Bouman Injury Derails Offense

Todd Bouman was expecting to start Sunday's game against Jacksonville and did. But when he left after three incompletions and two injuries, it changed the complexion and philosophy of the offense.

The Vikings had been making the best of a bad situation without Daunte Culpepper. Although he was part of the team that gave Detroit its first win of the season, Todd Bouman seemed to have command of the offense and was once again making Randy Moss a dangerous and potent wide receiver.

That was a big component of the Vikings' game plan for Sunday — stacking Moss against an injury-depleted defense of the Jaguars.

That plan changed two plays into the game for the Vikings offense. Bouman came out passing, as expected, but his second pass fell incomplete when his throwing hand and injured thumb were hit by Jaguars defensive end Tony Brackens. The pain was obvious and, on the next play, he overthrew Moss badly — having injury added to insult by getting hit in the sternum by the helmet of defensive tackle Gary Walker.

Bouman went down, and just 18 seconds of game clock after starting the game he was on the sidelines, turning the game over to Spergon Wynn.

"The thumb felt all right," Bouman said of his approach entering the game. "For the most part, I was just going to go out and play. But after I hit it on the second play, and when I tried to hit Randy (Moss) and I got hit, the ball just took off on me and I couldn't grip it."

While Wynn had taken many of the snaps in practice during the week, he wasn't expected to play, and, when he did come in, he faced a 10-point deficit.

The Vikings got conservative with Wynn and the team went three-and-out on the first drive. By the time the team finally let him pass, the Vikings were behind 13-0 and fading fast. The team became one-dimensional — finishing with a season-low 24 yards rushing and never mustering an offense that could crack the end zone.

Wynn did what he could, but his lack of familiarity with the offense showed itself. Whereas Bouman continued the Vikings' philosophy of throwing the ball deep downfield, Wynn never tried to throw a bomb for Randy Moss and most of his completions were on passes of 10 yards or less. The struggles were seen early and late.

How can you pinpoint one problem area in a 30-point rout? Easy. Pick the one that came first and see if it caused any of the others. It was all the result of the shuffling that was required after Bouman went out. One key hit on one key play early on not only changed the immediate fortunes of the Vikings but changed the face of the remainder of the game — creating the turning point of the game. VU

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