When we first joined the Vikings for their 2005 regular season, they were 3-21 in their last 24 outdoor road games. Surely, with an upgraded roster of veterans, that record would improve, right?
Not so far. The Vikings have lost both of the their outdoor road games this season, an absolute 37-8 blowout in Cincinnati in Week 2 and a 28-3 loss to Chicago two weeks ago that slowly seeped away.
Minnesota hasn't had an all-around half of football like they did Sunday against Green Bay, when they outscored the Packers 23-3 in the second half and won a game that they all hope gives them momentum for the rest of the season.
"There should be (carryover). You get a win at a time when you were struggling. That should be enough to help carry it over to Carolina," linebacker Keith Newman said. "It's going to be another tough game this week."
The fact that the Vikings are on the road and Carolina plays outdoors should be a scary proposition.
"Defensively, I think we have to get off to a better start than we have been (on the road)," Newman said. "I know when we went to Cincinnati we gave up a touchdown on the opening drive, Atlanta a touchdown on the opening drive. We played pretty good in Chicago, but we didn't make some stops when we needed to. … Defensively, we have to go out there early in the game. Offensively, it will turn around – they scored 23 points in the second half. Defensively, we have to set the tempo because I think we've been on the field first on the road all three times and we haven't started out very well."
Safety Darren Sharper said that turning the football over on the road has hurt the Vikings.
"Once you go out there and bad things start to happen, a lot of guys start feeling sorry for themselves. It goes in a downward spiral," Sharper said. "I think we have to have the mental capacity to be tough-minded and not let those things bother us too much, kind of similar to what we did being down 17-0 and coming back (against the Packers)."
The Vikings have been turning over the ball too much this season, especially with interceptions on the road. Nine of Daunte Culpepper's 12 interceptions have been on the road. His other three? In the season opener against a relentless Tampa Bay defense.
That means in his last two home games Culpepper has gone without an interception, but two of his worst three passer ratings this season have been the outdoor games at Cincinnati (36.4) and Chicago (50.4).
"It is so hard to get a lead on the road or a lead through a large portion of a game unless the turnovers go in your direction early in the game and you get some good field position," head coach Mike Tice said. "I think that will help. I think the other thing that will help is if we can win the battle of special teams on the road. If we can start faster and maintain that good body language, that will help too."
In three road games, the Vikings have scored only 21 points combined. In three home games, they have scored 69 points. Their 23-point effort in the second half against Green Bay is their rallying cry, their hope in trying to turn things around on the road.
"If we can go to Carolina and knock these guys off, it should really be a boost to us and hopefully get us kick-started for the second half of the season," Sharper said.
The win over Green Bay also helped lift a very negative vibe in the locker room the last two weeks as players have dealt with daily questioning about the "Love Boat" allegations.
"It's been just a roller coaster of emotions, everyone kicking you down when you're losing. Everything that happened off the field, it seems – it doesn't seem it was – everyone was against you," Sharper said. "We had a black flag circling in this locker room. It seemed that every day we came up here we had a cloud. … If we continue to play with the emotion we showed in the second half and that energy and continue to win, hopefully some of these things, these bad issues or this turmoil that we're going through – it won't be forgotten, but hopefully we can quell some of the bad thoughts of the organization and this team."
Said wide receiver Nate Burleson: "Things always feel better when you get a victory. It means a lot for the moral in the locker room.
"I don't see a cloud. The sun always comes out after a storm, and I think the sun is out right now. If there's a cloud out there, it's probably people hanging it over our heads."
BIG MAN IN LOCKER ROOM
Recently acquired guard Toniu Fonoti isn't hard to spot in the Vikings locker room. His massive body and long braided hair help set him apart.
He said his hand is still fractured, meaning it will probably be a couple of weeks before he is available to play for the Vikings. That was the issue in San Diego, where they were getting thin on the offensive line and needed someone who could step in immediately, Fonoti said.
"They wanted me to play right away, but I couldn't do it. That's probably the issue right there was my hand. They needed somebody to fill in and they were down on guys, especially this past Sunday," he said.
That may have shown with the Philadelphia Eagles being able to hold superstar running back LaDainian Tomlinson to 7 yards rushing on 17 carries.
"You have to give Philadelphia some of the credit. They've got a good defense too," Fonoti said.
Fonoti is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, but he reportedly weighed in with the Vikings over 400 pounds. He said that report is not accurate, but when asked what he did weigh, he would only say "enough."
What's The Carryover?
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