Notebook: Mystique or Mistakes?

The Chiefs had history on their side with an impressive record in home openers, but the Vikings left plenty of scoring opportunities on the field in their 13-10 loss. Plus, see the mistake of the game, and which unit and which specialist had good games.

Was Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs the mystique of Arrowhead Stadium or the mistakes of the horned-headed team?

The Vikings did plenty – or not enough, depending on your view – to help the Kansas City Chiefs along during the Vikings' 60-minute journey in offensive futility. Adrian Peterson fumbled the ball in the second quarter after having a previous fumble ruling overturned by instant replay, and his actual fumble led to the Chiefs' only points in the first half.

Still, it was Peterson who was the bright spot in an otherwise dismal offensive performance. He rushed for 102 yards on 25 carries, but too many other mistakes contributed to offensive problems.

Despite scoring 10 points in the first half, Holcomb and the offense marched past midfield two other times, but let sacks kill those opportunities. On Minnesota's third drive of the game, first-and-10 on the Chiefs 44-yard line turned into fourth-and-16 on the 50-yard line after a false start on guard Artis Hicks and a 9-yard sack by Tamba Hali. On their final drive of the first half, first-and-10 on the Kansas City 33-yard line turned into fourth-and-17 on the 40-yard line. That late-minute scoring attempt ended with back-to-back sacks, which had the Chiefs running into the locker room with their arms pumping despite trailing 10-3.

"I felt real good. I felt fresh out there," said Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, who was coming off a two-game suspension and had two sacks. "I was going up against some big guys out there. My strength held up. My conditioning held up. I got tested on a 12-play drive, I was burning. I felt good out there. It's so awesome to get back out there and play with my teammates and be a part of a victory."

The opportunities continued early in the second half, as the Vikings took their first drive to the 24-yard line with a first down, before three plays netted minus-10 yards. And, with the ball on their own 34-yard line and facing fourth-and-20, Childress elected to punt.

From there, the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium knew what to do, as the Chiefs went from trailing 10-3 to winning 13-10 in the course of their ensuing two drives.

The Chiefs broke two running trends in the process of their win. They are 13-1 at Arrowhead Stadium when Larry Johnson runs for more than 100 yards, but the Vikings defense held him 42 yards on 24 rushes. And the Chiefs hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher against them at Arrowhead in 23 consecutive games before Adrian Peterson went for 102 yards on 25 rushes.

But the one mystique of Arrowhead held up. Dating back to 1990, the Chiefs own the NFL's best home record at 102-34, and since Carl Peterson started managing the team, Kansas City has been 13-5 in home openers.

Despite all that tradition, if the Vikings are looking for excuses or to blame others they can always look back at the game and say that one official's ruling was the difference in points. In the second quarter, it looked like the Vikings offense was going to capitalize on great field position and take a 14-0 lead. The defense set up the offense on the 33-yard line with a sack and forced fumble by Spencer Johnson that was recovered by Chad Greenway. The Vikings drove to the 8-yard line, where Mewelde Moore took a second-down pitch, rolled to his right and threw a pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Shiancoe dove for the ball, garnered possession in the air and hit the ground with his hand under the point of the ball.

While the officials ruled it an incompletion, Brad Childress challenged and the replay upheld the ruling on the field.

"There was no doubt in my mind (he caught the ball)," Childress said. "I only got one look at it. They just said that if they would have called it a touchdown, they would have left it a touchdown and if they called it incomplete it would stay incomplete. They just couldn't find anything to roll it back the other way."

That play will likely get NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira more familiar with Childress. Last week, Childress was planning on having Pereira review a play from the Detroit game where Spencer Johnson was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a third-and-22 incompletion for apparently following through with a tackle on quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.

