As Bad As It Gets

After another humbling loss, the Vikings head into their bye week with a 1-3 record and looking for answers to questions they may not be able to fully understand.

The Vikings headed into their game with the Falcons Sunday knowing Atlanta planned to run early and often. The Falcons have the top rushing game in the league, but a passing game that is pedestrian at best.

So, on a day when the Falcons passed for less than 100 yards, they racked up nearly 300 yards of rushing offense -- 114 yards from quarterbacks alone -- and handed the Vikings another humiliating loss.

Head coach Mike Tice became the umpteenth person in the organization to fall on his sword and accept responsibility, saying when his team plays like it has, it falls on him as the head coach. He's right. Whether the bye week can change that or not is uncertain. What is certain is that, unlike their blowout loss to the Bengals, the Vikings knew the Falcons were going to be one dimensional on offense, yet seemed unable to do anything to stop it.

If there is a culpability to be had, the blame can be shared. Daunte Culpepper has been awful and playing like a confused rookie who makes poor decisions, the offensive line is horrible and the team has made substitutions during the game like it is still the preseason and, despite injuries, the Vikings defense has the same familiar stink of Vikes defenses of the recent past.

A lot of people have taken the blame for the Vikings' ugly performances this year and rightfully so -- there's plenty of blame to go around.

* From the Sunshine on a Rainy Day Department comes this: with all their woes, the Vikings are just a half-game out of first in the woeful NFC North and still control their own destiny since they haven't played a divisional game yet. The Lions took over first place in Week 3 by virtue of not playing. The Bears moved into a first-place tie thanks to having their bye week last weekend. There's a chance the Vikes can do the same next week.
* The record of the teams that have beaten the Vikings this year is a combined 11-1, which could be seen as another rare positive to explain the Vikings' hideous start to the 2005 season.
* The Vikings locker room remained closed for 15 minutes following the game Sunday.
* The Vikings offense has scored just two touchdowns in the three losses this year, both of which came in the final three minutes of the game in a no-huddle offense playing against a prevent defense.
* The Vikings allowed nine sacks Sunday, just two off a team record set in the heinous 1984 season when the Bears applied a world-class beatdown on Archie Manning for 11 sacks.
* Former Viking great Fran Tarkenton was a guest of owner Zygi Wilf at Sunday's game.

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