Anatomy of a Breakdown

For a team that has led with 45 seconds to play in its first two games, the Vikings are more than a little frustrated about how the 2002 season has started. While Doug Brien deservedly got the blame for Sunday's loss, he was just a part of the reason.

The Vikings made it clear that Doug Brien was the source of the loss that beat them Sunday. His demotion and the subsequent signing of Gary Anderson showed that. But, as the Vikings broke down game film of Sunday's overtime loss, they found the blame could be spread around.

Here is a short timeline of the plays that made the difference between winning and losing Sunday:

* Leading 13-6 with 2:13 to play in the half, the Vikings defense allows Drew Bledsoe to complete five of six passes, including a 38-yarder to Josh Reed to drive 82 yards in 1:07 to tie the game before halftime
* After driving into Bills territory in the final seconds, Brien's 44-yard field goal attempt hits the left upright -- keeping the game tied 13-13 at the half.

* After scoring in the first two minutes of the quarter, the Vikings should have a 10-point lead. Instead, they're up 20-13. Brien's kickoff comes down on the 10-yard line and Charlie Rogers returns it 90 yards for a TD to tie the game at 20-20.
* Still in the opening minutes, Daunte Culpepper fumbles in Vikings territory. The Bills recover and it leads to a field goal and a 23-20 Buffalo lead.
* The Vikings overcome a holding call that negates a 40-yard TD to Randy Moss to score on a 29-yard TD to D'Wayne Bates. However Brien misses the extra point and instead of being ahead by four points and forcing the Bills to play for a touchdown to take the lead, Buffalo can tie the game with a field goal.

* With Bryant McKinnie still holding out, Lewis Kelly on an excused absence and Everett Lindsay out with back spasms, fourth-string LT Adam Haayer is schooled and Daunte Culpepper is hit from his blind side and fumbles. The fumble is recovered in the end zone for a Buffalo TD and the Bills lead 30-26 -- forcing the Vikings to score a TD to take the lead back.
* The Vikings score again -- their second TD on a fourth-down play -- to regain the lead. But, Brien misses another extra point and the lead is two points (32-30) instead of a field goal advantage.
* Bledsoe, who has been shut down the entire second half by the Vikings defense, moves at will -- driving 78 yards in four minutes and converting three third-down plays to give Buffalo a 36-32 lead with 3:08 to play.
* For no explained reason, the Vikings call a time out with 2:04 to play. Instead of using their time outs as needed in the final minute, the Vikings score with 26 seconds to play.
* Brien is supposed to drive the ball on the ground through the wedge, but again fails. The kick is picked up and brought back to the 35-yard line.
* Bledsoe completed a pass to Peerless Price with 3 seconds to play. Price catches the ball and falls to the ground. Instead of leaving him untouched for three seconds -- the Bills couldn't stop the clock until Price was downed by contact -- the Vikings run over and down him. With Price on his back, there was no reason to touch him. Game should be over.
* Given a chance by the Vikings defense for one more play, Hollis hits a 54-yard field goal that goes off the crossbar and in to send the game to overtime.

* While the Vikings seem content to run the ball and go three-and-out twice, Bledsoe completes 10 passes for more than 150 yards and the Bills win.

Yes, Doug Brien stunk up the joint Sunday and bears much of the blame for the loss. But, as you can see, there was blame to go around.

* In order to make room for Anderson on the Vikings roster, the team was forced to cut LB Antonio Wilson -- one of the few players who couldn't be blamed for Sunday's loss.
* Anderson said earlier this month that the only team he would play for would be the Vikings. He was offered a contract by the Giants in the preseason and was contacted about a kicking job in Washington last week, but said the only team he would play for is the Vikings, since his sons have taken root in Minnesota.
* The Vikings worked out TE/OL Shawn Draper and DL Ben Williams Tuesday.

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