Grading The Game: Falcons

Another loss being termed embarrassing puts some bad grades in the folders of Mike Tice's students, and the teacher himself isn't faring that well these days either.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — Quarterback Daunte Culpepper had his third sub-par performance in four games this season, throwing two interceptions and registering a 74.4 quarterback rating. Culpepper, who has thrown 10 interceptions and been sacked 20 times this season, had a 40.4 rating at halftime. He threw for 151 of his 250 yards and also added a meaningless touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — A week after getting their first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, the Vikings were held to 63 yards as a team. Moore had 57 of those yards as the offensive line failed to open up many holes. Moore's longest run went for 19 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: C — The Falcons quarterback tandem of Michael Vick and Matt Schaub combined for only 88 passing yards, but that was more a result of the Vikings' defense being completely inept against the run than anything else. Simply put, the Falcons never needed to establish the pass.

RUSH DEFENSE: F — Yes, the Vikings were missing starting left end Kenechi Udeze, pass-rush specialist Lance Johnstone and free safety Darren Sharper, but that doesn't make giving up 285 rushing yards excusable. This was an embarrassment. It appeared early as if the Vikings hadn't even considered that outside containment on Michael Vick might be a good idea. Vick ran for 58 yards on four carries before leaving in the second quarter because of a knee injury. His replacement, Matt Schaub, a guy lacking Vick-like quickness, ran four times for 56 yards. This included back-to-back scrambles of 21 and 23 yards to set up a field goal late in the second quarter that gave the Falcons a 24-0 lead at halftime.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Punter Chris Kluwe continues to be a great find, averaging 46 yards (43.2 net) on five punts. Kicker Paul Edinger made his only field-goal attempt, a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter. Koren Robinson averaged 23.8 yards on four kickoff returns and looks relatively comfortable in that role. Robinson's punt return abilities are another matter. Used in that role for the first time, he muffed one punt and didn't pick up a yard on two other returns.

COACHING: F — Coach Mike Tice was without some key regulars because of injuries, but that didn't excuse an approach to a game that was treated almost like a preseason contest. The defense appeared completely unprepared to stop the Falcons' run, a unit that is the top-ranked in the NFL, and the offense struggled for the third time in four games. Daunte Culpepper, an MVP candidate in 2004, is running an offense that has zero identity at this point. Little things, like using an unprepared Koren Robinson on punt returns and deactivating regular return man Keenan Howry left press box observers scratching their heads.

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