Scoring Failures Getting Troublesome

The Vikings have scored four touchdowns total in their first three games, but the last two touchdowns haven't come on offense. The head coach and players try to explain the offensive touchdown drought.

The Vikings' offense wasn't expected to produce the big numbers that it did when Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss were wearing Purple, but it certainly needs to run more efficiently than it has in the early going this season.

The Vikings will enter Sunday's game at Buffalo having failed to score an offensive touchdown in the past 10-plus quarters. The last time the unit reached the end zone was in the third quarter of an opening-week victory at Washington, when Brad Johnson found Marcus Robinson on a 20-yard pass.

Two games have passed since that time and the Vikings have scored two touchdowns, but in both cases they came from unexpected sources.

In a 16-13 overtime victory against Carolina in Week 2, kicker Ryan Longwell threw a scoring pass to tight end Richard Owens on a fake field goal. In last Sunday's 19-16 loss to Chicago, cornerback Antoine Winfield returned an interception for his team's lone touchdown.

"You've got to get in the end zone and we've been down there plenty of times," said coach Brad Childress, who has installed the West Coast system in Minnesota and puts himself in charge of calling the plays. "We need to work on that and we need to improve on that."

Vikings players have made it clear that Washington, Carolina and Chicago all have very good defenses — all three were in the top 10 in 2005 — but they know mistakes must be cleaned up.

"Obviously we have a lot of things to work on," center Matt Birk said. "We have high expectations for this offense and we need to look at it and (see) how we can get better."

One of the keys is avoiding penalties. The Vikings averaged nine penalties through two games and then took eight against Chicago, including four against the offense.

"The thing you can't do when you're playing against a good football team like the Bears, you can't have penalties and minus-yard plays," fullback Tony Richardson said. "If you could eliminate those things, that gives you an opportunity to score points when you need them."

NOTES

  • RT Marcus Johnson rebounded against the Bears after having a tough game a week earlier versus Carolina. The Panthers' Julius Peppers had three sacks and four quarterback hurries, mostly going against Johnson. But the Bears' Adewale Ogunleye, who had 10 sacks last season, was held without a sack or quarterback pressure.

  • DE Kenechi Udeze shifted from left to right end against the Bears, replacing the injured Erasmus James. James has been lost for the season because of a knee injury. Darrion Scott got the start at left end. Rookie Ray Edwards also saw plenty of action.

  • WR Maurice Mann and rookie free agent defensive end Jayme Mitchell both made their NFL debuts on Sunday. Mann is in his second season but had never played in a game.


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