After continuing their losing ways, the players weren't always able to keep from offering their suggestions on what has been missing. Plus, we offer up more than 30 game notes that help tell the story of the Vikings' 23-16 loss to the Eagles.
In the moments following the Vikings' 23-16 loss to the Eagles Sunday, a fan outside the Metrodome was marching through the hundreds of fans still milling around the stadium holding up a large, three-fold sign. Clearly, he was a Vikings fans, because he was wearing a Chad Greenway
jersey that runs about $150. What did his sign say?
"FIRE BRAD!" in block red and blue letters.
For a team that started 4-2 in 2006, with Sunday's loss, the Vikings have lost five of seven games and 15 of their last 19 games. It was clear Sunday that after another tough loss, that frustration was beginning to set in with a team that came into the year with high hopes of making the next step to contention in the NFC.
The feelings began to bubble to the surface for a team that has lost four games by a touchdown or less – feelings that have built up over two of months that can best be described as a growing level of frustration.
"I've been very frustrated," said safety Darren Sharper
. "Every loss I've been frustrated. We're not making plays. All of the games have been close but at the end of the day, we're not finding ways to win or make the necessary plays."
In the final minute, perhaps with the belief that the Vikings wouldn't be able to create enough in the remaining seconds to make a play to win the game, punt returner Bobby Wade
did a classic no-no – retreating to the 1-yard line and trying to make a big return. He was brought down at the 9-yard line and ate an additional nine seconds off the game clock. But he felt obligated to try.
"I had it in my mind from the very beginning that I was going to try to make a play," Wade said. "We went for the block. The only difference if I had let it bounce was we would have had an extra nine yards (actually 11). I was trying to hit a home run."
Home runs for the Vikings have been few and far between and the players were making it sound distinctly like the team doesn't have enough of those types or doesn't allow those players who are big-play types get enough chances to make the highlight film type of showcase plays.
When asked what the Vikings could do to change things around, Sharper was pretty succinct.
"You have to get some playmakers," Sharper said. "That's one thing you can do. Or at least you let your playmakers be playmakers."
Sharper said he couldn't remember a team in his years in the league that found ways to be on the short end of scores in which they had chances but didn't make plays on either side of the ball at critical times – or at least not prior to coming to Minnesota.
"Games are different week to week," Sharper said. "But to consistently do that? No. I've never seen that…except maybe last year."
So as the Vikings drop to 2-5 on the season, the sense of dread appears to be creeping into the conversation.
"Obviously it's frustrating to lose," center Matt Birk
said. "We're 2-5. That's not where we wanted to be and it's not where we think we should be. But we are. It's not like we're going to bring in a bunch new players now. We are what we are. We just have to keep working."
Meanwhile, industrious fans will keep working on their signs.
On his last carry of the game, Adrian Peterson lost six yards on a sweep that he tried to bounce back the other direction. It proved costly for the record books. Prior to that play, he had set the record for most rushing yards in the first seven games of a season with 746 – one more than Robert Smith had in the first seven games of the 1997 season. With that 6-yard loss, he fell five behind Smith at 740.
The Vikings were again dominated through the air. The Eagles had 385 total yards – 62 rushing on 24 carries and 323 passing. The Vikings had 256 total yards – 151 passing and 101 rushing.
The Vikings came into the game with just six trips into the opponents red zone. They increased that total by 50 percent with three trips deep into Eagles territory – scoring one touchdown and two field goals.
Peterson was the primary ball carrier Sunday, have 20 rushing attempts while the next highest total was just six by Chester Taylor. Peterson finished with 20 carries for 70 yards, which dropped his season average from 6.2 yards a carry to 5.8.
Visanthe Shiancoe made his presence felt. In the first six games, he had just nine receptions but caught five passes for 50 yards and a TD Sunday.
Brooks Bollinger created something of a spark for the offense, completing seven of 10 passes for 94 yards after replacing Kelly Holcomb, who completed just seven of 16 passes.
Donovan McNabb was again the difference-maker fans remember from previous games with the Vikings, completing 23 of 36 passes for 333 yards and one touchdown. Running back Brian Westbrook, however, was limited to just 46 yards on 21 carries – a 2.2-yard average that dropped his season rush average from 5.5 yards a carry to 4.9.