"We had a still picture of the quarterback with the ball still in his hand and Spencer around his waist," Childress said the day after that game. "At the point you've committed yourself. I really feel like it's difficult for you – I'm not a physics guy – to stop your inertia, your momentum or whatever as you've committed to wrapping your arms around a guy's waist and getting him on the ground. You may or may not know the ball has left. I just think he said something about the way he finished. I don't know, you guys had virtue of the TV copy. I just thought it was a committed act that he was in the middle of as the guy had the ball and the ball left his arm. He's not going to fall off the guy as he was following through."

Sunday's decision to not overturn that incompletion ruling in the end zone was the difference between a touchdown and a field goal – which turned out to be the difference between a 13-10 loss and a potential 14-13 win.

So blame it on the Vikings' many mistakes, the officials' biggest mistake or just the mystique of Arrowhead in home openers. No matter where the blame is placed, it's still a loss for a more-desperate-by-the-week Vikings team.

POOR MANAGEMENT

An apparent mistake by the officials isn't to imply that the Vikings weren't without their own errors at Arrowhead in that same quarter.

Late in the second quarter, the Vikings took possession of the ball on their own 20-yard line with 3:26 to play. After picking up one first down, Holcomb found Peterson on a dump pass that the rookie turned into a 35-yard gain to the Chiefs' 33-yard line. However, after a 3-yard run by Mewelde Moore that started with 1:15 left on the clock, the Vikings let the clock slide down to 34 seconds before Holcomb called a timeout. The Vikings seemed to get the right play called when two play-action fakes got the safety to bite and Holcomb had a wide open Robert Ferguson that he overthrew at the goal line.

Two sacks later and the Chiefs were running into halftime with momentum despite being down 10-3.

PARTY IN THE BACKFIELD

Much has been made of the Vikings' Williams Wall – interior defensive linemen Pat Williams and Kevin Williams – that helped shape Minnesota's 2006 defense into the top run-stuffing unit in the entire league.

That aura continued to build on Sunday when the defense held Johnson to 42 yards on 24 carries after he had back-to-back 1,700-yard seasons in 2005 and 2006.

"These guys are very good against the run," Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards said. "… But you just can't go back and throw all day because they're good enough to hit the quarterback. You still have to run the ball and Larry helps us because people are still going to put eight men in the box and that gives us some one-on-one match-ups at times."

The Williamses aren't always the ones making stops in the backfield, but they are often a big part in freeing up others to get to the running backs before they even reach the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs had 11 plays on Sunday that went for negative yards to running backs Johnson and Michael Bennett. Pat Williams accounted for one of those stops and Kevin Williams none, but they were often pushing the linemen back and rerouting the plays.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield and linebacker E.J. Henderson each contributed to two tackles for negative yards, defensive ends Jayme Mitchell and Kenechi Udeze each had one tackle-for-loss and linebacker Ben Leber led the way with three tackles for loss.

BOOTS ARE MADE FOR KICKING

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe continued his impressive start to the season and showed his versatility in his first two punts on Sunday.

Kluwe's first punt went 70 yards before bouncing into the end zone for a touchback. His next one traveled 42 yards to pin the Chiefs at their own 8-yard line.

He ended the game with a 48-yard gross with a 41.7-yard net, landing three inside the 20-yard line for another solid all-around performance.

ALLEN MAKES DIFFERENCE

Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen got a reprieve from the NFL when he had a four-game suspension turned into a two-game suspension. He took full advantage of the NFL's gift in his return to action, forcing a fumble on a Peterson run in the second quarter that the Chiefs recovered at the Vikings 28-yard line and turned into the Kansas City's only points of the first half with a 39-yard field goal.

Allen came back on the Vikings' next possession and sent them to halftime with back-to-back sacks for a combined 21 yards to end the half.

He ended the game with eight tackles, two sacks for 21 yards, three quarterback hurries, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.

"It meant everything (having Allen back)," said teammate Tamba Hali. "He plays the run, he plays the pass. He's all over the field. I love being around him when he's out on the field. It meant a lot to our defensive line."


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