Offensive Players Feeling the Frustration

While Vikings defenders are concentrating on righting what little is wrong with the defense, the offensive players on the Vikings are talking about the frustration they are feeling with not putting up enough points.

The Vikings will enter their final game before the bye week looking to get a sickly offense on track.

Scheduled to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday at the Metrodome, the Vikings' offensive ineptitude continued in a 17-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Brad Johnson's 29-yard scoring pass to Marcus Robinson in the fourth quarter ended a stretch of 12-plus quarters without a touchdown for Minnesota.

"We stunk up the field as an offense," Robinson said after the loss. "(The) defense, we (kept) them out there too long, there were too many three-and-outs. We didn't come together as a group and that's something that you've got to have. Playing week-in and week-out, you have got to have sustained drives, get three points, seven points. That's something we're not doing right now as an offense."

Among the Vikings' issues are turnovers (Johnson threw two second-half interceptions), negative-yardage plays (running back Chester Taylor was thrown for a loss three times in the first half) and penalties. The Vikings were assessed 12 for 78 yards Sunday, including a questionable pass interference call on receiver Travis Taylor that nullified an opening-drive catch and moved the Vikings from the Buffalo 18-yard line back to the 28.

"It's frustrating," Johnson said. "We came out early in the game and had a great drive and overcame a couple of penalties. I felt we were off to a good start. And, once again, more than anything, what cost us was first down. I felt like we were playing Canadian football there for a while with two downs. The first down, we'd either have a penalty or a negative play and then when it's second or third and long, it's hard to recover from that. We have got to be more efficient in the passing game, more efficient in the running game and more than anything, stay away from penalties and negative plays."

While the offense struggles, the defense continues to put up solid performances. The unit has not given up more than 19 points in a game this season. Sunday, they held Buffalo running back Willis McGahee to 78 yards rushing on 28 carries.

Although there would seem to be a natural temptation for the defensive players to grouse about the ineptitude of the offense, that is not the case.

"We have enough issues ourselves," first-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said. "We have to control what we can control. Anything else is a waste of time in terms of our energy and our effort. We have to be the very best defense that we can be, and hopefully, that will be enough to help us win."

Tomlin's players obviously have gotten his message. Middle linebacker Napoleon Harris and cornerback Antoine Winfield both talked about the fact the defense could have done more in the loss at Buffalo.

"There isn't any level of frustration," Harris said. "This is a team game and we need to pick ourselves up on defense. That's what needs to be done. I think we have the veterans on this team that we're more than capable of getting it done. That's what we're going to focus on. We definitely feel like defensively, if we had made the plays we needed to, the outcome of the game would have been different."


  • S Darren Sharper suffered a bruised left quadriceps during Sunday's loss in Buffalo and was walking very gingerly after the game. Sharper was replaced by rookie Greg Blue.

  • Rookie cornerback Cedric Griffin is now rotating every other series with veteran Ronyell Whitaker in the nickel package. Whitaker had been the primary nickel back in the first three games.

  • Receiver Troy Williamson was the deep man on kickoff returns at Buffalo after being in that role only twice a week earlier against Chicago. He was replaced by Artose Pinner on four returns versus the Bears because the Vikings did not want to risk having Williamson aggravate a shoulder injury.

  • Jermaine Wiggins, the Vikings' top pass-catching tight end, had six receptions for 59 yards against the Bills after catching only three passes in the previous two games. "I know that my opportunity is going to (come), and when my number is called, I have to go out there and do what I have to do. That's make a play," Wiggins said. "I'm very confident and whatever they ask me to do — whether it's run blocking, pass blocking or running routes — I have to do." Wiggins now has 14 receptions for 121 yards.

  • Safety Rashad Baker and linebacker Marquis Cooper made their Vikings' debuts against the Bills.

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