For the third time in four weeks, the Vikings had dozens of calamitous mistakes on their way to the second blowout in four games. We take out the emotion and put in the cold, hard facts in laying out more than a dozen areas where the Vikings were outplayed and outmanned by Atlanta.
The Vikings knew that to beat the Falcons, they would have to try to control the Atlanta running game – something few teams have been able to do the last two seasons.
With a depleted defensive line, the Falcons hammered the Vikings on the ground, finishing the game with 285 yards on 40 rushing attempts – a whopping 7.0 average. Before Michael Vick
left with an injury in the second quarter, he had broken off runs of 24 and 23 yards. Not to be outdone, backup Matt Schaub
engineered consecutive runs of 21 and 23 yards. For the game, the Atlanta QBs alone had eight rushes for 108 yards.
For the game, Atlanta had seven carries of 13 yards or more – rushes of 13, 17, 21, 23, 23, 24 and 37 yards. No team is going to win with numbers like that going against it.
Last year in 16 games, Daunte Culpepper was sacked 46 times – an average of less than three sacks a game. He was sacked nine times Sunday and, through four games, is on pace to get sacked 84 times – a number that will likely have him hobbled if it continues.
The Vikings haven't been shut out since Sept. 22, 1991 vs. the Saints, but for the second time in three games went into the fourth quarter with that streak in jeopardy. Against Cincinnati, the Vikings didn't score until there was a little over three minutes to play. Sunday, they didn't score until 8:13 remained.
The Vikings' woes on third down were epic. The Vikings finished the game just one of 10 on third down conversions – the only conversion coming with 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Falcons finished 8-of-14 on third down, including converting on five of six attempts in the first half.
The special teams – with the exception of the kickers – continued to struggle. Among the notable mistakes were an illegal formation for a punt (unforgivable in coaching parlance), a fumble by punt returner Koren Robinson and pair of hideous on-side kicks – one that didn't go 10 yards and another in which, even if the Vikes had recovered, would have come back because they were offside.
One bright spot again with Chris Kluwe, who averaged 46 yards on five punts and dropped one on the 1-yard line to set up the defense for a stop.
The Vikings had 11 penalties – six of which were called on offensive line gaffes.
The Falcons finished with 15 rushing first downs, as opposed to just four for the Vikings.
Troy Williamson's role expanded with the team this week. Not only did he catch the team's only TD, he was in on the first series of the game and remained in the lineup most of the day.
The Vikings didn't have a completed pass to a wide receiver until the 10:45 mark of the third quarter on a 6-yard catch by Williamson.
As has become habit, rookie guard Marcus Johnson was lifted in the second half for Adam Goldberg.
Injured E.J. Henderson, who was a game-time decision, started for the Vikings – finishing second on the team with five tackles and one assisted tackle.
The Falcons' first-half domination was complete – outgaining the Vikings 274-73 and holding a 205-23 edge in rushing yards.
The Falcons' quarterbacks had over 100 yards rushing midway through the third quarter.
Michael Vick's injury came on play in which he was knocked down by Erasmus James. James wasn't penalized on the play and it looked like a clean hit.
Center Melvin Fowler got his first look at center in the second quarter, but was replaced by starter Cory Withrow after the half.
After the first quarter alone, the Falcons had rushed 11 times for 87 yards – as opposed to four rushes for 10 yards by the Vikings.
The early domination was eerily reminiscent of the Vikings' other two losses. The Falcons held the ball for 10:21 of the first quarter, using eight plays on their first scoring drive and 14 plays on their second.
The Vikings finished the first quarter with minus-4 yards of total offense.
Things got started badly for the Vikings from the very first drive. The team committed three penalties – a chop block, a false start and an illegal formation – in the first five snaps.
On the Falcons' first drive of the game, Vick gave the team the lead for good, rushing twice for 47 yards and completing all three of his passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.