached. “And outplayed in so many different areas for us players as well.”
The Seahawks knew the Vikings weren’t a great passing team and decided they were going to key in on Peterson early and often and force second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to beat them.
The Vikings defense did their part on the Seahawks opening drive when Antone Exum Jr. forced a fumble and recovered it, stopping the Seahawks drive and giving the offense the ball. The Vikings offense, however, could not do its job as Peterson ran the ball twice for 7 yards and then Bridgewater took a 3-yard sack, forcing a punt.
Things didn’t get better for the Vikings offense as they only had two drives in the first quarter, both ending in a punt. They got down 14-0 with 2:04 to play in the first half and if they could get a score on that drive they would be back in the game, especially since they got the ball at halftime. Instead, Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception, which led to a touchdown, and the Vikings were down 21-0 going into halftime.
Peterson finished the first half with five carries for 10 yards, and finished the game with eight carries for 18 yards. With the way the offense is run, that is not going to win the Vikings any games and they know it.
“I felt like, as one of the leaders on the team, and seeing how the running game has been all season, you definitely want to be able to go out and establish the run and then let things feed off of that,” Peterson said. “I finished with eight carries and it’s tough. I feel like we need to sit back and evaluate some things again and get back to where we need to be.”
The real problem is that once the Vikings fell behind by so much they had to rely on Bridgewater and the passing game to get them back in the game. They had to almost completely abandon the run.
The Vikings’ run-first had to make a total change in philosophy. By not being able to get the offense going early, it put added pressure on Bridgewater, the offensive line in pass protection and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“We’re a run-first team. We have 28 in the backfield, the best player in the NFL,” said offensive guard Brandon Fusco. “It’s hard when you’re down so much just to pound the rock and do what we do best. When we’re one-dimensional like that, it’s tough for our coordinator to make us go as an offense.”
The Packers and now the Seahawks have seemed to come up with the formula to stop the Vikings. Bottle up Peterson early and then control the clock with the running game. That makes the team one-dimensional and forced Bridgewater to beat teams with his arm, which he has not proven he can do on a consistent basis.
The Vikings have a short week this week as they head out to play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday. The Cardinals are likely going to be watching tape from this game on how to slow down the Vikings offense, and if the Vikings don’t change up something in the next four days it could be another long game for them.
“It is what it is. I’m not going to dwell on it because we have a long season ahead of us,” Peterson said. “So we’ll come back, get our minds right. Like I said, it’s a short week. We have Arizona to think about. They are just as equal of an opponent as Seattle.”