Vikings Finding Ways To Lose

Despite a rush defense that was the best the league has seen in four decades, the Vikings still couldn't win, thanks to three fourth-quarter turnovers that evaporated their lead.

Thanks to an offense that seems to find a new way to self-destruct each week, the Vikings' postseason hopes appear to be just about dead.

The latest meltdown came in a 24-20 loss to the host Miami Dolphins on Sunday when the Vikings blew a three-point lead in the fourth quarter by turning over the ball three times. The Miami defense scored 14 points directly off these turnovers.

Running back Chester Taylor, who had been charged with only two fumbles entering the game and had only one come in 193 rushing attempts, had turnovers on back-to-back series.

The first short-circuited a Vikings' drive that came with Minnesota leading 13-10 and holding the ball at the Dolphins 33. The second, though, was far more crucial as Miami strong safety Yeremiah Bell returned the ball 48 yards for a touchdown and a 17-13 Miami lead.

The Dolphins defense added to that cushion when defensive end Jason Taylor intercepted Brad Johnson's pass on first down at the Miami 47 and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

The loss was the Vikings' fourth in a row and third consecutive against a team that entered the game with a sub-.500 record. Minnesota will end what should have been a relatively easy four-game stretch (at San Francisco, vs. Green Bay, at Miami) on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals and former Minnesota coach Dennis Green.

"My expectation is that these guys battle on," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "That's what they get paid to do. This week is no different than any other week. (It's the) Arizona Cardinals and my expectation is that we come up with a good game plan and go out and execute."

If the Cardinals are smart, their game plan won't include trying to run against this Minnesota defense. One of the few bright spots in recent weeks, the Vikings' run defense remains ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL after giving up minus-3 yards on 14 carries against the Dolphins.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, that is the lowest rushing total for any team in an NFL game since the visiting Philadelphia Eagles accounted for minus-12 yards against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 29, 1961.

"It really don't matter who we play," said nose tackle Pat Williams, who along with defensive tackle Kevin Williams are the keys to the Vikings' success against the run. "I keep telling you all the same thing. It's going to be the same result every week. Everybody changes their game plan. They can't run on us and they already know that."

The Dolphins, like the New England Patriots and Packers before them, attempted to spread the Vikings' pass defense out and win the game by going to the air. Minnesota has proven vulnerable to this, although not surprisingly Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington did not have the same type of success (26 of 42 for 254 yards) as Tom Brady (29 of 43 for 372 yards) and Brett Favre (24 of 42 for 347 yards).

The Cardinals and rookie quarterback Matt Leinart also are likely to go this route, although it's clear the Vikings have started to make adjustments. One came in the second half against the Dolphins when defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin had his cornerbacks play more man coverage and get physical with the receivers.


  • Rookie CB Cedric Griffin suffered a stinger in the first half against the Dolphins and was limited thereafter. Griffin was due to be examined Monday.

  • Rookie CB Charles Gordon replaced Cedric Griffin in the nickel package in the second half. Ronyell Whitaker had played some in the nickel with Griffin hurting in the first half but it appears Gordon has now moved ahead of Whitaker on the depth chart.

  • RG Artis Hicks suffered a left ankle sprain and was to be evaluated. He left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Jason Whittle replaced him.

  • RT Marcus Johnson also sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and was replaced by veteran Mike Rosenthal.

  • MLB Napoleon Harris (dislocated wrist) and WR Marcus Robinson (lower back) both returned Sunday after missing time. Harris had sat out two games and Robinson three.

  • CB Fred Smoot, who missed the Vikings' game against Green Bay on Nov. 12 because of a family tragedy, started versus Miami. Smoot also had been slowed by a groin injury.

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