A Simple Cure

The Vikings' losing ways can end if they can reverse a trend of turning the ball over. The numbers are pretty daunting to this point, but there weren't a lot of sure-fire answers on how to turn that around.

If the Vikings are to rebound from an 0-2 start, they will have to begin taking care of the football, starting with Sunday's game against New Orleans at the Metrodome.

In losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-13 and Cincinnati Bengals 37-8, the Vikings turned over the ball 12 times. Ten of those have been by quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who tossed a career-high five interceptions in last Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Bengals. He has thrown eight picks this season, a number he didn't reach until the 12th game of 2004.

The other two turnovers Sunday came when Michael Bennett fumbled in the first quarter on a rushing play and then coughed up the ball after catching a pass in the second quarter. That led to Bennett spending the rest of the game on the bench.

"The easiest fix is to eliminate the turnovers," coach Mike Tice said. "If we can get the turnovers settled down, everything else will start to fall into place."

That had better happen fast.

The Vikings have had 24 offensive possessions in 2005 and 12 have ended with turnovers. The team's minus-9 turnover margin ranks as the worst in the NFL. Houston and Seattle share the next worst at minus-6.

Tice pointed out turnovers have not been a major problem for his teams in recent seasons. Last year, the Vikings had a plus-1 differntial, eighth in the NFC and 18th in the NFL. In 2003, they were plus-11, second in the conference and fifth in the NFL.

"We just need to stay within ourselves," Tice said when asked how he planned to address the issue in practice this week. "Everybody just stay within themselves and not try to press to make plays. That's the biggest message. The plays are good.

"They are the same plays we've been running here since 1992 when we put the offense in with Jack Burns (as offensive coordinator), Denny Green (as head coach) and Brian Billick (as tight ends coach). ... The same plays. We just need to get back to executing and play within ourselves and not try too hard to make plays. The plays will come."

Culpepper also is attempting to stay upbeat despite a terrible start.

"We've got to get into our rhythm," he said. "It's tough when things happen and you turn the ball over in a game and you're trying to battle through that. We've just got to stay positive as a team. People have been looking for reasons to doubt us anyway. That's the thing that we can't be concerned about. We've got to be concerned with the 53 guys and the coaching staff, us sticking together and fixing this and making it happen."

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