In his first six games, Reggie Brown had 17 receptions for 214 yards. Sunday he caught eight passes for 105 yards.
Antoine Winfield led the Vikings with 11 tackles, followed by E.J. Henderson with 10 and Pat Williams with seven.
Eagles defensive end Trent Cole recorded his eighth and ninth sacks of the season and led the Eagles with eight tackles.
After scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the game, the Vikings' final 10 drives resulted in six punts, three goals and the clock running out at the end of the game.
After losing Holcomb on the previous drive, right tackle Ryan Cook went down with a shoulder injury and didn't return until the fourth quarter. He was replaced by Marcus Johnson.
Holcomb was knocked out early in the third quarter on a third-down sack in which he held onto the ball too long and was squashed by DE Juqua Thomas. With Tarvaris Jackson deactivated, Bollinger was called upon.
The Vikings burned both of their challenges on plays that, from simple viewing of the Jumbrotron, appeared clearly to be unwinnable challenges. The first came on a 30-yard reception by Reggie Brown, who dragged both feet in bounds. The second came on the second-half kickoff when Peterson fielded the ball at the 1-yard line and stepped out of bounds.
The Eagles had a huge yardage disparity at halftime, leading the Vikings 252-122. Philadelphia had 35 yards rushing and 217 passing, while the Vikings had 66 passing and 56 rushing.
Individually at halftime, Holcomb was six of 13 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown. Peterson had 11 carries for 39 yards and Taylor had four for 17 yards. Shiancoe had two catches for 21 yards and a TD and Rice had two catches for 14 yards.
For the Eagles, McNabb was 15 of 22 passing for 217 yards at halftime. Westbrook had 10 carries for 29 yards and a touchdown, while Buckhalter and McNabb had three yards each. Brown was the story in the receiving, catching six passes for 85 yards.
In the second quarter alone, McNabb completed 12 of 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 130.8. Five of those passes went to Brown for 81 yards.
After running seven times and six passes in the first quarter, on the Eagles first touchdown drive of the game, the team came out passing. McNabb drove the Eagles 93 yards on 12 plays and eight of those plays were passes that gained 82 yards. Reggie Brown, who has done almost nothing offensively this season, was the prime-time player – catching three passes for 56 yards.
The Eagles held a big edge in the first-quarter stats despite trailing 7-3. Philly had 77 yards to 50 for the Vikings. The Eagles had 66 yards passing and 11 rushing, while the Vikings had 32 yards rushing and 18 passing.
Individually in the first quarter, Holcomb was three of six passing for 27 yards and a touchdown. Peterson had seven carries for 34 yards, while Chester Taylor had one carry for minus-2 yards. Three different receivers caught passes in the first half, with Sidney Rice having one for 12 yards and Shiancoe catching a 9-yard touchdown.
For the Eagles, McNabb completed three of seven passes for 66 yards to three different receivers in the first quarter. The big catch of the quarter was a 50-yard pass to Greg Lewis. Westbrook had just eight yards on five carries.
Pat Williams led both teams with three tackles in the first quarter.
The Eagles had to settle for a field goal after getting a first down on the Vikings 2-yard line late in the first quarter. That wasn't overly unusual. The Eagles came into the game ranked 30th in red zone offense, scoring just six TDs on their first 20 red zone possessions.
The Vikings pulled a trick out of the special teams bag. After scoring their first touchdown, the Vikings attempted an onside kick that caught the Eagles unaware and Heath Farwell recovered. How unusual was that play? During the entire era of Dennis Green, the team never attempted an onside kick that wasn't a desperation last minute situation or a fake punt in a 10-year span.
The onside kick was just the third attempted in the first quarter in team history and the first one that the Vikings recovered.
For the second straight week, the Vikings scored on their first drive of the game, marching 79 yards in 10 plays. Peterson led the way with six carries for 34 yards and the Eagles extended the drive twice with penalties on third down that came on Holcomb incompletions.
The touchdown to Shiancoe was his first as a Viking.
The Vikings captains for Sunday's game were Matt Birk, Cedric Griffin and Charles Gordon.
The fans let their love for Peterson known. The Vikings offense was introduced to the fans with the loudest ovation by far of any player going to the rookie running back.
The Vikings averted a blackout earlier in the week and Sunday's game was the 99th consecutive sellout at the Metrodome dating back to 1998.